Microsoft enters the server virtualization game with hypervisor

The server role version of Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor will be released more than a month earlier than first projected.

The battle for the loyalty of the garden variety IT shops that want to try server virtualization can now begin with this week's release of Microsoft's hypervisor, Hyper-V.

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Microsoft is expected to make available the long awaited Hyper-V tomorrow, just over a month before it was originally promised. The software is part of the Windows Server 2008 license though there are versions of Windows Server 2008 without Hyper-V. There is a standalone version of Hyper-V expected later this year that will sell for $28.

Hyper-V has been a release candidate since March. At that time, Microsoft said the list of tested and qualified guest operating systems include Windows Server 2003 SP2, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1, Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP SP3.

The software also supported 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise and Data Center.

IT shops interested in server virtualization have not waited for Hyper-V and many enterprises have already installed VMware Inc.'s ESX Server for their server consolidation projects. Still, Hyper-V was easily one of the most anticipated roles of Windows Server 2008.

One analyst familiar with Hyper-V said the technology has done well in beta. But because it is still a first-generation technology, it's still unclear how well it will perform overall. That's according to Mike Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm. "You just can't run a beta large enough," he said.

Cherry said it remains to be seen what the effects will be of running a first-generation product on Windows Server 2008, which is incredibly stable and reliable. "Windows Server 2008 is not first-generation, but it has been improved over time."

Cherry called the release of Hyper-V an important milestone, but there is much that enterprises need to see fall into place. He recommended that IT shops find white papers written by IT or others who are part of Microsoft's early adopter programs.

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