RealTime IT News

Microsoft Jumps Into Virtualization Fray

Microsoft has not just released the cat among the pigeons by releasing Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, it is the cat among the pigeons.

Both its allies and its competitors are fluttering about and squawking at the news.

Microsoft's supporters are, understandably, happy to be able to stretch their wings, while its competitors are keeping a stiff upper lip and pointing out that the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) hypervisor is a first-generation product and, therefore, will lack a few capabilities.

Hyper-V's roots lie in technology from Connectix, which developed virtualization software for Windows and Apple Macs, and was acquired by Microsoft in 2003.

"This has been in the works for a very long time, and it's an expected announcement," VMware group manager for product marketing John Gilmartin told InternetNews.com. (Microsoft did not return a request for comment at press time).

Indeed, Microsoft's been a player in the virtualization space since February 2004, when it released its first beta of Virtual Server 2004 in hopes that this would get customers to migrate to Windows Server 2003.

VMware is squarely in Microsoft's sights, and did the expected, with Gilmartin pointing out that Hyper-V is a "first-generation product" and therefore "doesn't have the features and capabilities our customers are asking for."

"We have tens of thousands of customers running our products in their production environments because we offer the reliability and capability they need," Gilmartin added.

Tim Walsh, director of corporate marketing at Virtual Iron, which offers a platform based on the open source Xen hypervisor, said that VMware is "the most advanced solution, it works at the high end of the market, and can support features from server consolidation to development and test optimization, which are at the low end of the food chain, to disaster recovery, high availability and high capacity."

Virtual Iron's product has "features comparable with VMware but costs less and is lots easier to use," according to Walsh. The company targets the SMB market.

While Microsoft's Hyper-V supports consolidation and testing, it can't support high availability and failover, which are critical for market penetration because "more than half of the users of server virtualization are adopting it to support things like disaster recovery and business continuity," Walsh said.

Competition in the Enterprise

That deficiency will hamper adoption of Hyper-V in the enterprise, he added.

Another competitor doubting Microsoft's ability to compete in the enterprise virtualization space is Sun, which uses the Xen open source hypervisor.

"We're happy to see Microsoft come out with this offering, but Hyper-V is primarily about Windows, and we see heterogeneity, or the ability in the data center to address multiple systems being key," Vijay Sarathy, senior director of xVM, Sun's virtualization line, told InternetNews.com.

Sun's offering can "address Windows and a variety of Linux variants as well as Solaris and Open Solaris ," Sarathy said. (In addition to Windows, Microsoft's Hyper-V also supports two versions of SUSE Linux).

Hyper-V also does not offer live migration, which Sun will unveil in August; instead, it has QuickMigration, which "isn't the same because it halts the system, customers' processes and applications will shut down for some time and they'll be inconvenienced," Sarathy added.

However, Paul Ghostine, vice president of the Provision Networks Division at Quest, whose company unveiled the first hosted Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for Hyper-V in April, is optimistic about the Microsoft hypervisor's chances.

"I believe adoption of Hyper-V will be pretty broad and pretty fast, especially in the SMB space to begin with," he told InternetNews.com.

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