Microsoft Hyper-V gets a seat at the big table

Microsoft now has its own Type-1 virtual machine monitor

Microsoft announced on Thursday that Hyper-V was released to manufacturing, and then about two seconds later the media frenzy began.

The company repeatedly stated that it would release Hyper-V within 180 days after the launch of Windows Server 2008. And while they removed a few key features in order to make sure they released a quality, stable product, they did beat the August time frame.

So finally after some three years of development work, Microsoft now has its own Type-1 virtual machine monitor, a virtualization hypervisor technology that it can be proud of, and one that earns the Redmond giant a seat at the big virtual table. The company finally has its own hypervisor to speak of when comparing its server virtualization technologies to others such as VMware, Citrix, Virtual Iron, Red Hat, Oracle, Sun, and Parallels -- to name but a few. While Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 served a purpose and filled a void early on in the virtualization race, it couldn't stand up against the features and performance of its bare-metal competitors -- even with the low price of "free."

Microsoft said that Hyper-V will offer customers a reliable, scalable and high-performance virtualization platform that plugs into customers' existing IT infrastructures and will enable them to consolidate some of the most demanding workloads.

"Customers who buy Windows Server 2008 are not only getting the scalability benefits, the high performance and reliability, and all the great things that Windows Server is known for; as of today they can benefit from integrated virtualization with Hyper-V," said Bill Hilf, general manager of Windows Server marketing and platform strategy at Microsoft.

Hilf said that there have already been more than 1 million evaluations of Hyper-V, and more than 250 customers have participated in the early adopter programs for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. Land O'Lakes, HotSchedules, and The Scooter Store were some of the first customers to deploy Hyper-V and experience its benefits firsthand.

Microsoft has also been eating its own dog food by using Hyper-V to reshape their lab operations and operate the company's Web sites. Back in March, the company successfully migrated their MSDN sites and then followed that up with the migration of their TechNet sites in April. To continue rolling out high scale Web sites, they've also virtualized 25 percent of the production traffic load for Microsoft.com. By the end of June, they are expecting virtualization to handle 50 percent of the load, and then ultimately 100 percent once they've completed the deployment of their new hardware infrastructure across diverse data centers.

To help both customers and partners assess whether their existing servers are good candidates for virtualization using Hyper-V, Microsoft has released the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 3.1 Beta to help accelerate virtualization planning and deployment. The final release of MAP 3.1 is expected in July and will be available for free.

In addition, more than 130 independent software vendors have certified a total of 150 applications on Windows Server 2008. The first three vendors to receive the Certified for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V designation were Symantec, Diskeeper, and IBM. This designation identifies applications that have been independently tested to exploit Hyper-V capabilities and meet mission-critical expectations in a virtualized environment. Along the same lines, original equipment manufacturer vendors such as Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., HP, IBM, NEC, Sun Microsystems, and Unisys are now qualified to ship and create systems with Hyper-V. In all, 250 systems from server and white-box vendors are already logo-qualified for Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V.

Now, Hyper-V users must wait for the release of the upcoming Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 product, currently in Beta, so that they can effectively manage their Hyper-V environment.

New Microsoft Windows Server 2008 customers can download Hyper-V now; and for those customers who were early adopters of the technology, Microsoft said they will be able to update their Hyper-V installation on July 8, when Microsoft plans to roll out the update via Windows Update.

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