Hyper-V Has Landed
At the end of June, Microsoft released to manufacturing its Hyper-V server virtualization for Windows Server 2008, while also making it available for download on the Web. This now makes it possible for early adopters of Windows Server 2008 to use Microsoft-branded server virtualization, rather than paying extra for one of the commercial solutions. As a side note, it's worth mentioning that Redmond actually beat its self-imposed target release date of 180 days after the launch of the server OS itself.
But the VMwares of the world aren't quaking in their boots just yet. Hyper-V requires 64-bit hardware, which may make some organizations think twice due to its associated hardware cost. And while Windows Server 2008 has received good reviews, migration will likely take years.
Features and Speed
But for those who are making an early investment in Windows 2008 and aren't frightened off by the prospect of 64-bit hardware, virtualization using Hyper-V makes a lot of sense. At the very least, the additional memory space that can be directly addressed will make for significantly faster performance for virtual machines (VMs).
Hyper-V can also support a Symmetrical Multi-Processing environment of up to four multi-core processors in a VM. This feature provides the ability to see similar performance on multithreaded applications in a VM, just as you might see it on physical hardware.
For migration and backup, Hyper-V lets you take snapshots of a running VM, making it possible to easily revert to a previously saved state as well as improve the overall backup and recoverability of your VM and its data.
Microsoft has also extended System Center as the primary management tool for virtual as well as physical operations. The System Center Virtual Machine Manager lets sys admins assess the health of VMs, perform backup and migration, provision new VMs and in general take care of a virtual server environment.
Coming up on the Competition
Certainly Hyper-V lacks both the maturity and market reputation of VMware ESX and, to a lesser extent, Citrix XenServer, but it already has some sophisticated features. Organizations should expect a modest amount of growing pains, but it's clear that the availability of Hyper-V is going to give those who've been putting off moving to a virtual infrastructure one more reason for making the virtualization move sooner rather than later.
Peter Varhol is the executive editor,
reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software
developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees
in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university