Microsoft Releases Beta of Key Virtualization Product

Santa's not due for awhile yet, but for those waiting on Microsoft's next version of its highly anticipated virtualization product, it's Christmas day.

Microsoft today made a surprise announcement that Hyper-V, code-named "Viridian," is available as a public beta with Windows Server 2008 RC1 Enterprise edition. Originally, Hyper-V was scheduled to ship with the RTM version of Windows 2008 in Q1 of next year.

The initial version is restricted to the 64-bit version of Windows 2008, and is currently only available in an English-U.S. version. The final version of Hyper-V is expected to ship about 180 days after RTM, Microsoft has consistently stated.

A Microsoft press release indicated that a number of new features have been added to the beta since the last community technology preview (CTP) of Hyper-V in September. They include "Quick Migration, high availability, Server Core role and Server Manager integration," according to the release.

It's worth noting that Quick Migration isn't the same as Live migration. Live migration -- the ability to move virtual machines from one physical machine to another without shutting down a server, eliminating downtime -- was one of a number of key features cut out of an earlier version of Viridian to meet the deadline of incorporation into Windows 2008.

Still, Hyper-V is expected to make waves in the marketplace. Hyper-V is a hypervisor, a thin layer of software that sits on top of hardware and manages interactions between virtual machines above, and the hardware below. It's Microsoft's key product in a suite of virtualization-related offerings, which also include a management program, System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

Microsoft badly wants a bigger piece of the virtualization pie, given the explosive growth of the market. The largest vendor in the market, VMware, had a hugely successful IPO last August, demonstrating the strength of the market. In addition, new vendors are popping up every day, and established large vendors such as Sun and Oracle are developing virtualization offerings around their core products.

Virtualization involves the abstracting, or decoupling, of software from hardware. Depending on the virtualization product used, it has a number of benefits for an IT department, including:

  • The ability to move many virtual servers onto a single, underutilized physical server, improving efficiency;
  • The ability to run multiple OSes such as Windows NT, Windows Server 2003 and Linux on a single machine; and
  • The ability to test new products on myriad OSes while isolating them from a production network.

About the Author

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