Continuing the thought from my last blog, it looks like Microsoft is next.  In case you had not seen the news, Microsoft is coming out with a greatly enhanced version of System Center that is heavily focused on the cloud.

Microsoft, like Citrix, is clearly seeing the increase of applications in the cloud.  To some organizations, that means migrating applications that can be hosted off premise, while to others it means keeping applications on premise and adopting cloud scale, operating models and management tools. 

In the latter, private cloud can be exemplified by infrastructure as a service offerings running hosted desktop as a service (simply the latest “workload” to be brought into the data center). This ability to enable customers to create private clouds and deliver desktops as a service are squarely in the sights of System Center 2012 – in particular the Virtual Machine Manager module.

As Microsoft details on its Beta page, System Center VMM 2012 will enable customers to:

-      Manage multi-hypervisor environments such as XenServer,

-      Deliver flexible and cost-effective Infrastructure as a Service

-      Optimize data center resources based on workload demands

-      Provide application lifecycle management tools for both Microsoft and non-Microsoft apps.

-      Enable self-service infrastructure experience

To me Platform Diversity + Infrastructure Provisioning + App Management + Self Service goes a long way to providing Private Cloud Management.

Who would have ever thought, Three, four or five years ago, that Microsoft would be embracing other platforms, running other operating systems and open to managing mixed data centers? Clearly as Microsoft aspires to become the management hub for the cloud,  they have realized that they need to meet customers where they stand.  This means they (and not just them) have to embrace all the diversity and heterogeneity that is and always will be the data center and cloud.

Clearly the devil will be in the details but Microsoft has come a long way in a fairly short time.

Like Microsoft, we at Citrix don’t believe in closed cloud systems that create platform lock-in. We believe all customers should and will architect their clouds to be open. This means a customer shouldn’t necessarily have to use the same virtual infrastructure in the cloud as they do on-premise to benefit from cloud computing.

This belief in openness and diversity at each end of the wire is why so many cloud providers have chosen Citrix as their virtualization partner of choice, and is clearly a big driver in why Microsoft has worked to include XenServer as a core platform in its cloud management story. 

This move to embrace heterogeneity by Microsoft allows them to not only capture the moral high ground in the battle for the next generation data center but also  to rise above the fray.  By coming “over the top” with a cloud management story that embraces diversity and heterogeneity, it brings Microsoft above the street-level fighting and places them in with the data center general like IBM, HP, CA and BMC. 

And, at the end of the day, that is good for customers, good for Microsoft and good for XenServer