Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Coming in September, Will Challenge VMware

At its Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft confirmed that the final version of Windows Server 2012 is set for September and the company plans to target VMware customers.

Microsoft€™s Windows Server 2012 will be released to manufacturers sometime in August and become generally available for sale in September, the company announced July 10. The software giant also detailed its plans to lure customers to its Hyper-V virtualization platform and away from industry leader VMware.

On the second day of its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, Microsoft shared with an audience of about 16,000 Microsoft partners the performance improvements in Windows Server 2012 that will manage on-premise, cloud and hybrid environments for enterprises. Collectively, Windows Server 2012, its cloud counterpart Windows Azure and Microsoft System Center for managing the entire system, make up the Microsoft €œCloud OS,€ said Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft.

Microsoft also announced a community technology preview of a trio of hosting services that will make it possible for service providers to offer their customers turnkey cloud services, including highly scalable Web site and virtual machine hosting with an extensible self-service portal experience. These services, recently made available on Windows Azure, will now be added to Windows Server 2012, Nadella said.

The company also touted specific performance enhancements in Windows Server, including benchmarks that best those of rival VMware. Windows Server 2012 will support up to 320 logical processors per server, up to 4 terabytes of memory per server and up to 64 virtual processors per virtual machine, said Jeff Woolsey, senior program manager for Windows Server Virtualization at Microsoft.

During a live demonstration, Woolsey said that VMware says they can deliver a maximum of 300,000 input/output instructions per second (I/Os) from a single virtual machine, but that Microsoft, with Windows Server 2012, can deliver more than 1 million I/Os.

€œThat€™s over three times VMware and, folks, I€™m just getting warmed up,€ said Woolsey.

The new server OS also adds a feature Woolsey called €œoffloaded data transfer€ (ODX) for faster backups to storage. He tried to move a 10GB file to storage without ODX and noted how network utilization spiked because of the load. With ODX on, the file was backed up to storage in about 10 seconds.

€œThis type of performance is unheard of €¦ and it makes Server 2012 a no-brainer for cloud storage,€ Woolsey concluded.

Microsoft made another dig at VMware by unveiling a €œSwitch to Hyper-V€ program. Virtualization is essential to enable cloud computing, and VMware has been the leader in virtualization technology, though Microsoft has been challenging it with its Hyper-V hypervisor and related technology. But switching virtualization vendors is a complicated task because of all the configuration issues involved. With the Switch to Hyper-V program €œyou€™ll get tools, resources and guidance to take the risk out of these migrations,€ said Nadella.

He then touted a couple of successful customer conversions to Hyper-V. Fyrsoft, an enterprise consulting services provider, was able to move Pella, a maker of windows and doors typically seen in residential construction, from VMware to Hyper-V, while Microsoft partner Avanade, a technology managed-services provider, successfully migrated Unilever, a global consumer products company, to Hyper-V.

Of Windows Server 2012, Nadella said there have already been more than 500,000 downloads of the release candidate of the OS and that 250 customers are already trying it out, some of them in production. And in true €œeat your own dog food€ fashion, he said the Microsoft Bing search engine runs on Windows Server 2012.

The Worldwide Partner Conference began July 9 with news that the Windows 8 operating system for desktops, laptops and tablet computers, would be released to manufacturing the first week in August and would be generally available by the end of October.