Microsoft gives server app virtualisation sneak peek

Microsoft Tuesday demonstrated for the first time its server application virtualisation technology designed to enable on-demand deployment of applications.

The technology works in much the same way Microsoft's App-V desktop application virtualisation does by separating the application from the underlying operating system.

The idea is to create images of both the application and the operating system that are stored in an online library. The images can be deployed separately and combined during installation ensuring that the OS image is the correct configuration for the application. The model also allows different versions of server applications to run on the same box.

The company introduced the concept last year, but Tuesday at its annual Management Summit was the first time working code was demonstrated, indicating that Microsoft's efforts in this area are beginning to bear fruit.

Still, Brad Anderson, general manager of Microsoft's management services division, said the company is not talking about how the product will come to market or how it would be licensed.

Microsoft's App-V is part of the company's Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), which is available through volume licensing and Software Assurance, through a licensing plan with Terminal Services, and with Microsoft's service provider license agreement for hosting and outsourcing providers.

In Tuesday's demonstration, an application image was lifted off the OS image, which was then updated before the application was re-deployed on top of it.

The foundation of the server application virtualisation technology grew out of Microsoft's acquisition of Softricity.

Anderson said the goal of server application virtualisation is to create a services environment where users separately manage and update OS and applications as virtual machine images that are only brought together at the time of deployment.

The applications image contains not just the core application code, but all the pieces that go along with it, including such things as database drives.

The prize for IT would be simplified deployment, such as eliminating recurring regression testing when rolling out applications.

Anderson says the similarity between the server application virtualisation and App-V means that when the server version is complete it won't really be a Version 1 product.

The technology "is essentially the same on the client and server," Anderson said. "On the server you have to think about Com objects and some other additional pieces but the isolation capabilities are essentially the same."

Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's server and tools business, said last year the goal is to get to the point where separation between the operating system, the middleware and the applications means that the only traditional installation IT will have to do is laying down a hypervisor on physical server hardware.

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