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With availability of Windows Server08 RC0 and the CTP of Windows Server virtualization (aka, Viridian), we've seen our first review/comments on Viridian CTP. eWeek's Jason Brooks posted a review under the title "Hypervisor Showdown: Microsoft vs. VMware." Jason's summary is: Along with the Release Candidate 0 build of Windows 2008 that Microsoft recently released came the debut public appearance of Microsoft's Windows Hypervisor, once known by the code name Viridian. Based on eWEEK Labs' early tests of the RC0 code, Microsoft's VMware challenger appears to be off to a good start. Jason had to update the BIOS. For more setup guidelines, see Jeff's post or Robert's post. Jason installed a Linux guest VM (rPath Mediawiki appliance), and the install "panicked shortly after boot." As Ben points out, the CTP has limited guest support. I'm looking forward to seeing others' views/reviews of the CTP so that the beta is rockin'. Patrick
One of last week's more interesting booth conversations had nothing to do with one of the demos in the booth. It had to do with training and support. A gentleman from a pharmaceutical company was saying that he's looking forward to Windows Server 2008/Viridian and SCVMM because he'll be able to reduce his training budget for virtualization by nearly half. He told me that VMware's documentation and training courses are very expensive compared to Microsoft's and don't have the same level of detail offered by Microsoft. He went on to say that aside from training, he's dealing with ISVs that don't support their apps running inside VMs. He has turned to VMware, but their support ends at the VM. His line to me was "VM support right now is a series of asteriks and fine print on vendors' web sites." I thought that was a funny line. He went on to say that while Microsoft's technical support policy is well documented, but he hopes it broadens so Microsoft takes tier-1 support calls for Windows Server running on 3rd-party hypervisors. And he predicted that with Windows Server 2008/Viridian, his other software vendors will get on board with virtualization. I went on to share the good news that people are looking into ways we could offer broader tech support of Windows Server running on non-MS hypervisors. And I pointed out a few examples of expanded tech support: via the agreement with Novell (announced prior to last year's VMworld conference), we'll provide joint tech support for SLES 10 SP1 running on Windows Server 2008 Microsoft's Partner Advantage Support Agreement provides a software partner (such as SWsoft) with pre-arranged, tier-2 support assistance to solve the partner's customers' technical issues we offer support on the virtual machine add-ins for the 10 non-windows OSes that can run as guest OS on Virtual Server 2005 R2 It struck me that training and support are two hidden issues and costs of virtualization. But these opertational issues tend to be viewed by customers, in essence, as the cost of doing business. And neither item is sexy enough for a demo, let alone wall art (photo). But are training and support issues important enough, in the end, to actually tip a customer's decision to choose one vendor over another? I'm not sure. In my head I'm drawing a parallel between a closer in baseball, who enters the game late, isn't often the focus of conversation but is a must-have service in baseball, and (ideally) doesn't upset the situation by ending the game quickly and decisively. However, as we saw last week at the Giants game, the closer can be a major sore spot - in this case, giving up a 3-run homer in the last inning to lose the game. Perhaps the Giants' closer needed better training and support in AAA ball.
The show floor has been busy. Lots of people interested to kick the tires of Viridian and SCVMM. The funny thing is, after exhibiting at this show for 4 straight years, some people still say, "I'm surprised to see Microsoft here." To which I always say, "what OS and apps are you running in ESX?" That when there's the "ah-ha" moment. Along these lines I had a good conversation with a gentleman from the civilian side of the U.S. government. After completing the above-mentioned dialogue, he said that he didn't know too much about our new hypervisor but that he needed to because someone up the chain of command had IP and security concerns over ESX Server. He proceeded to tell me that all the new hardware they bought specifically to run ESX Server had one major problem - driver incompatibility. He was interested to hear about Viridian's microkernelized architecture, where drivers run within guests, supports the existing windows server driver model, doesn't include 3rd-party code and minimizes the trusted computing base. And thankfully I was able to tell him that he'd be able to download Windows Server 2008 RC0 soon in order to preview Viridian. This conversation was common - lots of folks still getting up to speed on what Viridian (and our management tools, SoftGrid, etc) can offer. That's one reason our booth traffic looked like this (photos from my T-Mobile Dash smartphone)
