Microsoft’s Server 2008 platform presents plenty of partner opportunities

Now that Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Server 2008 platform has officially launched, the vendor wants its partners to be aware of the security precautions, practices and opportunities that relate to deploying and implementing Server in a virtual computing environment.

Bruce Cowper, senior program manager of Microsoft Canada’s security initiative, says he often sees machines in virtualized environments not being as well managed, maintained and locked down as their physical counterparts. He points to remote branch offices in Canada as an example and says that if a remote server, which happens to be a domain controller, becomes physically compromised it becomes much more than just about losing the server.

“It also becomes a cost of having to reset all of the accounts that were cached onto those servers,” Cowper said. “We have something new in Server 2008’s Active Directory Domain Services called a read-only domain controller that helps with protection.”

Brian Bourne, president of Toronto-based CMS Consulting, an IT consultancy business which focuses on security, says businesses need to remember virtualization security requires measures being conducted on a per machine basis.

“I don’t think enough people care or put as much value on the security angle as they should,” Bourne said. “Security is a concern and it’s complicated. The release of Server 2008 creates opportunities for consultancy and migration services. Businesses need to make sure they have a solid migration strategy in order to better prepare their infrastructures,” he added.

According to John Milburn, vice-president of product management at Quest Software, a Microsoft Gold certified partner and also an ISV, even though Microsoft has added a number of new security improvements to Server 2008, there are still opportunities to be filled by partners.

“Active Directory in Server 2008 is still at risk,” Milburn said. “Quest offers Recovery Manager for Active Directory, which offers granular, online recovery of Directory in the event of software failure or modification.”

Another important area that also needs to be addressed, Milburn says, is around auditing and monitoring who has done what to which systems, and when. Milburn calls this a new paradigm shift where organizations need to ensure they are managing and securing their machines both at the virtualization as well as hosted-levels.

Quest, Milburn says, also has a partner community with about 250 partners throughout North America. He says the company is actively recruiting partners in the U.S. and Canada, especially now that the new Microsoft platforms are now available.

“Everytime there’s a platform launch, there’s a huge opportunity for partners and organizations like us to help customers upgrade and migrate to it,” Milburn said. “There’s always some room for improvement when securing and maintaining infrastructures.”

Cowper also says Microsoft partners can easily increase their revenue streams by offering services, hardware sales, implementation and other support mechanisms along with Server 2008.

“Because virtualization is more than just a virtual machine, people need to look at all of the options and different scenarios that are available to them,” Cowper said. “Users need to make sure they have a good understanding about how virtualization and Server can impact their business,” he added.

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Maxine Cheung
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