Microsoft Fills More Key Virtualization Gaps

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Microsoft late last week made Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 available as a public download, a move that ups the ante in the red-hot virtualization space by giving Microsoft a standalone virtualization hypervisor with features on par with those of VMware's ESXi.

Microsoft introduced its first Hyper-V virtualization hypervisor with Windows Server 2008, but that version was criticized by solution providers for not including virtualization features that VMware has been offering for years. VMware capitalized on this by highlighting the gaps in Microsoft's virtualization portfolio, but Microsoft has plugged these holes with two new features: Live Migration and Cluster Shared Volumes.

Live Migration, which allows administrators to move running virtual machines from one system to another system without any perceptible downtime, has been part of VMware's arsenal since 2004, and VMware hasn't been shy about mentioning this. Microsoft included a 'Quick Migration' feature in Windows Server 2008 that it claimed was almost as fast, but the company is nonetheless touting Live Migration as an important milestone.

Another area that VMware has targeted is Microsoft's lack of clustered file systems in Windows. This gap is now filled with Cluster Shared Volumes, a high availability feature that uses a distributed-access file system to let any node in the cluster access the shared storage and host virtual machine.

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Microsoft last week released System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 to manufacturing and said it plans to offer the software to volume licensing customers Oct. 1. System Center VMM 2008 R2 is a key virtualization component for Microsoft because it can manage both Hyper-V and VMware environments.

With Hyper-V R2 and System Center VMM 2008 R2, Microsoft is now bringing a more comprehensive virtualization solution to market than it has in the past, and this will no doubt translate into more aggressive talk about a 'VMware Tax' that's associated with its rival's virtualization solution.