Microsoft's new hypervisor-based virtualization offering, code-name Viridian, now officially named Windows Server Virtualization (WSV), is slated for beta this fall with the RTM of Windows Server 2008. Part one of this column discussed WSV as it compares to the currently shipping Virtual Server product. Part two describes the delay of a number of key features originally planned for the release of WSV, as well as management integration, and migration and training plans.
Windows Server 2008 delayed features
Along with recent schedule updates for Windows Server 2008, Microsoft announced that several key features would not make it into the initial release of WSV. The delay of a Live Migration feature (similar to VMware's VMotion) has perhaps been the most disappointing (through Microsoft claims that migrating a typical virtual machine will take only 1-2 seconds, it will still not be a "live" and transparent move).
Other features that slipped out of the initial release include Hot add for processors, memory, networking and storage, as well as support for more than 16 virtual processors or cores. In order to become a full enterprise competitive product, these features will need to make their way into an early Service Pack, along with other enhancements needed to keep up as VMware and Xen continue to add features to their already shipping hypervisors.
Windows Server 2008 management
Outside of the migration issue, Microsoft offers some nice integration with other Microsoft tools through the Systems Center Management module called Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Currently in beta and slated for RTM 1.0 this summer, it offers management capabilities today for Virtual Server, and will carry over to WSV when it ships (probably with a follow up release coinciding with WSV).
Features include provisioning and management of virtual machines, tools for determining what and where to virtualize, physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-physical (V2P) migration tools, self-service provisioning (under administrator control), and integration with other Systems Center modules (e.g., SMS and MOM are now integrating into Systems Center).
Over time, integration with other Microsoft environments and management tools such as Exchange and SQL Server, and capabilities from the SoftGrid technology will offer interesting additional connecting points for integrating management of physical and logical Windows Servers, desktops and applications. This will be an advantage for Microsoft, but will likely take longer than we'd like to see.
Getting the channel up to speed
With WSV proliferating as it comes out as a Service Pack to Windows Server 2008 next year, it will be critical for Microsoft channel partners to make the jump to the server virtualization paradigm quickly, if they haven't already with Virtual Server. Microsoft training centers and partner learning centers will be getting updated information on both Windows Server 2008 and WSV. According to Microsoft, it is yet to be determined if there will be separate certifications for WSV, but most likely, it will be part of Windows Server 2008 training and certification. For those who are currently supporting Virtual Server and who will be migrating users to WSV, there will be migration tools available at the same time as WSV to help in migration from Virtual Server to WSV.
For more information read part one, Windows Server 2008 virtualization: Prepare your customers.
About the author:Barb Goldworm is president and chief analyst of Focus Consulting a research, analyst and consulting firm focused on systems, software, and storage. Barb has spent thirty years in various technical, marketing, senior management, and industry analyst positions with IBM, Novell, StorageTek, Enterprise Management Associates, and multiple successful startups. A frequent speaker, columnist, and author of numerous white papers and research studies, she has just released a book entitled "Blade Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs." She recently chaired the Server Blade Summit conference on blades and virtualization, has been the keynote speaker at multiple Virtualization Summits, created and chaired the network storage component of Interop, and has been one of the top three ranked analyst/knowledge expert speakers at Storage Networking World. Email Barb directly.