The work week may still be young, but Microsoft and VMware are already trading salvos in their emerging battle over IT infrastructure virtualization. VMware fired first with a slew of Monday announcements stating that they've created a certification program for thin client vendors and expanded their service offerings for the virtual desktop market. They also introduced a new joint desktop WAN solution for thin clients in conjunction with Sun Microsystems.

Microsoft's news was more significant: Hyper-V RC1 has been released, a development that represents an important milestone on the path towards the final release of Microsoft's hypervisor-based server virtualization  technology. According to an email sent by a Microsoft PR rep, Hyper-V RC1 is feature complete, and includes support for additional guest OSes, namely Windows 2000 Server SP4 and Windows 2000 Advanced Server with Service Pack 4. Hyper-V RC1 also features an improved install procedure for Windows Server 2008 integration components. There are some other minor bits and bobs included with the release, and there are some caveats: Hyper-V RC1 is NOT compatible the current Beta of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (SCVMM), so Microsoft suggests SCVMM beta testers stick with Hyper-V RC0. According to Microsoft, SCVMM 2008 will be updated to support Hyper-V RC1 in the relatively near future.

Hyper-V RC1 can be downloaded here

VMware's news was focused more on their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) initiatives, which underscores that VMware feels that it is clearly ahead of Microsoft on the hypervisor front, and is putting resources towards filling out the rest of its virtualization product portfolio.

"We're investing in and expanding our infrastructure around VDI," says Jerry Chen, senior director of desktop platforms and solutions at VMware. "We're building out the best platform and professional services around desktop and application virtualization."

These new professional service offerings prove that VMware's acquisition of Thinstall and services-related assets from Foedus in January 2008 is bearing fruit. According to Chen, these new services include: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Jumpstart, a services packages that trains up to 5 people on how to best deploy and manage VMware products; a Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) Services Acceleration Kit that lets customers more easily virtualize their remote and branch offices; and an Application Virtualization Jumpstart services program that helps customers get up to speed with deploying application virtualizaton in their enterprises. A plan and design service that "builds a comprehensive blueprint for the VMware VDI and/or application virtualization deployment" will also be offered.

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