Viridian Delay Sets Back Next-Gen Windows Virtualization

Microsoft has pushed back its plans to deliver the much-anticipated public beta of its next-generation server virtualization software, code-named “Viridian.” Instead of delivering the beta in the first half of the year, Microsoft will offer it up to the public sometime in the second half of 2007.

The company still plans to deliver its Windows Server “Longhorn” version by the end of this year and is sticking to its original timetable for delivering a final Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 release within 180 days of the Longhorn release.

Why the Delay?

“In an IT environment of ever-growing multi-core processor systems, Windows Server virtualization is being designed to scale across a much broader range of systems than the competition,” writes Mike Neil, Microsoft’s general manager for virtualization strategy, in the Windows Server Division WebLog. “We’re designing Windows Server virtualization to scale up to 64 processors, which I’m proud to say is something no other vendor’s product supports.

“We are also providing a much more dynamic VM environment with hot-add of processors, memory, disk and networking as well a greater scalability with more SMP support and memory,” Neil continued.

Cause for Concern?

The delay doesn’t indicate any particularly troublesome issues for Microsoft, Galen Schreck, a principal analyst for Forrester Research, told TechNewsWorld.

“I haven’t seen what the underlying reason for the delay might be. I suspect the usual software quality or stability issues that would plague any complex product,” Schreck explained.

“One of the reasons I’m not that concerned is because Microsoft really needs to make the window of time between Longhorn and Viridian as close to zero as possible. Based on what we’re seeing, virtualization is the ‘killer app’ for Longhorn, and it is very likely that customers would delay their upgrades until Viridian was available,” he added.

Microsoft’s Viridian is certainly a much more complicated product than its existing Virtual Server. Veridian is a type of hypervisor that lets the a virtualized OS run more directly on server hardware rather than directly on top of the server’s primary operating system.

VMWare currently dominates the x86 market for virtualization, while Red Hat and Novell already have their own virtualization offerings. Larger Unix and mainframe-class enterprise servers have also been playing in the virtualization space for years.

“Although virtualization is not new to Windows, the MS Virtual Server product was not suitable for more performance-sensitive or critical applications, as it had more overhead and no live migration capability,” Schreck said.

“A major reason for this pent-up demand is that finally Windows will have a built-in and supported virtualization capability that is on par with VMware from a performance standpoint,” he concluded.

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