Video: Longhorn - Windows Server Virtualization

With the wonderful world of Virtualisation hotting up, I wanted to take the chance to explain and clarify a few things around Windows Server Virtualisation, and what was previously shown back at WinHEC in 2006.

In the video, you'll see Jeff Woolsey, Senior Program Manager for Windows Server Virtualisation (WSV), demo a number of different areas of the technology, and in particular, Jeff highlights 8-core Virtual Machines, Hot-Adding of hardware and Live Migration of Virtual Machines, none of which will make it into the first release of WSV.

The key statement in that last paragraph is "none of which will make it into the first release of WSV".  Yes, that's right, they won't be there to begin with, but they will come.  We've had them working.  We've demo'd them live, and they will be back.  Just not yet.

With regards to Live Migration - even with 3rd-Party-Live-Migration-Tools, would you ever do a live migration of a Virtual SQL Server at 2pm in the afternoon?  What about an Exchange Server?  Do you trust it enough, even if that particular piece of 3rd party software was considered the optimum tool for the job?  Be honest, would you?  I think most of the people out there would rather wait until the end of the day's trading, and then perform the migration just to be on the safe side.  However, if you've waited until the end of the day, why does live migration suddenly become so important?  Would it really matter if a Virtual Machine was down for 10 seconds?  Does it have to be instant?  Many of the people we speak to suggest a little bit of downtime would be fine, and the luxury of live migration becomes just that.  A luxury.

So, if live migration has been postponed in WSV, what is in it's place?  Well, the informatively named 'Quick Migration'.  Just like a popular tin of Varnish, it does exactly what it say's on the tin.  It migrates VM's quickly.  Not live, not instantly, but quickly, and anyone who has watched Jeff Woolsey demo at TechEd, just recently in Orlando, at around the 45:25 minute mark, would have seen Jeff migrate a VM, in around about 6 seconds.  Admittedly, even 6 seconds would be too long at 2pm in the afternoon under a heavy workload, but after the day has finished, would 6 seconds be acceptable?  Most would say so.  Interestingly, you can also have this kind of functionality with Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, today, for free.

Aside from live migration, 8-core VM's has gone for now, but 4-core is still there - we think this is still relevant, and scalable for the majority of today's workloads.  8-core, and more, will come.

Everything else in that video is relevant, and still exists in the release that will ship within 180 days of the RTM of Server 2008.  I think you have to agree, even if you remove live migration, 8-core support and hot-adding of hardware, WSV and System Center still provide a fantastic platform to help optimise your infrastructure.