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Microsoft on Thursday fired a shot across the bow of competitors in the virtualization market by releasing a public beta for Hyper-V, its widely awaited virtualization hypervisor that will be part of Windows Server 2008.
Originally slated for release in Q1, Hyper-V works with release candidate 1 of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (x64 version), which is one of the three Server 2008 SKUs that will include the hypervisor, and is available for download from Microsoft's website.
The Hyper-V beta adds quick migration capability, high availability and clustering, and the ability to run Hyper-V as a role in server core role, the low footprint version of Windows Server 2008, said Mike Neil, general manager of virtualization strategy at Microsoft.
The beta will also include integration of virtual roles into the server manager function that's used to enable roles in Server 2008. In addition to standard roles like file and print, Microsoft has enabled virtual roles as well, according to Neil.
But despite the new features, Microsoft hasn't made any changes to the overall user experience, says Neil. "Hyper-V technology is just Windows, and for customers, it works the way they would expect. It doesn't feel like an alien environment like VMware's ESX, which is more of a Linux based environment," said Neil.
Microsoft remains on track to launch Hyper-V within 180 days of the RTM of Windows Server 2008.
Rand Morimoto, president of Convergent Computing, Oakland, Calif., has been using Hyper-V for about four months and has been "extremely pleased" with what Microsoft has delivered.
"The beta has been very stable, and we've been able to take old Virtual Server 2005 and Virtual PC images and just 'boot them up' on Hyper-V. All of our previous Virtual Server 2005 images and demo images moved right across," said Morimoto. "Hyper-V now supports 64-bit guest images, so now all of the 64-bit apps are working in virtual spaces."
But some solution providers wonder how Hyper-V can offer 'true' virtualization when it sits on top of Windows Server 2008, as opposed to other hypervisor-based virtualization technologies like VMware, which have no underlying host operating system.