Are Hyper-V and App-V the new Windows Servers?

Are Hyper-V and App-V the new Windows Servers?

Summary: Is it time for a major computing paradigm shift? A world in which we no longer think of servers and operating systems could be just around the corner.


Bear with me, if you will, for a moment while I put forth an interesting idea concerning Microsoft's future in the cloud computing business marketplace. I believe that traditional server operating systems (OSs) will go out of style long before desktop format computing will and there's a very good reason for that: We just don't need standalone servers anymore. Yes, I realize that's a pretty strong statement in any arena but, as I wrote above, bear with me while I discuss this salient point with you. I think that Microsoft will replace standard, standalone Windows Server with Hyper-V and App-V. And, you'll probably select which one you want to use during installation. Windows vServer 2015 or Windows Application Server 2015?

Click. Restart. Deploy.

Once your system is up and running, you can select through a series of Roles for your new Server, if you selected Windows Application Server 2015, such as Remote Desktop Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Communications Server, Media Server, Active Directory Server, Office Applications Server or Custom Applications Server. The Custom Applications Server would allow you to deploy applications that don't fall into one of the other categories.

The Server OS itself is an application. It's little more than (or hopefully a little less than) Server Core.

Of course, you could deploy either major server type onto physical hardware or into virtual machines.

What other types of servers do you need that you couldn't install via Roles?

I hope you didn't say File or Print. Those services move under application server configurations. Hopefully no one but small companies are still using Windows Servers as File/Print servers.

This scenario of having the choices of Hyper-V or Application Server doesn't currently exist, except in my mind. But, I think it could exist. And, I think Microsoft is smart enough to realize that traditional server deployments are getting a little long in the tooth. Today's businesses, especially those interested in cloud services, want agility. Agility means changing the way you do business. It means changing the way you think about servers, services and infrastructure.

You have to forget traditional terminology and traditional paradigms.

You have to learn a new vocabulary.

You'll deploy services and applications as workloads. You won't install applications onto desktop computers or desktop computing devices, you'll stream applications to them.

Microsoft could usher in a brave new world of computing with a new server paradigm. The stage is set for it. The shift has to be in how they construct the OS. It has to be trimmed down to a simple application container and that's it. The OS becomes a container onto which an application workload is deployed.

And, from my introspection, you'd only need those two choices: Hyper-V or Application Server. Because either you're building an application container or you're building an application container host system.

Whether Microsoft can or will make the transition to this new cloud-oriented computing model is anyone's guess but it certainly seems like they're pulling the hammer back on such technology. With the migration to Windows 8 and Windows Server 8 still looming in the not-so-distant future, it's anyone's guess as to what's next.

What do you think of my fictional scenario? Do you think this is a good direction for Microsoft or is it just my own personal fantasy? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Microsoft, Servers, Software, Windows


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • All that

    Can really be done with servers now anyway, the only thing that holds it back for a lot of companies...... Is Microsofts licensing models for Terminal services / Remote Apps.....

    Everyone has a desktop pc, the reason an app isnt streamed from a server rather than it being installed on a server is because it costs an extra ??50-80 per person for a CAL.
  • I do not get the gist of the article

    All of this functionality exists today. App-V and Med-V have been around for years. Are you alluding to more VDI functionality for these apps?
    Your Non Advocate
    • Yes

      Exactly. But, it doesn't have to just be VDI. It can be for any computing device, which I mention in the article.
  • HUh What?

    "Hopefully no one but small companies are still using Windows Servers as File/Print servers."
    nobody uses windows server for file and print?
    • Yeah

      uh . . .that comment makes no sense whatsoever . . . "no one but small companies" . . whatever . .
  • Apparently he's hasn't taken databases into consideration

    I suppose he thinks EVERYTHING can be run virtually. Doing it to a database is corporate suicide.