Lots of conversations in the booth today about securing VMs running on Windows Server 2008. And the conversation always revolves around best practices to secure your Windows Server. Good processes and practices in the physical world are also good in the virtual world. Example, WSUS and WU will update OS and apps running in VMs, just like they do when not in VMs. But unlike 1 app to 1 server deployments where you could pull the plug if all else fails, when you're running 10:1 VM ratios, pulling the plug is out of the question. Microsoft's Brandon Baker was recently interviewed on this topic and the article posted today in Dark Reading's web site. Given it a read and expect to see more content on TechNet on this topic. Patrick
VMworld 2007 kicked off with Diane Greene, Pat Gelsinger (Intel) and Hector Ruiz (AMD) speaking to what must have been 10,000 people in the Moscone Center. The crowd was larger than the hey-day of JavaOne. Greene announced some new items; Gelsinger dove into the benchmarks to show the virtues of Intel quad-core to provide better reliability, scale and energy efficiency; and Ruiz showed some interesting data around server reduction and the associated power reduction. Scott Lowe covered the keynote in more detail. It was a good opening session, and I’m looking forward to seeing John Chambers tomorrow. The booth activity has been non-stop. I'll post photos in a bit. With today’s news of a pending CTP of Viridian, the crowd seems interested to kick the tires. I had one customer from Sanofi-Aventis tell me how much they were paying in license and training fees for VMware to do server consolidation and basic management, and he was real happy to use SCVMM because his team could use existing skill sets and get moving faster. Viridian was an often discussed item at last night's Giants baseball game. And the other hot topic was about our future work with Citrix and XenSource. Thankfully we had a couple people attend the game from Citrix and XenSource. Today we announced a next step with Citrix, but not really too revealing for the future. A number of VMworld attendees asked me today about Citrix's acquisition of XenSource. I'm not so sure why people would ask about this before the deal even closes (likely month+ away) - we can't talk joint roadmap with them until the deal closes. But it makes for good banter in the booth and over adult beverages. Patrick
I'm off to San Francisco today to be part of the MS contingent attending VMworld 2007. It'll be interesting to see how this post-IPO VMworld conference stacks up to last year's show. One thing I know for certain, the keynotes should be better as the heads of AMD, Intel and Cisco speaking. I'll be counting to see how many times AMD's Ruiz and Intel's Gelsinger say "quad-core" during their talks - the over/under should be set at 20. I'd also expect to hear some news from VMware of how they might start spending their new found money. And I'm looking forward to hearing more about virtualization security. Along these lines, I know that Virtual Server 2005 was recently certified for an important security requirement for the US government (e.g., NSA, CIA, FBI, others). And VMware has been doing their own work with the feds. And if you're interested to learn about the security measures being built into Windows Server virtualization (aka, Viridian), check out Brandon Baker's presentation from this year's Black Hat security conference, titled, "Kick Ass Hypervisoring: Windows Server Virtualization." Speaking of Viridian, let's hope we get a CTP of Viridian this month. Another difference at this year's conference - at least from my perspective - is that three Microsoft employees are actually presenting sessions during the conference. Last year we got shut out, but what a difference a year makes. Mike Neil, who has blogged here before, is speaking on a panel titled "Best Practices for the Data Center of the Future (Panel)" on Wednesday. Eric Jewett, who I actually share an office with, will present a session titled, "How to License Microsoft’s Products for Your Virtualized Environment (Microsoft)" on Thursday. Good luck with that one, Eric ;-) Chad Jones gets the happy hour slot [5pm-6pm] on Thursday, presenting a session titled, "Microsoft SoftGrid Application Virtualization and Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop - Creating the Desktop Computing Utility Today (Microsoft)". Myself and others will be posting from the show here and the Windows Virtualization team blog. See you in SF. Patrick
You'll be interested to read Chris' post about the release of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007. This first version is for managing VMs and apps within Virtual Server 2005. The next version of SCVMM will manage VMs and apps running within Viridian/Windows Server 2008. But not only that, Chris' team is building the next version of SCVMM to also manage VMs running on ESX Server/VI3 and Xen. Here's part of what Chris wrote: Our next release is planned to coincide with the release of Windows Server Virtualization (codename Viridian) so that we can expose all the great features it provides. In addition to Viridian support – we are also adding some key customer driven features. We have heard loud and clear from customers and partners that we need to manage other virtualization environments in addition to Windows virtualization. They want a single management solution that manages all the different hypervisor technologies. So – in our next set of releases will be adding support for non-Windows virtualization environments – specifically VMWare and Xen. We listened to you!!! And when I say we will manage these environments I mean really manage them – covering all the key scenarios they offer. From a single console and a single command-line you will be able manage Virtual Server, Viridian, VMWare and Xen.