Microsoft ships Hyper-V

Virtualization battle gains newest member

McShinsky, however, thinks Microsoft must deliver live migration features similar to what VMware has with VMotion in order to fully challenge the market leader. (See related story, "VMware trumps Hyper-V on functionality, but not on price".)

Microsoft cut the live migration features from Hyper-V in May last year but plans to add them in a future version. At that time, Microsoft also dropped the ability to hot-add resources such as storage and memory and reduced the number of processors supported from 64 to 16.

Regardless of the development delays, DHMC is building virtualization clusters on HP 460C blade servers and wants 75 per cent of its infrastructure virtualized in the future.

"That will make it easier to manage, easier to provision and easier to recover," McShinsky says.

Management a key issue

In March, Microsoft said the three most common roles virtualized among early adopters were IIS, application server and Terminal Services, and that the four most deployed Microsoft applications are SQL Server 2005 and 2008, Exchange Server and Forefront. The company said more than half its testers are running an antivirus/security application, nearly 50 per cent are running a backup appliance, and approximately 75 per cent are running Hyper-V with some attached storage.

Despite those numbers, Microsoft says it is still testing some of its more complex applications with Hyper-V.

"For some app teams, they do want some more time with the RTM bits to do final qualifications," says Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager of virtualization. "For Exchange and SharePoint, they want to provide prescriptive guidance to customers on specific configuration and sizing parameters. You will see that material come out over the next couple of months as each team validates their solutions."

Neil added, however, that those applications will run now in Hyper-V virtual environments.

Microsoft also plans to release in 30 to 60 days the final code for its Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) management tool, which is currently in beta.

Management has emerged as a core issue in virtualization deployments and analysts think Microsoft has a good set of tools. (See related story, "VMware, Microsoft battle over virtualization management capabilities".)

"That is one of their greatest strengths," says Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata. "For the Microsoft environment they have a fairly decent set of management tools that lots of people are already using."

Microsoft is using Beta 2 of VMM to manage its production deployment of Hyper-V to support both its TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network Web sites.

Hyper-V is being released as a module that can be added to Windows Server 2008. Once installed, the server operating system will list Hyper-V as one of the roles that the server can be configured to perform. It supports both Windows and Linux guest operating systems.

Microsoft says future versions of the virtualization platform will be released as part of the Windows Server code.

Neil also says the standalone version of Hyper-V that will run on Windows Server 2003 will be released by year-end. The standalone version is price at US$28 and allows an unlimited number of virtual machines on a single box.

Hyper-V is just one part of Microsoft's virtualization strategy that includes desktop virtualization via Microsoft Application Virtualization (formerly SoftGrid) and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (formerly Kidaro). Microsoft also says it is developing server application virtualization similar to SoftGrid that will let users create pre-configured and tested middleware and application images and combine them on the fly to meet capacity demands.

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