Enterprise IT

Hyper-V Landing Shakes VMware Turf

Microsoft took a big leap forward Thursday in its virtualization effort. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant released a public beta for its hypervisor-based server virtualization technology, which is now called “Hyper-V.”

Previously code-named “Viridian,” the Hyper-V beta was expected in early 2008, Microsoft said. Now, however, Hyper-V will ship in final form in 2008 as a feature with some versions of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008.

“Delivering the high-quality Hyper-V beta earlier than expected allows our customers and partners to begin evaluating this feature of Windows Server 2008 and provide us with valuable feedback as we march toward final release,” noted Bill Laing, general manager of the Windows Server Division at Microsoft.

“Along with Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 offers cost-effective and flexible licensing for virtualization so that customers and partners can extend the savings realized through server consolidation and deliver on the vision of Dynamic IT,” he added.

Expanded Features Included

Currently, the beta for Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V is available for the x64 Enterprise Edition in English. This beta release provides customers and partners with expanded features and capabilities not previously available in the September 2007 Community Technology Preview of Hyper-V, such as Quick Migration, high availability, Server Core role and Server Manager integration, Microsoft said.

To provide integrated management of physical and virtual environments, Microsoft is also developing the next version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager, the company said, noting that customers will be able to use the integrated management tool to provision and configure new virtual machines and centrally manage their virtual infrastructure running on Hyper-V, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, VMware ESX Server, and Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3).

180 Days After Windows Server 2008

Microsoft had previously hoped to ship Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008, but the company is now saying it will ship it within 180 days after Windows Server 2008 is released to manufacturing. Microsoft is planning a massive launch event for Windows Server 2008 starting in Los Angeles on Feb. 27. The launch will also include launches for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008.

The Virtual Landscape

With Microsoft’s integrated Hyper-V coming in 2008, it has the potential to shift the VMware-dominated x86 virtualization landscape.

“It’s definitely a step up from the Microsoft Virtual Server product they’ve been shipping, which has been more of an introductory-type product. Hyper-V is designed to compete against VMware’s ESX Server and some of the Xen-based products including Virtual Iron and XenSource,” Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld, noting that Microsoft will likely price the Hyper-V features well below any competing commercial products.

“It’s tough to say what Hyper-V will do to the competitive landscape once it comes out. The price is compelling, but virtualization customers, especially those that work with VMware, have become accustomed to very high levels of performance and management from VMware,” King explained. “I think VMware has done a very good job of being very ‘un-complacent’ — they’ve really pushed for expanding the functionality of the ESX Server and their other product lines, improving management, reaching out to and engaging with a large number of partners and basically using the success they’ve had to try to cement a role for themselves as the market and thought leader in the x86 virtualization world.”

The defining factors for Hyper-V’s acceptance by IT organizations won’t so much be a compelling price as the performance and management abilities it offers, King said.

“What’s interesting is that VMware has done very very well in the large enterprise market. They are in like 99 of the Fortune 100 and in 90 percent or so of the Fortune 1,000,” King noted. “What those customers are looking for is performance, and if they have to spend an extra few thousand bucks a year to ensure maximum performance and manageability, that’s not an issue for them.”

The Hyper-V beta is available for download.

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