Debut of Hyper-V, departure of Gates usher in new era for Microsoft

Given the importance of virtualization to the future of the operating system, it seems fitting that Hyper-V shipped on the the same day Bill Gates exited the Windows company. It is truly a new era for Microsoft.

Given the importance of virtualization to the future of the operating system, it seems fitting that Hyper-V shipped on the the same day Bill Gates exited the Windows company. It is truly a new era for Microsoft. 

Who could have envisioned five years ago that a Microsoft platform would openly support Linux?

No doubt, Microsoft's delivery of its much anticipated virtualization hypervisor has kicked off what is to be a truly intense battle in the virtualization software market. But more importantly, it represents the future of Microsoft -- interoperable with rival offerings, supportive of open source, and available on somewhat more flexible licensing terms.

The launch of the the Xen open source hypervisor, XenSource and Citrix's subsequent buy of XenSource notwithstanding, Microsoft's launch of Hyper-V marks what I would argue is the pivotal turning point for the virtualization software industry, and indeed for the respective futures of VMware and Microsoft, and the operating system as we know it.

I agree wholeheartedly with Dan Kusnetzky's take that Microsoft has a long way to go to catch up to the incumbents, notably VMware and XenSource. 

Another glitch: while Hyper-V code is available for partners to download today, and to all other users from Windows Update on July 8, the Redmond, Wash company has yet to ship the other half of the platform: System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

Still, that's coming soon. And by all accounts, Microsoft's hypervisor, which will interoperate with Citrix's Xen-based VMs,  is poised to  commoditize what is now a lucrative market for VMware, Virtual Iron and SWSoft. Given its tight pact with Microsoft, I'd expect Citrix's XenSource to pick up steam in the aftermath of Hyper-V's arrival.  

When Microsoft first announced plans for its own hypervisor two years ago, rivals snickered. Hyper-V may not be ESX but its no laughing stock.

"We hear good things about HyperV , [that it is]fast, stable with good driver support and cheap," said David Crosbie, an executive at Leostream, an ISV in Waltham, mass. "Now that they have faced reality and got rid of the junk from around the hypervisor, for example, the idea that this is a feature of Windows 2008. Whatever they say, this is a pure hypervisor – managed by [SCVMM]."

Microsoft claims it is eating its own dogfood -- and the taste is sweet. According to an operations manager who helps manage the massive Microsoft.com web site, Hyper-V has enabled Microsoft to consolidate from 80 physical servers down to 64 virtual machines running on 40 servers.  http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/archive/2008/06/25/microsoft-com-powered-by-hyper-v.aspx

Microsoft's future lies in the cloud and software-as-a-service vision. But gaining a foothold in the virtualization space, that is, respect at the base of the stack, is an essential ingredient to making that happen.  

Let the games begin.

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