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SAN FRANCISCO: VMware kicked off the sixth VMworld with product, program and results announcements, but a number of its partners, including the don’t-turn-your-back-on-duo Microsoft and Citrix, had their own news to spread. Here’s a sampling of some of the announcements made just prior to or at the event.

Microsoft really jumped the gun, with its August 27th announcement that some business customers are saving on average $170,000 (U.S.) when they switch to Microsoft virtualization software from VMware software. It said customers are turning to Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center management tools to help reduce energy consumption, hardware costs and recurring licensing costs, and improve their overall management of virtual and nonvirtual applications, servers and computers. "The light switch has gone on for customers, and they realize they no longer have to pay a virtualization tax with VMware that creates an isolated, virtual island within their IT departments," said David Greschler, director of virtualization and management marketing in the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft.

On Tuesday Microsoft announced a new software license, Microsoft System Center Essentials Management Suite, which includes Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007 and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. The suite includes a technology upgrade program in the OEM channel, which ensures that customers who purchase the suite will have rights to Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010 when it is released next year.

"We are helping midsize organizations optimize IT productivity and manage desktops and servers through a single management console," said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of the Management and Services Division at Microsoft. "We are partnering with Fujitsu, Lenovo and other OEMs so customers can work with familiar and proven solution providers. Together we are delivering a solution that has been built and packaged to address the needs of these customers. An easy-to-use, integrated solution that helps reduce IT costs, and streamline control of physical and virtual desktops and servers."

Citrix also tried to steal a little of VMware’s thunder with two announcements on Monday. These included a new open cloud initiative under the Xen Project (, home of the open source Xen hypervisor. The Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) initiative is intended to accelerate the use of cloud infrastructure for enterprise customers by providing open source virtual infrastructure technology that makes it easy for service providers to deliver secure, customizable, multi-tenant cloud services that work seamlessly with the virtualized application workloads customers are already running in their internal datacenters and private clouds, without locking them into any particular vendor.

"As a advisory board member and frequent contributor, Citrix fully supports this expansion in scope for the Xen community," said Peter Levine, senior vice president and general manager, Datacenter and Cloud Division, Citrix Systems. "Starting with the core Xen platform five years ago, the Xen Client Initiative (XCI) in 2008 and now the Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) initiative, the open source value proposition of reliability, security, scalability and unbeatable economics now extends from the desktop to the datacenter and cloud. Citrix is excited to contribute to this project and looks forward to working with all the beneficiaries — service providers, businesses and consumers of cloud-based resources alike — to provide cloud services that are open, interoperable and free from proprietary vendor lock in."

A little closer to home, Citrix also announced an addition to its HDX Technology. The HDX 3D technology, available as a feature of Citrix XenDesktop, ‘delivers a rich, high-definition desktop experience applications to users in any location, over any network’ (see for more detail).

"Citrix continues to raise the bar on desktop virtualization user experience with HDX 3D delivering the best real-time graphics performance," said Raj Dhingra, group vice president and general manager, XenDesktop product group at Citrix Systems. "XenDesktop with HDX Technology provides the only desktop virtualization solution that can deliver the best possible user experience for every user type without sacrificing performance over the LAN or WAN." Of course VMware’s close friends weren’t the only partners with news. Centrify Corporation announced support for VMware’s vSphere cloud operating system. With it, customers can leverage their existing Active Directory infrastructure and user accounts to secure and administer nearly 200 distinct guest operating systems in addition to the VMware virtualization platform that hosts these OSs. The suite also allows users to integrate other Linux, Unix and Mac systems in an enterprise within Active Directory to provide centralized identity management, access control, privilege management and auditing of all non-Windows platforms.

EMC, VMware’s majority shareholder, announced it is now an authorized reseller of VMware vCenter AppSpeed. It will be offered together with EMC’s virtualization services through EMC Select as part of the company’s Ionix portfolio. The two are also partnering on new services to identify and migrate (physical to virtual) tier-one applications.

"In VMware vCenter AppSpeed, VMware has taken a major step forward helping customers conduct service-level reporting and proactive performance management for multi-tier applications running on virtual machines. IT administrators gain unprecedented visibility into application performance and how it helps accelerate their journey to the private cloud.

"With EMC Ionix, customers can efficiently and effectively manage the full virtual and physical data center ecosystem across networks, storage systems, servers and applications," said EMC’s Jay Mastaj, VP and GM, EMC Ionix. "Working together, EMC and VMware are empowering customers like never before to take advantage of virtualization to improve the way they manage their entire data center."

Symantec Corp. announced it was among the first vendors to achieve VMware Ready Data Protection status. "With VMware Ready Data Protection status, organizations can have confidence that Symantec data protection solutions have been tested against the stringent criteria set by VMware and are optimized for their virtual infrastructure," said Pat Hanavan, VP of product management, Symantec Information Management Group.

A number of storage vendors also stepped up with announcements for VMworld, including: FalconStor Software is updating its IPStor software suite to Site Recovery Manager and vCenter, as well as a new virtual appliance for its data deduplication software, and is also making a new plug-in available that will allow for storage management of NSS through vCenter; The Neverfail Group is adding support for vSphere 4 in Neverfail vAppHA; and Sybase said the latest version of its Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) software supports Symantec’s Veritas Storage Foundation and Veritas Cluster Server storage management software to provide shared-storage database server failover in VMware or cloud computing environments.

One of thin client’s leading lights, Wyse Technology, announced its newest certifications and solutions, strengthening its partnership with VMware. Wyse’s entire thin client portfolio is VMware View 3.1 certified. The company also announced Project Vancouver, its support for the PC-over-IP (PCoIP) protocol, which. becomes a core supported protocol, just as Citrix ICA/HDX and Microsoft RDP are today. Wyse also introduced an App for Apple mobile phones that allows users and IT administrators to access their PC and virtual desktops remotely through the iPhone or iPod touch. PocketCloud accesses any physical or virtualized infrastructure that supports the Microsoft RDP protocol, and additionally supports the VMware View 3.1 connection broker in direct and tunneling modes. SSL is supported in both cases.

Finally, Wyse announced Project ‘Borg’ ("You will be assimilated?"), the codename for its new client virtualization software to extend the lifespan of a PC, optimizing and configuring it to deliver a ‘superior’ Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) experience. "Borg is a relatively simple decision today with enormous implications for tomorrow," according to Jeff McNaught, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Wyse. "Borg continues Wyse’s progressive vision and strategy to help companies do more with less by leveraging their existing technology." Project Borg is being demonstrated at VMworld, and will become commercially available later this year.