Microsoft’s Hyper-V Finally Shows Up to Virtualization Party

Microsoft’s new hypervisor-based server virtualization software, Hyper-V, is now available for download, and it’s several weeks ahead of “schedule” — though it’s also months late. Microsoft previously wanted to deliver Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008. In any event, Hyper-V is here, and it’s real.

Hyper-V is a feature of some versions of Windows Server 2008, and while it’s available for download now, it will hit Microsoft’s Windows Update on July 8. It will also be available as a standalone solution that will sell for about US$28 later this year.

Virtualization software lets organizations that are running multiple, separate physical servers combine those servers virtually onto a single physical machine. By running several virtual servers on a single hardware system, organizations typically increase energy efficiency, reduce hardware footprints in crowded data centers, and save on administration and maintenance costs.

The current market leader for x86-based virtualization solutions is VMware with its ESX Server and related lineup of solutions.

250 Early Adopters

Microsoft reported that more than 250 customers participated in its early adopter program, including firms such as Land O’Lakes, HotSchedules and The Scooter Store, though more than 1 million downloaded the solution during beta testing.

“By virtualizing everything, we have been able to increase our server utilization by a factor of 10, providing dramatic opportunities in consolidation and power savings,” noted Ray Pawlikowski of HotSchedules, an Austin, Texas-based company that provides online labor scheduling and handles 4 million logins per month.

Integration the Key?

In terms of competing with VMware and other Xen-based hypervisors on the market, Microsoft is betting that some customers will use it because of its integration with Windows Server 2008.

“It’s been designed as a Windows feature, which our customers know, so those with Windows Server certification will be familiar with it — the people who have all the in-house skills on Windows Server will know how to use it,” noted Bill Hilf, general manager of Windows Server marketing and platform strategy at Microsoft.

That integration, it turns out, may lead to widespread adoption.

“The ability of Hyper-V to install as part of a standard Windows Server build … that’s going to propel it into the mainstream fairly quickly. If you think about the difficulty of installing a hypervisor like [VMware’s] ESX and then installing an operating system, as opposed to just the hypervisor being a check box during the OS installation, it’s obviously just easier,” Andi Mann, research director for Enterprise Management Associates, told TechNewsWorld.

While VMware’s ESX and related solutions include many mature features, Mann said, Hyper-V is either free with Windows Server 2008 or only costs $28 per server, giving it a stout price advantage.

“I definitely think Hyper-V’s got legs because of what it is, where it comes from, how it’s priced and how easy it’s going to be to deploy,” he added.

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