Microsoft has revealed how it plans to offer virtualisation in Windows Server 2008, reaffirming a 27 February launch date, unveiling pricing and packaging options and announcing the virtualisation SKUs it plans to offer.
The raft of announcements were made at the company's TechEd bash underway this week in Barcelona, Spain, and underline its intentions of coming in at a third of the total cost of an equivalent deployment from market leader VMware.
Bob Vissey, who made the price comparison, qualified it with the remark that it must take into account 'the entire stack', which includes the OS, the hypervisor and the management platform on top. As he himself commented, this is "the traditional Microsoft play of a low-cost, high-volume entry".
The Viridian hypervisor, which now has its official product name of Hyper-V, will be available in SKUs of both the Data Center and Enterprise Editions of WS2008, and Vissey speculated that, while SKUs of the two will be available without it, the expectation is that most customers will want it, given the current buzz around server virtualisation.
In terms of the virtual machine (VM) capacity of the two editions, meanwhile, the Redmond, Washington-based OS heavyweight is carrying through the packages it first made available in WS2003, namely Data Center comes with unlimited VMs, while an Enterprise license supports up to four.
The management product, which was also just announced, is the System Center Virtual Machine Manager, a separately licensed package which presently works with Mirosoft's Virtual Server software. The essential difference here is that Virtual Server is not hypervisor-based but rather runs on top of the OS and, while there is no public statement from Microsoft to end-of-life it, the company clearly expects demand for it to wane rapidly once virtualisation based on Hyper-V becomes available.
Indeed, it is sweetening the pot for customers to migrate to a hypervisor-based virtual environment from Virtual Server. "We allow for the Hyper-V-based technology to be installed on our Server Core roles, which are the minimal install options for Windows Server for customers who do not want non-essential parts like GUI and IE for a given application," said Vissey. "This means less patching and a smaller footprint, so people can get a low-footprint OS with the hypervisor and manageability."
In terms of the Virtual Machine Manager, therefore, there is still some work to be done for it to work in environments based on Hyper-V, Vissey limiting himself to saying it would be updated for that purpose and available 'very soon'.
This is Microsoft setting out its stall for next year's push into hypervisor-based server virtualisation, and while it comes as no surprise, it confirms the company's intentions. While it will not have VMware quaking, it will at least spur it on to stay ahead of a competitor of Microsoft's clout, and now it will have a clearer idea what it is going to be up against.
And of course, it underlines the fact that Microsoft's interests lie in pushing the server OS with Hyper-V rather than in taking Virtual Server forward, even though a smaller contender in the virtualisation market, SWsoft, makes much of the fact that it has hypervisor-based and OS virtualisation in its armoury and intends to continue with both.
"They do some interesting things that Virtual Server does not, for instance on the high end for database apps, so it may make sense for them to continue to invest in that [non-hypervisor-based] technology," Vissey conceded. Virtual Server and SWsoft's Virtuozzo 'are two different technologies', he argued.