A what? A Virtual Hard Disk! Earlier in November, we announced the VHD Test Drive Program (link), that essentially enables you as Microsoft Partners, and your customers, to confidently evaluate mainstream enterprise software from Microsoft and Partners in a fraction of the time. At launch, we will have pre-configured VHDs of Windows Server 2003 R2 and other key Microsoft applications such as SQL Server, ISA Server, and Exchange Server + Live Communication Server. With the VHD Test Drive Program, it enables you, our partners, to distribute your applications and solutions as a pre-configured VHD built on top of Windows Server 2003 R2 and leveraging other Microsoft applications.
As you will probably we aware, over the last 12 months or so, Microsoft's virtualisation story really has started to gain momentum, with more and more Partners and Customers getting excited about the possibilities, especially as we draw ever nearer to the 'Longhorn' time frame, and more specifically, Windows Server Virtualisation. This momentum has been spurred on not only by Windows Server Virtualisation, but also by licensing changes, new releases of virtualisation platforms and the acquisition of Softricity. The release of these VHD's marks another milestone for not just virtualisation but a new paradigm in how the industry looks at evals and potentially could become a new software distribution mechanism.
So, why distribute VHD's? Well, not only does it reduce the cost of evaluating Microsoft software, but it also reduces the complexity for customers and Partners. So, what are the value propositions for Partners and customers? Well, think about it, if you are a Partner, you can deliver quick, prebuilt virtual machines for your customers, to provide quick and simple evaluations. This pre-building of the environment, means that the overall evaluation period is reduced, which means shorter sales cycles. It is also a great way to leverage customer interest in Virtual Machines based on Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition and SQL Server 2005.
So, what about your customers? How can they benefit from the VHD Test Drive Program? Firstly, the customer gains the ability to do simple, quick evaluations for mainstream applications. They can also gain increased confidence in virtual environments as the program is backed by Microsoft and subsequently, provide easy to understand technical support policies for third-party products in virtualised environments.
Sounds like a win-win to me!
You can find out more information here:
External PortalPartner Master Eval Images
looking for a image of Live Communication server
Whilst the VHD doesn't seem to be available, there is nothing stopping you downloading the Public Beta of Office Commnications Server here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/beta/ocs/default.mspx
If you don't want to install it, but try it out, feel free to try the virtual labs here: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/office/livecomm/vlabs.mspx
This link has a bunch of OCS 2007 and LCS 2005 virtual labs: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/bb512928.aspx.
I'm unable to find anything regarding MS partners distributing VHDs for potential customer to evaluate third-party Windows-based software.
Can you help with this?
I sure can help - visit this link: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/partners/vhdpartners.mspx and about half way down the page is a link for Partners to participate in the program. All you have to do is sign an agreement - To participate in this program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a copy of the agreement to be signed and returned to Microsoft.
Hope that helps!