Microsoft Releases Virtual Server Beta

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-02-18

Microsoft Releases Virtual Server Beta

Microsoft Corp. has released the first beta for its Virtual Server 2004 to a select group of customers and expects the product to be generally available in the first half of this year. Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., in February acquired the Virtual Machine assets of Connectix Corp., a privately held company in San Mateo, Calif., that has been involved in Virtual Machine (VM) technology since its inception in 1988.

Since then, the engineers in Redmond have been putting Virtual Server through a security review as well as adding new features and functionality such as SCSI support, dual-node clustering, improved control through an enhanced Com API (application programming interface), as well as integration with the Windows Server management infrastructure, like Microsoft Operations Manager and Active Directory.

Click here to read more about Windows Server integration.

Eric Berg, the group product manager for Windows Server in Redmond, Wash., told eWEEK in an interview on Wednesday that the beta program consisted of some 30 joint development partners and 15,000 users who had signed up for its early customer preview program last year. "We expect the product to be released to manufacturing by the middle of this year," he said.

"This is a virtual machine solution for Windows Server 2003 that spans development, test and production environments, and delivers improved hardware efficiency and increased productivity for administrators and developers as it will be far easier to deploy and manager these machines in that environment," he said.

Targeted production environments included those customers who wanted to migrate their legacy business applications, which could be currently running on Windows 2000 or NT 4.0. "This way they can run that application in a virtual machine on top of Windows Server 2003," Berg said.

Virtual Server 2004 will also allow customers to run multiple operating systems concurrently on a single x86 hardware server, including Linux and Unix-based operating systems.

"If you think about the architecture, you have Windows Server 2003, Virtual Server as the virtualization layer running on top, and then you create the individual virtual machines," Berg described.

"Well, that virtual machine is an x86 server, so it will support a broad range of x86 operating systems that can run in that environment. So you can run Linux and Unix and other operating systems in that environment," he said.

But Microsoft was going to do its work and tune the performance around Windows so that experience will be very good for the customer. At the same time, customers will be able to run other operating systems there, Berg said, adding that Microsoft would not support these other operating systems and applications.

Next Page: Virtualization Meets the Core Window Kernel?

Virtualization Meets the Core

Window Kernel?">

Berg also skirted the issue of whether Microsoft would integrate this virtual server technology into the core Windows kernel going forward, saying that Microsofts current focus was on selling it as a stand-alone, separate server product.

"You know, there are some core capabilities in Windows Server 2003 today that deal with resource management but that dont have the full range of capabilities that you have in Virtual Server. But there are some capabilities in the operating system that can address certain capabilities," he said.

While pricing was not disclosed today, Berg said customers should expect this to be extremely competitive and that Microsoft would deliver "a great amount of value in terms of price performance for customers and we will be pricing accordingly.

The announcement of the Virtual Server beta follows the news last November that Microsoft had released its Virtual PC technology to manufacturing at a lower price than the original Connectix product.

There has been a lot of activity around virtualization firms in recent months. In December, storage vendor EMC Corp. bought VMware Inc. in a bid to offer combined storage and server virtualization and management tools.

Also in December, open source and Linux provider Red Hat Inc. announced it was acquiring Minneapolis-based Sistina Software Inc., (/article2/0,4149,1417646,00.asp) a storage infrastructure software company, for some $31 million, to be paid through the issuance of Red Hat common stock.

"Concurrent with Red Hats Open Source Architecture strategy, the acquisition will provide Enterprise Linux customers a path to virtualization and vendor-independent storage solutions. The acquisition of the Sistina technology and world class development team, in close collaboration with the open-source community, will greatly accelerate the availability and advancement of open-source storage solutions for the enterprise," said Paul Cormier, Red Hats executive vice president of Engineering, at that time.

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