Microsoft opens conference with virtualisation pitch

ILM 2, SQL Server 2008, Forefront security products also highlighted

Microsoft has opened its annual TechEd conference focusing on the merits of virtualisation ahead of the late summer release of its most important product to date in that area.

The company also unveiled Beta 3 of its Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) 2.0 software, the Release Candidate of SQL Server 2008, and Forefront security products for Office Communications Server and Windows Server 2008.

This year, TechEd is two conferences. This week's focus is on IT pros while last week's sessions, including a keynote address by Bill Gates, were targeted at developers.

"This week's TechEd is less about announcing what is new and more about how to use and deploy the stuff that is being delivered," says Bob Kelly, corporate vice president for server and tools marketing at Microsoft.

On the virtualisation front, Microsoft reiterated that Hyper-V, it core server virtualisation product would ship within its newest timeframe. Microsoft has said it would be delivered within 180 days of Windows Server 2008, which launched Feb 28.

In May, the company released Hyper-V Release Candidate (RC) 1, the last planned beta before the code is shipped.

Microsoft said in April that it was ahead of schedule on the new timetable for release of Hyper-V and said that the technology would likely show up in June or July.

"We are feeling pretty good that it won't be up to the full 180 days," Dai Vu, director of virtualisation products and solutions in Microsoft's server and tools division, told Network World at Microsoft's Management Summit in April.

Microsoft also unveiled Release Candidate 1 of Microsoft Application virtualisation 4.5, which includes new capabilities for provisioning and streaming applications more efficiently, and virtualisation support in its Forefront security software.

Specifically, Forefront Client Security, and the forthcoming "Stirling" management console, will support Hyper-V.

In addition to virtualisation tools, Microsoft rolled out Beta 3 of ILM 2.0, which was suppose to happen at the RSA Security Conference in April. ILM is Microsoft's platform for identity synchronization, certificate and password management, and user provisioning. It was originally the company's meta-directory technology and was previously called Microsoft Identity Integration Server.

The 2.0 version includes a number of user self-service features. It also includes a new delegation model, a business process framework and a set of services that users and partners can tap to extend the server's functionality.

Microsoft also made available the Release Candidate of SQL Server 2008, a server that was ceremoniously launched in February.

Also on the docket was the release of .Net Configuration Service 2.0, which is designed to ease creation of composite application services that run across both .Net and Java. The Configuration Service is a free set of reusable code libraries. Microsoft also introduced Beta 1 of Forefront Security for Office Communications Server, which includes multiple scanning engines and announced Windows Server 2008 and Network Access Protection support in Forefront Client Security.

TechEd is expected to draw 10,000 IT pros and runs through June 13.

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