Microsoft’s Two-Pronged Server Virtualization Attack

Voce Today, Microsoft gave their next-gen hypervisor a new name and took the covers off of several aspects related to their upcoming server virtualization plans. Hyper-V (formerly known as Viridian and Windows Server Virtualization) comes in two basic flavors: bundled with Windows Server 2008 and as a standalone product. The first is what we already knew it was going to be, a role in the OS that could be added like IIS or any other service. For those that don’t want to re-buy a hypervisor, namely those that are purchasing it for their VMware environments, they offer Windows Server 2008 without Hyper-V at a $28 discount. By adding Hyper-V as a nominal fee, they hope to chip away at VMware’s huge market share. For many Microsoft shops, this might be an enticing option. Feature for feature, it doesn’t stack up well against ESX at all, but for those that are comfortable with the Microsoft way of doing things and have plans to deploy or expand their System Center use, this might offer “good-enough” capability for their short-term, consolidation-focused goals while Microsoft catches up on developing Hyper-V’s missing features. And hey, it’s practically free.

The second product, Microsoft Hyper-V Server, is a more interesting story. Note the title doesn’t even mention Windows — Microsoft has shown that they are willing to separate server virtualization from their full server OS into a lighter-weight version that will be faster to deploy. Wide-scale, server OS deployments don’t happen overnight, and this gives firms the flexibility to deploy Microsoft’s server virtualization separately from Windows Server 2008; giving Microsoft a second vehicle to grab more server virtualization market share. It remains to be seen, however, just how separate the development of Hyper-V Server is from Windows Server. Weighing in at roughly one gigabyte, it has the appearance of being a stripped-down Server Core installation of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. Will enhancements like Live Migration be timed with Windows Server 2008 R2? Going forward, Microsoft has to prove in their products, from Windows Server through the System Center family, that server virtualization is not just about the hypervisor — it’s about overall virtual infrastructure management and how it weaves into their strategies like creating effective high availability solutions and disaster recovery plans.

By Christopher Voce

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