New Test Releases of Windows Server 2008, 'Viridian' Imminent
Published: September 12, 2007
by Alex Woodie
Microsoft is very close to delivering the first release candidate (RC) of Windows Server 2008 and the first community technology preview (CTP) of "Viridian," the hypervisor layer for Windows Server 2008 that will be called Windows Server Virtualization, the software giant said from the VMworld 2007 conference this week. In other virtual news, Microsoft shipped the first version of its Virtual Machine Manager, and announced deeper support by Citrix Systems, which is buying XenSource, for its Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format.
Microsoft is under the gun to deliver new server virtualization software that can compete with industry leader VMware. With VMware getting the funny money from Wall Street thanks to its recent IPO (and funny it is--VMware's market capitalization, at about $27 billion, is about 50 percent larger than General Motor's) and the feature-shrink and product delays affecting Viridian and Windows Server 2008, the company can't afford another setback.
This week, the company announced that it will deliver the first CTP of Viridian at the same time it delivers the first RC of Windows Server 2008. And when exactly will that be? Well, Microsoft is playing its cards close to the vest, and won't say exactly. But rest assured that it will be "soon," according to company spokespeople. Considering that Microsoft has already delivered Windows Server 2008 RC0 to its technology adoption partners (TAP), chances seem good that the new bits will be made more widely available to beta tests in the next week or two.
In the meantime, the world's largest software company gave us some other virtual cud to chew on, namely the delivery of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which formerly went by the codename "Carmine." SCVMM provides the human-level interface and controls for managing the logical partitions and virtual machines created by virtualization products, and as such plays a critical role in Microsoft's multi-pronged virtualization strategy.
The first release of SCVMM can be downloaded from Microsoft's Web site now, and will officially go on sale next month. Microsoft will be selling SCVMM two ways. The first is a bundle called the System Center Management Suite Enterprise license, which includes other members of the System Center suite--namely Configuration Manager 2007, Operations Manager 2007, and Data Protection Manager 2007. SCVMM's integration with these products will allow administrators to monitor, patch, and backup their virtual environments as they would for physical environments. This bundle costs $860 per physical host, and supports an unlimited number of virtual machines. The second offering, called the SCVMM 2007 Workgroup edition, will allow users to manage an unlimited number of virtual machines spread across up to five physical hosts. Workgroup edition licenses will cost $499 each, and will become available in January.
Microsoft also announced that, in addition to managing virtual machines created by Virtual Server 2005 R2 (available now) and Windows Server Virtualization (when it becomes officially available 180 days following the release of Windows Server 2008), SCVMM will eventually be able to control virtual machines created by other virtualization products, namely VMware's ESX Server and XenSource. Microsoft says that, by enabling customers' entire virtual X64 infrastructures to be managed from a single console or command line, it will greatly simplify life for administrators.
Support for XenSource and VMware--which, together with Microsoft make up the big dogs of the virtual world, but by no means are the only virtualization solutions on the market--will be delivered with the next release of SCVMM, which is slated for delivery at the same time as the Windows Server Virtualization hypervisor is officially released. With the recent delay of Windows Server 2008 into the second quarter of 2008, that puts the release of Windows Server Virtualization and SCVMM version 2.0 at the end of the third quarter of 2008, about a year from now.
Microsoft also announced a closer partnership with Citrix, the Windows application emulation giant, which has also been moving into the server and application virtualization space. According to Microsoft, Citrix has committed to supporting Microsoft's VHD format in a future release of its Desktop Server product, as well as in future releases of its application virtualization software. The VHD format is important because it makes it relatively easy for users to move their applications and data among different virtual machines. Citrix already supports VHD in some of its products, and so does XenSource, which Citrix plans to buy for $500 million.
With the support of Citrix behind it, the VHD spec creeps ever closer to becoming a standard for desktop virtualization, an area that both Microsoft and Citrix intend to strongly develop and define. "Agreement on VHD is a necessary first step we are taking to ensure IT can rapidly adopt the full benefits of virtualization," says Wes Wasson, the vice president of worldwide marketing for Citrix. "Standardization is critical to mainstream adoption of virtualized solutions."
Microsoft is hoping other vendors get hip to the VHD game, and to that end announced the Quickstart Get Virtual Community, a new Web site that provides vendors with information and training on Microsoft's virtualization offerings for desktops and servers, as well as a way to promote their own products. The community is open to Gold Certified partners only, and can be accessed at www.quickstartgetvirtual.com.
Last but not least, Microsoft announced a new Microsoft Installer (MSI) utility designed to be used with SoftGrid Application Virtualization, which is a key product in Microsoft's application streaming and desktop virtualization strategy. The new MSI utility will allow applications based on SoftGrid to be distributed using the same tools that are used to distribute applications to traditional physical computers. The MSI utility should be available for download by the end of the year.
Microsoft Delays Windows Server 2008
Citrix Buys Virtualization Challenger XenSource for $500 Million
Microsoft Slashes 'Viridian' Features to Meet Ship Date
Microsoft Ships Public Beta of Virtual Machine Manager
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