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Microsoft melding view of local, cloud-based virtual machines

Windows management feature would give integrated view of physical, virtual resources

By , Network World
April 29, 2009 10:04 AM ET

Network World - LAS VEGAS – Microsoft Tuesday said it is working on a cloud federation feature for Virtual Machine Manager that will give users an integrated view of physical and virtual resources from a single point regardless if they are running internally or on a hosted network.

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The company demonstrated the feature at its annual Microsoft Management Summit, showing a single Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) console managing virtual machines running on hosted and local networks.

Key for the feature initially for Microsoft will be Windows on both side of the equation, including Azure as the platform on the hosted side.

The cloud federation also will incorporate identity federation on the back of Geneva, Microsoft's identity platform for the cloud, and security tools in the form of Forefront and patching/updating tools. Microsoft did not detail how that integration will happen.

The cloud federation feature adds an action button to VMM called "Add Public Resources" that enables the user to incorporate hosted virtual machines into a local VMM environment.

The feature basically works by having copies of VMM running locally and in the cloud that talk to each other. It amounts to an aggregation of data into a single interface.

VMM is built on top of PowerShell, a command-line and task-based scripting technology, and the new VMM interface basically is a GUI for making calls out to PowerShell commandlets. The cloud federation sends PowerShell commands from one instance of VMM to another.

Microsoft would not say what protocol or protocols it is using so instances of PowerShell can talk to one another over the Web.

"We are not ready to go into those details," said Brad Anderson, general manager of the management services division for Microsoft. "But they have to be Internet facing, Internet friendly protocols."

Anderson said despite the basic simplicity of the cloud federation feature, it will not ship until the version of VMM after the 2008 R2 version.

The R2 version, Microsoft announced Tuesday, is slated to ship 60 days after the shipment of Windows Server 2008 R2, which will coincide with the release of Windows 7 this fall.

Anderson would not give a date for the post-VMM 2008 R2 version, but said the cloud federation feature still needs development and testing. "We have to go through all the rigor on that," he said.

Dominic Foster, CTO of Maximum ASP, said cloud federation is one of the top features coming for VMM.

"This is a chance for people to get their feet wet," he said. "They can just push out a single VM to the cloud and see how it works."

He says when coupled with System Center Operations Manager that users will have a combination that includes monitoring that will allow scale out and scale up of capacity.

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Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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