Hyper-V Delay May Slow Windows Server 2008 Adoption

The final version of Microsoft's hypervisor product will be made available as an add-on later in 2008.

LOS ANGELES-Enterprises are likely to hold off deploying Windows Server 2008 until the final hypervisor product, known as Hyper-V, is made available sometime in the next six months, analysts say.

Microsoft, which will release the latest update to its server software at an event here Feb. 27 titled "Heroes happen {here}," has pushed back the release of Hyper-V and cut some of the features originally planned.

While Windows Server 2008 will contain the beta bits for Hyper-V, the final product will be made available as an add-on later in 2008. But that decision is likely to delay enterprise adoptions of the new server.

"We do not expect to see enterprise deployments of Windows Server 2008 of any significance until the final version of Hyper-V is out," James Staten, principal analyst at Forrester Research, told eWEEK.

But Microsoft has made early previews of the hypervisor available to most enterprises that want them, so that they can start getting familiar with it and determine whether it will meet their needs. "This is a trick they have learned from the Linux market," Staten said.

The long development cycle for this new server product, which was five years in the making, has also allowed Linux to encroach on Microsoft's base, Staten said, adding that this is unlikely to significantly erode the opportunities for Windows Server 2008.

But its release marks a milestone for Microsoft, as the software includes lots of key technologies and services, many of which have been available to clients in early candidate form for several months.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, said he believes that sharing the beta server code with enterprises has helped create excitement around the software.

"IT shops seem eager to deploy the related solutions. Enterprise customers don't get excited about much, but when they do, as they are now, it certainly indicates their support for that offering," Enderle said.

While analyst Staten said he believes that ease of use is the biggest advantage Windows Server 2008 has over its Linux and Unix competitors, "which is still something the Linux and Unix worlds struggle with," it is still just too early to tell if the product is ready to run enterprise mission-critical applications, he said.

"At this point but we don't see anything in the product that should cause IBM, HP or Sun any concern over their Unix and mainframe offerings. But, that being said, Microsoft and Intel have been slowly eating into traditional Unix markets by adding key availability, diagnostics and reliability features," Staten said.

Windows Server 2008 made further strides in those areas, Staten said, bringing integrated clustering, better diagnostics and a stronger operating system foundation, which should yield reliability. "Windows' core should shrink the attack footprint, while manageability has been improved with Microsoft Operations Manager," Staten said.

But the software giant faces a challenge in capturing the new applications and services that are being built on higher-level application platforms that are operating-system independent.

"For a while, these types of applications, built in PHP, Ruby and other languages and constructs, didn't run as well on Windows. With IIS7 and the Windows Web Server Edition they do better, but they are coming from behind, here, so it could be a real challenge," he said.

But Allison Watson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's worldwide partner group, recently told eWEEK that there will be more than 1,200 shipping ISV applications for Visual Studio at launch, more than 1,000 applications for SQL Server and 1,200 shipping applications for the core Windows Server.