Microsoft Updates Virtual Server 2005

Touting support for both Intel and AMD virtualization technology, Microsoft released a second beta of its Virtual Server 2005 Release 2 Service Pack 1 (R2 SP1) this week.

The capabilities of the free Virtual Server 2005 update — including Active Directory integration, improved backup and recovery and offline management tools — will eventually be incorporated into Virtual Server 2005. The R2 SP1 is available for download in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, Microsoft said.

A Core Technology

The release is part of the company’s effort to enhance virtualization, whereby multiple instances of operating systems, applications and other software run on servers using what is known as a hypervisor. Now that virtualization is making its way into datacenters, Microsoft is aiming at the management of virtualized resources, Ovum Summit Vice President Dwight Davis told TechNewsWorld.

“Microsoft clearly understands virtualization’s a core technology,” Davis said, adding management of virtualization is “as important, if not more, than the hypervisor itself.”

R2 SP1 adds AMD virtualization and Active Directory integration using service connection points.

Customers in Mind

The update also features a technology called Volume Shadow Service, which enhances backup and disaster recovery functions by allowing users to take snapshot backups of physical machines that in turn take snapshots of virtual machines, allowing maintenance without downtime, Microsoft said.

The Virtual Server 2005 beta update also offers offline virtual hard disk (VHD) mounting capability, whereby users can view and manipulate files in a VHD without a requirement to start the machine. This would allow administrators to deploy scripts or run virus scans on VHDs without having to start each virtual machine, Microsoft said.

While virtualization centers on the ability to run multiple instances of platforms or applications on consolidated hardware, Microsoft has been focused on managing multiple operating systems or applications and being able to manage and shift computing workloads, Davis claimed.

“That’s where Microsoft has been directing a lot of its attention of late,” he noted.

The software giant is erring in favor of customers by signaling it will allow unlimited virtual instances of Windows to run on a single, licensed operating system.

License Limitations

Microsoft appears to be more focused on the virtualization of applications, rather than virtualized operating systems or platforms, Interarbor Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told TechNewsWorld.

The reason, according to Gardner, may be Microsoft’s license-based business model, which becomes much more complex in virtual IT environments.

“Virtualization muddies the waters,” he declared.

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