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Kevin Remde's IT Pro WebLog

Big Virtualization Announcements

WinHEC 2006Announced at WinHEC 2006…

Microsoft made some big announcements about our Virtualization product road map yesterday at WinHEC 2006.  (I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get the news out about it sooner, but was busy attending and presenting at a seminar in St. Louis.)  Two products and an acquisition were announced:

  • Windows Server Virtualization
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)
  • Acquisition of Softricity, Inc

Windows Server Virtualization is the “hypervisor” you may have heard something about.  It’s a thin layer of virtualization that will be optimized for 64 bit environments using the new virtualization support in the newer Intel and AMD processors. 

“Wait a second, Kevin.  I thought Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 was going to also take advantage of the ‘virtualization support’ in the new processors?”

True.  It will.  (Expect to see a free beta of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 soon).  But as opposed to Virtual Server 2005 R2, which is software running on top of the host OS, Windows Server Virtualization is a thin layer that allows multiple OS’s to be managed and run more efficiently, running under a thin, optimized version of “Longhorn” Server.  It will support the same .VHD disk format (so you can move easily to it when it arrives, and will support 64bit guest OS’s as well.  We expect to release it around the time “Longhorn” Server is released.

The Virtual Machine Manager is “a centralized, enterprise management solution for the virtualized data center, to meet the growing customer need for improved physical hardware utilization.”  (When I can’t say it better, I quote the press release.)  The tool is to be a part of the System Center family of tools, and will integrate nicely into that suite for the sake of centrally managing your virtual machines running on both Virtual Server 2005 R2 and Windows Server Virtualization.  Expect to see a beta of this product in a couple months.

The intent to acquire Softricity, Inc. comes from a desire to support something called “virtualized applications”. 


That’s what I said at first, too.  Think about it this way: In Virtual PC or Virtual Server you virtualize entire machine OS installations by putting a virtualization layer in place to make an OS installation think it’s installed and running on it’s own machine, right?  Now take that layer up one level and instead let’s just do that for the applications and services that run on an OS – let them think that they’re installed and running on your OS, when in reality they’re being hosted in a way that doesn’t actually have them installed or potentially conflicting with other applications or services.   Oooo!

“My head hurts.”

Yeah.. mine too.  And add to that the capability to serve up those applications now from a central server instead.  “On-Demand Application Streaming”.  I can’t wait to play with it.  It has some really cool potential.  Apparently it was demonstrated during Bob Muglia’s keynote at the Microsoft Management Summit, so I’m going to watch the recording of his keynote to check it out.

Today, if I weren’t going to be on a plane home, I’d be watching Bill Gate’s keynote being broadcast from WinHEC 2006.  (It’ll be recorded, so I’m sure I’ll see it later.)