Microsoft Server Virtualization Product Christened 'Hyper-V'

Microsoft has unveiled the official name of the server virtualization technology that will be included with Windows Server 2008 early next year: Hyper-V.

On Monday at Microsoft TechEd IT Forum 2007 in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft executive Bob Kelly revealed the final name of the product that started life with the code name "Viridian" and morphed into "Windows Server virtualization" in its beta form.

Despite the finished name, Hyper-V will not be a finished product when it ships with Windows 2008 (see related story) early next year. It will still be a test version, with the final iteration expected, according to Microsoft, within 180 days of Windows 2008's launch. That would put the timeframe roughly in August, assuming a February release of Windows 2008.

Server virtualization is the process of uncoupling the operating system software from the physical hardware. It takes many forms, but its chief use currently is to consolidate multiple instances of an OS on a single box, saving money through more efficient use of resources. It also allows more than one OS to be run on a server; for example, Windows Server 2008 and Red Hat Linux can be run side-by-side on the same physical machine. It also has a number of uses for backup, storage and networking infrastructure.

Hyper-V is one of Windows 2008's most anticipated add-ons. Unfortunately, for those waiting with bated breath, it will be far from a complete product, even when the first official version is available. Last May, Microsoft made the decision to cut out a number of important features to make it available in the new server. The casualties included:

  • Live migration, allowing admins to move a virtual machine (VM) from one physical box to another without powering down the server;
  • Hot swapping of resources such as processors, RAM and storage; and
  • Limiting support to 16 processors or cores.

The last item could be especially damaging to enterprise environments, as VMs are notorious resource hogs. Microsoft has hinted that it will eventually add those capabilities, but has given no timeline for the upgrades.

Microsoft's current virtualization offering is Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. While it works well for smaller environments, its feature set and limited scalability leave it substantially behind similar products from industry leader VMware. Microsoft hopes to narrow VMware's lead with Hyper-V in the rapidly growing virtualization market.

Hyper-V will come with every version of Windows 2008. Each of those servers, however -- Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions -- will also be available without Hyper-V, saving buyers a whopping $28. Hyper-V can be managed through System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which was released in October.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at [email protected].