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Microsoft Virtualization Products Face Delays

Several Microsoft virtualization products are seeing their shipping dates slip.

The first service pack for Virtual Server 2005 R2 has been delayed from the first quarter of this year to the next quarter. Arguably the bigger news is that the public beta of Windows Server virtualization will slide from the first half of 2007 to the second half. No more precise dates were available on the Windows Server Division Weblog, where the announcement was made.

According to Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager for virtualization strategy, the delays in the Windows Server virtualization (codenamed Viridian) are due to Microsoft's desire to make it more scalable. The shipping version will be able to handle up to 64 processors, which he claims is unprecedented in the industry.

"The primary drivers are around meeting our internal goals for performance and scalability. 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," Neil stated on the Web site.

In addition, Windows Server virtualization is gaining more functionality, including the ability to add memory, disk space and processors without shutting down a server. Those ambitious goals, Neil states, are causing the slowdown.

"We still have some work to do to have the beta meet the 'scale-up' bar we have set. Also, we're tuning Windows Server virtualization to run demanding enterprise IT workloads, even I/O intensive workloads, so performance is very important and we still have some work to do here."

However, Neil continues to maintain that Windows Server virtualization is still on schedule for release within six months of "Longhorn" Server, Microsoft's successor to Windows Server 2003. As a side note, Neil says that Longhorn is still slated for release to manufacturing in the second half of 2007, with Beta 3 coming in the first half of the year.

Neil chalks up the delay in Virtual Server R2 SP1 to the need to support three more operating systems: SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, Solaris 10 and the latest CTP build of Longhorn. That should be very good news for admins and developers testing and readying Longhorn for deployment.

The main upgrades to Virtual Server R2 SP 1 are scalability related. They include the ability to host 64 virtual machines (VMs) on 32-bit Windows Server hosts, and 512 VMs on x64 Windows Server hosts -- if you have the RAM to and disk space to handle it. Virtual machines are notorious resource hogs, especially in the area of RAM.

The addition of the SuSE Linux support in SP1 might be due to popularity. Neil mentions in the post that in less than a year, there have been more than 15,000 downloads of the Linux add-in for Virtual Server R2. He draws the conclusion that this indicates strong interest in running Linux on top of Windows.

Virtualization technology allows a number of benefits, including the ability to consolidate servers by making them more efficient, running multiple operating systems on one server and improving testing environments by trying out software in multiple environments.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at kward@1105media.com.

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