One of the many zillion-dollar questions in the cloud computing hypefest is when server-side application virtualization will take off.
Upstarts like Appzero want to know why Microsoft and other software incumbents aren’t jumping on the bandwagon to virtualize big-iron database, ERP and other server-delivered apps. Appzero CEO Greg O’Connor asked the question, and then helpfully answered it in a blog post late last month.
Microsoft is probably in no hurry to push server app virtualization because it makes a ton o’ dough selling server SKUs. For its quarter ending in March, Microsoft’s Server & Tools group, which includes SQL Server database and other goodies, logged nearly $3.5 billion in revenue, up from $3.2 billion for the previous quarter. Clearly Server & tools revenue is not something the company wishes to mess with. But it does have some server-side app virtualization in house from its Softricity acquisition. In December, the application virtualization group posted a blog asking for input on this server application virtualization.
The posting explains what the technology can do:
“Bringing virtualization to server applications will allow customers to rapidly deploy and service Windows Server workloads in a new way. Today it may take days or weeks to provision applications in the data center. By decoupling the server application from the operating system, customers gain a level of flexibility that can be applied in various scenarios to improve operational efficiency. Virtualization of server applications can allow IT departments and businesses act quickly and efficiently to the demands of their customers while integrating with both physical and virtual machines. “
Appzero clearly has a horse in this race. The small Boston area startup says it’s already there when it comes to server-side app virtualization–on Windows and other OSes. O’Connor’s pitch is that his company’s technology will help customers move the apps that do their heavy lifting into the cloud much more cost effectively and (in theory) with little rewriting or tuning.
Microsoft showed off nascent server-side application virtualization at its Management Summit. Nothing was said about dates.
In another post referencing that demo, O’Connor said he was thrilled about Microsoft’s entry.
“Why? Because any time Redmond pees on the 4 corners of a market, that space is immediately validated. And server-side application virtualization is AppZero’s claim to fame. We do Windows – and we do it now.”
Word to warning here for Mr. O’Connor. That whole “We’re happy that Microsoft is in this market because it validates us” meme didn’t’ work out so well for Novell. Or Borland. Or Lotus. Or WordPerfect. Or Netscape. So be careful what you wish for.