Microsoft to offer more goodies in free Hyper-V Server update

Coming soon: Live migration of virtual machines, host server clustering

Ratcheting up the competition with virtualization market leader VMware Inc., Microsoft Corp. will include a number of advanced features in its upcoming free server hypervisor software.

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 will include features such as live migration of virtual machines and host server clustering, said Edwin Yuen, senior technical product manager at Microsoft during a talk at its Tech Ed conference in Los Angeles.

Microsoft made the Release Candidate (RC) for Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 available earlier this month. It is available for download now.

The new features will also be included in the paid version of Hyper-V, available to buyers of Windows Server 2008 R2. That software is also in RC status now.

Live migration is a key feature that VMware users have long enjoyed. It enables IT managers to move VMs from one physical server to another without any user downtime. But Live migration is pointless if users are prevented from easily moving software around because of restrictive licensing terms.

Yuen said Microsoft has liberalized licenses for its own server applications. Due to changes made late last year, Microsoft software such as Exchange, SQL Server, SharePoint, Windows Server and others can now be migrated from server to server without users violating their licenses, Yuen said.

The importance "of license portability, we get that now," Yuen said. That portability is true, even if VMs are being moved from server to server using VMware's V-Motion live migration tool.

Microsoft will also now fully support applications running inside VMs from partners such as Novell Inc., Red Hat Inc. and Citrix Systems Inc. "If you have a Red Hat issue, we will attempt to solve it and then escalate it with Red Hat if we can't," he said.

Yuen also touted the upcoming RC of the update to Microsoft's virtualization management software, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. R2 of Virtual Machine Manager can monitor power usage on Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. servers running Hyper-V, and suggest actions if problems crop up. "We manage the VMs, and give you a little bit more," Yuen said.

Microsoft is "dogfooding" Hyper-V on three of its most popular sites. MSDN.com and TechNet.com are both run completely on Hyper-V-enabled servers. They get hit three million and one million times a day, respectively, Yuen said.

Microsoft.com, which gets more than a billion hits a day, is run 50% on Hyper-V "and growing," Yuen said.

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