The giant is moving: the new Microsoft 360 degrees virtualization strategy

In the last months the Microsoft virtualization strategy became more than aggressive.

Started with Connectix acquisition in 2003 (hardware virtualization), Microsoft slowly extented its investment with SoftGrid acquisition in 2006 (application virtualization) and Calista Technologies in early 2008 (presentation virtualization).

The investment is actually bigger than that, since the company also developed in-house technologies like new capabilities for its Terminal Services, a new management console for virtualization platforms, System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), and a new hypervisor, Hyper-V, expected for the Q3 2008.

Microsoft is also building virtualization capabilities and support into a large part of its back-end servers: Operation Manager (SCOM), Configuration Manager (SCCM), Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) are all becoming virtualization-aware, while SQL Server and Windows Server both have virtualization-friendly licenses.

All these technologies are being developed with interoperability in mind, thanks to a series of agreements with Novell, with Citrix, with Sun and with Virtual Iron.

Last but not least the company long-term vision shapes a future where large-scale datacenters are fully virtualized through both hardware virtualization (for OS deployments) and application virtualization (for back-end services deployments), tightened together by a service-oriented distribution model called codename Oslo.

In such scenario Microsoft acquires Kidaro. How this fits the big picture?

Desktop virtualization for consumers is the segment where Microsoft showed less its commitment so far: Virtual PC got few improvements over a large number of years and offers only the very essential features expected in desktop virtualization products. Additionally, Microsoft never pushed the product in a massive way despite it’s free of charge and could easily become the most fundamental piece in the toolbox of every MSDN developer in the world.

One reason behind this lack of commitment is the inability to monetize the effort since these kind of solutions don’t provide impressive revenues (despite they evangelize about the benefits of virtualization more than the most expensive marketing campaign ever).

With Kidaro acquisition Microsoft finds a new, potentially huge revenue stream offering desktop virtualization for consumers inside enterprise environments.

The startup technology wraps any virtual machine in a security layer which enforces corporate policies, making the solution appealing for all those companies that don’t want or cannot embrace the VDI approach for different reasons.

Thus serious enhancements to Virtual PC are now justified because Kidaro can push the engine where the money really is.

Additionally, the combination of Kidaro Managed Workspaces and Application Virtualization, both offering streaming capabilities, has endless potentials and brings the Microsoft long-term vision mentioned above on desktops.

In other words with this acquisition Microsoft gets a critical piece to truly deliver a 360 degrees virtualization offering, addressing many different needs in many different scenarios.

Now it’s time to integrate all these technologies in an organic suite, and this is where the biggest challenge is.