Microsoft officials showed off on July 12 at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference a first public glimpse of its coming Windows Server 8 operating system.
Windows Server 8, the server complement of Windows 8 client, is on the same development track and path as Windows 8 client. If we Microsoft watchers are right, both Windows 8 client and server should be out in 2012, possibly in the first half of the year.
Microsoft is touting Windows Server 8 as a key private-cloud building block, which means virtualization will be critical to the next release. Microsoft demonstrated only one of what officials said would be several of more than 100 new features coming in the next version of Windows Server: The next version of its Hyper-V hypervisor.
Specifically, the Softies showed off what they are calling Hyper-V Replica. In a demonstration from Jeff Woolsey, the Principal Program Manager Lead for Windows Server Virtualization, noted that Microsoft has heard from its customers that it needed to provide more virtual processor support. He said the new Hyper-V will support more than 16 virtual processors per machine.
The coming Hyper-V Replica feature provides asynchronous virtual machine replication. All users will need is Hyper-V and a network connection. Users will be able to schedule replication to happen immediately or later. The new feature will allow users to do things such as replicate their mission-critical database to an offsite data vendor. Woolsey said that Microsoft will be vendor-agnostic with this and support multiple storage, datacenter and software/service providers. Microsoft also is going to allow Windows Server 8 users to replicate unlimitedly without charging additional fees per virtual machine.
Microsoft is also believed to be providing the next version of its Hyper-V hypervisor in the Windows 8 client, as well, though Microsoft has yet to announce this officially.
Microsoft is expected to share more about Windows Server 8 at its Build conference in mid-September.
The same day that Microsoft showed off Hyper-V Replica, its archrival VMware announced VSphere 5. One of the new features in vSphere 5, which is due out in the third quarter of 2011, is its ability to support virtual machines "that are up to four times more powerful than previous versions with up to 1 terabyte of memory and 32 virtual CPUs." VMware is touting the scalability and performance gains customers will get when they use these new VMs with the high-availability advances in the VMware platform.
In other private-cloud news, Microsoft officials said today at the partner conference that Hewlett Packard is still on-board with plans to deliver Windows Azure Appliances before the end of this year. Microsoft announced its "cloud in a box" Azure Appliances last summer, with officials saying the first of those products would be available to customers at the end of 2010. Fujitsu committed to delivering its first Windows Azure Appliances starting in August 2011. There's no word on when Dell, another of MIcrosoft's announced Azure Appliance partners, will start offering Azure Appliances to their customers.
Update (July 18): Microsoft has posted a video clip featuring the brief Windows Server 8 preview from the Partner Conference.
More from the Microsoft Partner Conference:
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Microsoft shows off early peek at Windows Server 8
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