Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

In Virtualization Race, Microsoft Unbundles In Bid To Catch Up

Microsoft's virtualization technology, long planned to be an integrated part of Windows Server 2008, will now be available as a standalone product as well. Is Microsoft bowing to customer needs, reacting to market pressures, or reading the regulation tea leaves? Some of each.

The software company revealed last week it will offer its hypervisor--code-named Viridian, and newly dubbed Hyper-V Server--as a standalone server. The list price: 28 bucks. That's not free like Citrix Systems' XenExpress, but discounts can be expected as OEMs bundle Hyper-V Server into their products. Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Lenovo are among the computer makers with plans to distribute it.

Hyper-V Server will have a small footprint, comprising the hypervisor and little else, akin to VMware's ESX Server. Hyper-V Server's job is to support the creation and management of one or more virtual machines on a server. "That gets particularly interesting for customers if they want to run virtualization on a machine that doesn't run Windows," says Microsoft server marketing VP Andy Lees. Microsoft is working with Novell on "bidirectional virtualization" between Windows and Novell's SUSE Linux/Xen combo.

Microsoft explains the decision to unbundle the hypervisor from Windows Server 2008 as giving customers more flexibility and choice, though it must be noted that Hyper-V will only come packaged with 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008. It also could be viewed as a pre-emptive move to steer clear of antitrust sensitivities, especially in Europe, where regulators have levied a steep fine on Microsoft for bundling its Media Player with the desktop Windows operating system.

Competitors include Citrix, Virtual Iron Software, VMware, and most recently Oracle, all of which layer management software on top of their hypervisors. Microsoft last week released System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007, its answer to other tools. Management could be the layer where Microsoft has an advantage. "System Center is a much broader infrastructure than [VMware's] Virtual Infrastructure," says Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman.

  • 1