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Virtual Eyes Are Watching

We have more virtualization news this week, with SWsoft's plans to release software that will let multiple Windows servers run on one machine. There's no denying the merits of server virtualization: You can run different operating systems, of course, but you can also run variants of the same OS on a system that are tuned to specific needs, and -- as SWsoft's example shows -- save on licensing costs by leveraging an single underlying OS for multiple environments. All of that is reason enough to consider virtualization in your environment, and it's hard to argue with the idea that SWsoft can make it work; the company already does this under Linux, and it's pretty much their specialty.

But how long will we see virtualization software that's stand-alone? This is a technology perfectly suited for embedding in operating systems themselves, and indeed that's the approach that's been taken in adding the Xen virtualization engine to the newest Linux kernel -- Xen should be ready for inclusion by the end of the summer at latest. Will Microsoft look to eventually make Windows Virtual Server a tied-in part of Longhorn? Well, yes, actually. So now it depends on how well Redmond's engineers execute the ability to run Linux and other OS images on Windows servers. In essence, the question is whether Microsoft can overcome its Windows-centricity, some disdain for other operating systems, and an outright antipathy to open source and come up with virtualization technology that works well enough with those operating systems to convince people not to employ software from the likes of SWsoft. Prediction Man wouldn't bet the 200-acre spread known as the Down The Road Farm on that happening, which leaves the SWsofts of the world in good shape.