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Virtualization – Microsoft IT Forum '07

Richard Siddaway does an excellent job of summarizing this afternoon’s keynote announcements:

  • The hypervisor becomes hyper-V and there will be a sku dedicated to the role
  • Hyper-V supports up to 64GB in the guest OS
  • PHP is natively supported in IIS 7
  • SC VMM2 will mange VMWare as well as Microsoft virtualisation products
  • Softgrid becomes Application Virtualisation with beta 1 of v4.5 announced
  • A new CTP of SQL Server 2008 becomes available this month with most of the new features
  • TechNet get more functionality with

Also, for a more detailed write-up: see Thomas Lee.

What’s the pay attention to here? Primarily, virtualization. In a discussion with some folks this morning, James drew out that Microsoft is a bit upset at not getting enough of the virtualization lime-light. There’s that big shiny object over there everyone is enamored of.

Characterizing Microsoft Virtualization

There’s 3 things, at the moment, to sort of think about when it comes to Microsoft Virtualization:

  1. The newly announced, stand-alone “Hyper-V” (best product name that should be an MC name so far) hypervisor. That is, a hypervisor pulled apart from the Windows OS. During the analyst session this morning, fellow analysts peppered with questions about running on firmware – directly on the hardware. While there were no direct answers to that kind of future-looking scenario – come on, that’s what’s gotta happen. Which fits well with the next item…
  2. Microsoft wants to commoditize virtualization as quickly as possible. That is, make it “not matter” in the sense that it’s just everywhere, sitting around for use. The price-point for Hyper-V is shockingly low – so low it might as well be zero, but as James reminded me, the EU might not like that so much. In a weird way, seems like open source could help there, but I’m sure Microsoft has an (metaphoric) ankle bracelet on no matter what.
  3. Application Virtualization is the first differentiator in Microsoft’s marketing bullets-bucket. That is, the first in the sense of what they trot out – I can’t speak to the reality thereof. Here, it’s all about Softricty’s (they call it Softgrid now) ability to run, e.g., multiple version of Word on a machine at once. While that may seem, you know, sort of how things can be done in other platforms – Java and even OS X in some cases – in the land were the centralized registry is king, I guess you need a special layer to run Word 98 and Word 2007 side-by-side. Tragically, it looks like I haven’t written up Softricty and friends – check Mary Jo Foley from a few months back.


Also of note is a certain “we’ve fixed the licensing issues of the past” tone in conversations. Sure, you still – of course! – need to get a license for each guest version of Windows you run, but with the Windows Datacenter version of System Center, the licenses for management of each of those guests in unlimited; Windows Enterprise Server will manage 4; while Standard will manage one guest.

Now, I’m no license haruspication, but I know people get all tee’ed off at this topic with Microsoft Virtualization.


When it comes to the actual management done with Microsoft Virtualization, the message is: not only do we manage above the guest level, but we can go down to the application level and start mucking around with the virtualization settings as needed. And also, we’re the only ones who do that. The use case here is the old “the server is limited to 28 gigs of ram, but it’s hammered, so we need to open it up to the full 64 gigs.”

Unless I’ve got my head-notes wrong, there’s plenty vendors who do that kind of thing in the rest of the Microsoft world. Virtugo comes to mind in VMWare-land. No doubt, “if customers demand it” these vendors will jump into Microsoft-land.

More to Come

Tomorrow I have some time scheduled with David Greschler to do a bit of video on Microsoft Virtualization. We’ll see if anything new comes up. Feel free to leave comments below or email me if you have questions ;>

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Categories: Conferences, Enterprise Software, Systems Management.

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2 Responses

  1. hey man – you surely mean you're no "licensing haruspex"… haruspication is what they do