    Let me address the nay-sayers first: Yes it "is" possible to run databases on a virtual server. However, to have reasonable I/O from the disk, you'd have to isolate the database from the rest of the VMs hitting the disk. That mean Raw Data Mappings. Now that you have RDM, you can't dynamically move that VM to another host.

    So, boys and girls. What do you get when you create RDMs for a VM which no longer can be moved dynamically? A stand alone server!

    If you've got a tiny database, sure; virtualize it. If you have large transactional databases and management insists on virtualizing them, update your resume.
    • Actually,

      Microsoft has some great white papers on virtualization of SQL Server and Exchange both. I think DBs come down to what's needed. If your DB is read-heavy, why not virtualize it? If it's write-intensive, use SSDs or a physical system. It all depends on its purpose. You have to remember that there's never a correct answer for every situation.
      • Agreed...

        Plus with new SMB support in Server 8, you will be able to (theoretically) have your DB run on an SMB based storage with performance close to or equal to iSCSI and certainly a heck of a lot cheaper than FC!
    • databases?

      Thousands of organizations have high-availability databases in VM's, and no it does not require RDS or any direct link to storage or hardware. You need to come forward about 4 years on VM technology to the present, according to your statements. Maybe you don't know about all the new virtualized storage caching methods that are used for the high IO needs of some DB's. Maybe you also don't know that SQL and Oracle both have new methods of achieving redundancy and high availabiluty without relying on the old shared disk cluster methods.
    • Depends on the level of integration with arrays in the future...

      VMware is becoming more storage aware, with both VASA and the VAAI primitives and eager zero thick volumes linking to arrays that thin provision and zero detect. The problem with SCSI-3 reservation LUN level locking is now removed with those arrays using VAAI to only lock the block relating to a VM. That removes one problem with datastores shared by multiple VMs.

      The other is performance on a shared disk. I would argue that this is not a datastore level issue as most arrays will have multiple LUNs presented as datastores from a wide striped disk group so the sharing is at a wider level. Storage DRS makes a start in this area by having tiered levels of service from the disk that can map to what is provisioned from the array. The next logical step is to have a future feature such as Storage IO Control, setting QoS so that the most important and latency sensitive applications do not stutter from other VMs hogging disk queues. From the VM administrator point of view you just set the disk level importance of your VM and let the integration between the hypervisor and the storage do the rest. A natural evolution from where we are today.

      Wind the clock forward and all current server based application should be virtualised as the reasons for not doing so are removed year after year. And this document is just arguing that server roles and applications will then naturally become appliances which will only ease deployment, management and support.
      • Well said

        Well said...
  • It's already here, just not on Windows.

    Many aspects of what is described already exists, and we manage almost 20K VMs across our physical landscape using several "builds" purposely tailored for different tasks. The only thing is that it's all Linux and Xen, and we don't have to write that yearly multimillion dollar check to Microsoft anymore.

    Wow, the truth hurts, doesn't it?
    terry flores
  • Disagree

    </i>" I believe that traditional server operating systems (OSs) will go out of style long before desktop format computing will and theres a very good reason for that: We just dont need standalone servers anymore."</i>

    <b>I completely disagree...</b> my company currently uses video encoding cards in servers that are meant to stream and distribute internal corporate propaganda to employee's browsers. Where exactly do I plug a PCI-e adapter into a VM? This is one over-simplified example but I can give plenty more. What about applications that are not certified by their vendor to run in a VM (yes these do exist!)? What about large enterprise applications such as business intelligence and database that under-perform by a huge margin on VM? Or applications that use so much CPU and memory resources, that you can only get a 2 to 1, or 1 to 1 VM to host ratio (such that there is no point in virtualizing)?

    I could keep going, but I think you get the point.

    Sorry, but your premise is very naive.
    • Disagree with your Disagree :)

      VMware SE Response:

      HTML 5 Application Delivery

      This thread will give you an idea of what can work and what sort of capabilities you can expect. - Video cards aren't officially supported, but they can be made to work. If you do go this route it would best to do it with server class hardware as many of those having VMDirectPath issues are using desktop machines.

