December 13, 2007, 1:50 PM — Microsoft Thursday did something it rarely does. The company released a beta
for a long-awaited technology -- in this case its Windows Server 2008 virtualization
technology Hyper-V -- ahead of schedule.
Hyper-V, formerly code-named "Viridian," is now available for download
Web site and is ready to be used with the current x64 beta version of Windows
Server 2008, which is also available online.
The technology, called a hypervisor, is the underlying virtualization technology
for the server release, which is a major update that's expected to be released
on Feb. 27, 2008. A beta of Hyper-V originally was planned to be released on
that date as well.
Virtualization, or the ability to use virtual machine technology to run multiple
OSes on a physical server, is widely seen as a disruptive technology and is
becoming increasingly important as companies seek to cut costs and consolidate
hardware in their data centers and IT environments. Microsoft had originally
intended to release Hyper-V as part of the original release Windows Server 2008,
but the technology was delayed and is now scheduled to be generally available
180 days, or about six months, after Windows Server 2008 ships. Hyper-V's released
was delayed earlier this year because Microsoft opted to pull out some originally
Hyper-V takes advantage of virtualization-optimized microprocessors from Intel
and Advanced Micro Devices and is meant to help Microsoft compete with virtualization
leader VMware, which already has hypervisor technology on the market. Hypervisors
allow for cross-platform support so servers can run multiple versions of different
OSes -- such as Windows and Linux -- side by side on one piece of hardware.
Bill Hilf, general manager of Windows Server at Microsoft, said customers have
been asking the company for a built-in virtualization technology that works
directly within the Windows Server environment so it's easy to manage and implement.
By design, Hyper-V is set up as what Microsoft calls a "role" within
Windows Server 2008, and can be turned on or off as a customer wishes, he said.
Roles are a new feature of the forthcoming release of the OS that allow servers
to be set up so only the role or roles a customer wants them to play in the
IT environment -- such as e-mail server or application server -- will be turned