Virtualization is in the air! Virtual Server R2 Announcements.

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In case you have not been reading your RSS feeds, or surfing the web recently, Microsoft made a BIG announcement at Linux World today. eWeek has a good interview with Jim Ni – a group product manager for the Windows Server Team that talks a bit more in depth then the press-pass stuff. 

In summary – the news is…… Virtual Server 2005 R2 is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD right now.  Yup – not a time bombed eval, not a trial or demo – we’re talking full outright top notch virtualization technology that you can download today.

We’ve also put out our beta Virtual Machine Additions for Linux, which will be released with the final cut of service pack 1 for VS2005 R2. With these additions, you get better mouse and video interaction for the guest OS, Host initiated/coordinated shutdown, time sync and host/guest heartbeat.  These additions can be found here for the following distros:

  • RedHat Enterprise Linux 2.1 (update 6)
  • RedHat Enterprise Linux 3.0 (update 6)
  • RedHat Enterprise Linux 4.0
  • SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.0
  • RedHat Linux 7.3
  • RedHat Linux 9.0
  • SuSE Linux 9.2
  • SuSE Linux 9.3
  • SuSE Linux 10

In case you missed the recent Build ‘06 tour where the fourth session was about Windows Server 2003 R2 – virtualization brings some interesting possibilities. If you purchase Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise edition – you are allowed to virtualize up to 4 guest machines without violating your license.  That means on a suitably equipped Host machine, you can legally install and run up to 4 instances of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise edition at no extra cost of license! Talk about server utilisation and resource management!

I have been using the 64 bit version of Virtual Server 2005 R2 installed on my 64 bit version of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise which is currently running on my new Dell demo hardware (Optiplex GX 620 dual core 64 bit box).  I will be posting an entry in the not too distant future talking about my experiences with the new hardware and new setup - stay tuned.

I love virtualization. I have been using it for a number of years including working in detail with some of the other virtualization solutions out there (you know who I am talking about). I have implemented both solutions for customers and clients when I was an enterprise consultant.  I can talk about both sides of the street when required.  While I was in Winnipeg for the Build ‘06 tour, I had a number of conversations with people around virtualization and what our product can do.  It surprised me to find out they didn’t know about a couple of things that I think are really cool (and extremely powerful) going forward.

  • Host clustering support. You are able to cluster your Host machines and provide all the power of clustering high availability and fail over to your virtualized environment.  I’m not talking scripts. I’m not talking about a controlled moving of guest OSs from one system to another.  This is the real thing with mature tried and true technology behind it.
  • We’ve opened the VHD format for licensing.  I believe we’re up to 40+ partners who have licensed the technology which will be opening the door to some awesome new capabilities going forward. Potential uses include: Moving files between guest and host easily, backup and recovery, anti-virus, image management, PATCHING, disk conversion and imaging… This is important going forward for a strong parter base, since we’re committed to keeping the format for the Longhorn server wave – where some real excitement starts.
  • Virtual Server 2005 R2 fits into our management story with Microsoft Operations Manager. You don’t need a dedicated monitoring solution that is unique and single purposed for monitoring and managing your virtualized environment. MOM with the Virtual Server Management Pack is a very powerful solution for managing and monitoring your virtual environment as part of a larger picture monitoring solution.  That and it doesn’t cost you for extra to monitor the guest nodes.  If you licensed the Host OS to be monitored by MOM, all your guests are covered for free under that same license!

I could go on and on about virtualization, but it is getting late. I wanted to make sure you had this info and were aware of the changes in the very dynamic space of virtualization. As I mentioned previously, stay tuned about an update on how my team uses virtualization to put on the Canadian TechNet events and engage with IT Pros and customers across Canada.

Got any comments to throw on the fire around Virtualization? Click on the comment link to sound off!

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