      High CPU/Memory Servers
      ESXi 5: 32 vCPUs, 1TB vRAM (Capped at 96GB for licensing)
      Most performance issues around virtualized applications come from storage I/O issues. Why virtualize & run 1 BIG VM on a host? You can vMotion to newer, faster hardware as soon as it's available. If you loose the host, it will be automatically restarted on another machine.
      Check these out...

      Just trying to help... :)
      • Disagree with your disagree to my disagree...

        @KrisATX: I won't give away my company's name, but they are the third largest software company in the world and their name has only three letters (think enterprise software).

        Believe me, I am well aware of VMware's product capabilities, and you don't have to sell me on the merits of virtualization. As much as I am pro-VM, I don't believe it fits every IT scenario and I have learned this first hand. Globally, we have more than 30k servers, about 60% of which are VMs running on VMware. We have one of the largest Lab Manager implementations of any VMware customer. We have VMware engineers that sit onsite right next to our own support teams.

        In our environment, we run our own large enterprise software and a new in memory database technology that can use as much as 2TB of RAM. These either don't run well, or don't run at all on VM - we've tried. Our storage solution is NFS to NAS over 10gig ethernet. Storage is not the bottle neck unless you get excessive swapping and the balloon drivers use up too much RAM.

        vMotion and even DRS are great technologies, and VMware is a very stable clustered solution - however... it is not flawless. Depending on your consolidation ratio, when you lose a single host you can potentially lose a lot of guest systems. In other words, the scope/scale of outages are much higher in a virtualized environment. When HA and vMotion fail (as rare as it may happen), you essentially have a single point of failure, and in our environment that can mean 60 guest servers go down hard. I'm not bashing VMware and you have valid points, but in my opinion virtualization is not a one-size-fits-all.

        The main point of my original mail, is to dispute the author's position that physical servers will go away. I don't believe this. But thanks for the interesting conversation anyway!
      • Lemme take a shot....

        "I won't give away my company's name, but they are the third largest software company in the world and their name has only three letters (think enterprise software)."

        So you're a deluded SCO employee?
  • Nothing new here

    For the last 20 years Microsoft has always talked about software services as servers. In the morning session the Softies tell you how you can run multiple servers on a single piece of hardware. In the afternoon the people in the trenches tell you how to figure out the right hardware mix for the various software servers you need to run.

    One of our customers recently converted from running SQL Server as part of Server 2008 to running it in a VM that has exclusive access to 2 cores and 4GB RAM. Performance went up a lot, an order of magnitude improvement on some functions.
  • here we go again...

    another starry eyed accolyte heard from

    What part of 'crashed server' don't you get? We've been down the two routes of isolated stand-alone, and this so-called 'cloud' which nothing more than thin client. I don't want to be left out in the weeds with a dead connection to any applications I want to run. On the other hand, the handhelds do not have the storage (currently) to hold all the apps and data. So... we do what we've always been successful at - MIXED MODE. duh. [one size does NOT fit all]
  • Not Likely... but anything's possible

    Your "dream" is all wet, and not in a good way. Streaming apps? I don't think so. The ISPs have begun charging for xtra bandwidth. The two major ISPs, AT&T and Verizon, have stopped offering unlimited bandwidth on plans to new subscribers. Can you just imagine what it will cost a typical business to stream spreadsheets and other stuff they normally access from a local desktop or server? This is the exact problem Apple is facing with its "New iPAD" (the iPAD 3) that supports 4G: users are now getting clobbered by the ISPs for streaming videos (!) to their New iPAD because of exceeding their Normal bandwidth allocation. The exact same thing will occur if we were to adapt a streaming application paradym. There's nothing wrong with the server concept be it physical or virtual and the OS isn't going away anytime soon. Give me a break!
    • Cheaper streaming

      If you want cheaper streaming apps server, you can always use ThinServer which runs on XP and Win7