Microsoft to offer its 'Drawbridge' virtualization technology on top of its Windows Azure cloud

Microsoft to offer its 'Drawbridge' virtualization technology on top of its Windows Azure cloud

Summary: Microsoft is planning to make its 'Drawbridge' virtualization/hosting technology available on its Windows Azure cloud.


It looks like it's full-steam-ahead for Microsoft Research's 'Drawbridge' library OS technology.


According to a job posting for a software development engineer in test on the Microsoft careers site (which Charon at unearthed this past weekend), Microsoft is working on "delivering v1 of a new virtualization technology for Windows Azure." That technology, according to the job post, is "Drawbridge," which is an operating system technology developed by some of the same individuals who created the "Singularity" microkernel.

The job posting describes Drawbridge as "an innovative new hosting model." Microsoft officials prevsiously have described Drawbridge as "a form of virtualization that seeks to replace the need for a virtual machine to run software across disparate platforms."

A 2011 white paper describing Azure explained that cloud hosting services like Amazon's EC2 and Windows Azure "might use the library OS design to substantially lower their per-sandbox costs." The authors noted that even though "VMMs (virtual machine managers) offer the benefits of a complete OS, and thus will likely always have their place in server consolidation, the library OS uses far fewer resources and thus offers lower costs, particularly for cloud applications with low CPU utilization."

Currently, Microsoft is offering Windows Azure customers "preview"/test versions of persistent virtual machines for Windows Azure which enable them to run Linux and/or Windows Server, along with their associated applications, on Windows Azure. Just last week, Microsoft announced VM Depot, a catalog of open-source virtual machine images for Windows Azure. Via this catalog, developers can build, deploy and share custom open-source stacks for Windows Azure.

There's no word in the aformentioned job post about when users can expect a preview/test of Drawbridge running on Windows Azure. I'd be surprised if anyone from the company mentions it on January 15 during a Cloud OS briefing for press and analysts. (Cloud OS is the term Microsoft is using to refer to Azure the Windows Server OS and, increasingly, other technologies including System Center and SQL Server.)

During tomorrow's Cloud OS briefing, Microsoft officials are on tap to "detail several new Microsoft management products and services, which deliver against Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision," according to the invitation I received. I'd assume that the recently released System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 will be a main topic of conversation. The Configuration Manager piece of System Center SP1 -- along with the fourth version of the Windows Intune management service (which is hosted on Windows Azure) -- is key to Microsoft's strategy for managing Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, ioS and Android devices.

The SP1 System Center Virtual Machine Manager component also includes new technologies of potential interest to those managing their own host, networking and storage systems.


Topics: Cloud, Android, iOS, Linux, Virtualization, Windows 8, Windows Phone, Windows Server


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Hyping Vaporware?

    Isn't it a bit early to say "to offer" when it will be years, if ever, before the technology is sold as a production quality product?
    • Timing

      Hi. The fact they are hiring someone to test Drawbridge on Azure, which the job description identifies as a planned V1 product means to me this already is well on the path toward commercialization. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • shut up u vaporface

    Ms owns the enterprise whether u like it or not, fanboy
    Master Wayne
  • Ways To Get Around OS Licensing Costs?

    Virtual machines are cheap to set up, provided you're running an open-source stack. Otherwise you get landed with all the per-copy fees, usage restrictions etc. It's hard to see how this "Library OS" concept can work around this fundamental problem, without being a conduit to software piracy.
    • Wine

      You can run Windows apps in Wine on Linux, kinda the same thing but running in Azure or other services.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • This will be huge for Desktops

    Using this new virtualization technology eliminates the desktop in Windows 8 Rt. The only reason it's there is as a host for office. Drawbridge provides a finer grain virtualized container, so it should be able to (someday) virtualize individual applications.

    Huge potential for upgrades and running legacy systems on a modern OS like Windows 8 ( or Windows 9).

    Now that will be cool.
    • Not exactly the only reason

      I have been using a Surface RT for over a year and there are other reasons for the desktop besides just hosting Office. 99% of the configuration GUI shells are still in the desktop such as disk management and other mmc's. File Explorer is 10X better then any Metro app equivalent.
      Rann Xeroxx
  • Consolidation

    Does this mean that eventually we will have a single Win8 OS, no RT or mobile?
  • Windows Azure VM's performance even with lowered hardware specs

    We have been observing that Windows Azure VM's have improved performance even with lower hardware specs. The original thinking was that the Virtualized Windows was probably reporting wrong hardware specifications but when we compared it actual hardware with the same specs we noticed that Microsoft's Hyper-V needed better hardware in order to run the same setup (SQL 2012/SQL 2012 R2, SharePoint 2013, Dynamics CRM 2013, Dynamics AX 2012 R2) that would result in similar performance. This lead us to conclude that Microsoft was probably not using Hyper-V for Virtualizing Azures VMs and I guess this article provides evidence for that!