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Admins mild about Microsoft's virtualization strategy

Microsoft baited the upgrade hook with its strategic purchase of virtualization technology firm Connectix. Windows admins say the Connectix connection could come in handy, but they doubt Microsoft's strategy will have them rushing to request OS purchase orders.

Microsoft hopes that Windows administrators will use newly acquired virtualization software to upgrade to newer...

operating systems. But for some IT managers, Microsoft's strategy won't change their plans.

Earlier this month, Microsoft acquired two products, Virtual PC and Virtual Server, from Connectix Corp. of San Mateo, Calif. Those tools let administrators run various versions of Windows operating systems on one machine.

But rather than persuade administrators to use Virtual PC to upgrade to newer Windows operating systems, it will more likely help in day-to-day tasks, such as application development, testing and training. The technology also could help administrators consolidate servers.

For one administrator, Microsoft's acquisition of its partner's tools is insignificant.

"I am not a proponent of putting all my eggs in one basket," said Mitch Ablove, network manager for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in San Francisco. "And I don't have a need for multiple OSes on the desktop."

To upgrade or not to upgrade

Since the hoopla and marketing wizardry of Windows 95, Microsoft has had a tough time getting administrators to upgrade server and desktop operating systems, said Neal Rabin, CEO of Miramar Systems, a Santa Barbara, Calif., developer of migration software.

"Nothing sweeps through the industry like it once did," Rabin said.

Windows administrators often don't upgrade servers and desktops because of seemingly inevitable technology glitches, Rabin said. Foremost among the migration problems is the frequent case of applications not working smoothly with a new OS. "Microsoft has probably heard this from administrators a billion times."

A useful tool

At least one administrator who uses the Connectix software said he hopes that the Microsoft acquisition means the software will be tweaked to run better on the Windows platform.

Ken Oakeson, a system administrator at Eternal Systems, another Santa Barbara software company, said that he uses Connectix software to test applications on particular operating systems for incompatibilities and bugs before he assigns them to users. Most recently, Oakeson used Connectix technology to test applications before he moved six users to Windows XP.

Virtual PC technology could help budget-conscious administrators get more performance for less money by consolidating servers. For instance, having three Windows operating systems on one server with one and a half gigabytes of RAM would prevent one ailing application from shutting down the entire server, Oakeson said.

"On one server, you could have Exchange, a print server and a file server," he said. "If your Exchange server crashes, it will only crash that one virtual machine, not the whole machine."


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