vSpace Pro addresses the pain points of complex and costly hypervisor-based VDI with a much simpler yet still effective alternative that shares desktops on just one Windows OS.
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The best virtualisation platform for the desktop just got even better: if you're a software developer, trainer or support professional, look no further.
<p> The seventh generation of VMware's venerable desktop virtualisation platform, <a href="http://www.vmware.com/products/workstation/">VMware Workstation</a>, includes support for Windows 7 hosts and guests as one of its key features. However, that's not all it has to offer, as we discovered when we downloaded the new version and put it through its paces. </p>
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 can significantly reduce the cost and complexity of Windows Server virtualisation, although management tools are not included. This, together with deployment issues, could limit the appeal of Microsoft's standalone hypervisor beyond the enterprise market.
<p> The mid-term R2 refresh of Hyper-V Server 2008 sees Microsoft's free bare-metal hypervisor enhanced to match the capabilities of its full <a href="http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/software/os/0,1000001098,39671447,00.htm">Windows Server 2008 R2</a> implementation. In essence, that means greater scalability, plus the inclusion of VM migration tools left out of the original release — including live migration with minimal downtime. However, management tools remain an extra so, by itself, <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx">Hyper-V Server 2008 R2</a> shouldn't be considered a self-contained virtualisation solution. </p>
<p> <a href="http://www.parallels.com/">Parallels</a> (formerly SWsoft) has a 'bare-metal' server hypervisor in development, but this remains in <a href="http://www.parallels.com/products/server/wl/">beta testing</a> and is only properly available for the <a href="http://www.parallels.com/products/server/mac/">Apple Mac</a>. However, it does have a hypervisor alternative, in the form of <a href="http://www.parallels.com/products/virtuozzo/">Parallels Virtuozzo Containers</a> which takes a somewhat different approach to compared to VMware, Microsoft and Citrix products, yet delivers very similar results. </p>
Despite taking a completely different approach to virtualisation, Virtuozzo Containers can match the best hypervisors on performance while at the same time making virtual workloads quick and easy to deploy and manage.
<p> The open-source <a href="http://www.xen.org/">Xen</a> hypervisor has been around for a while now, mostly notably bundled with a variety of Linux distros, but has never had much impact. Even when the software was released as a commercial product and subsequently acquired by Citrix, it failed to win many hearts or minds. That could change with the launch of <a href="http://www.citrix.co.uk/English/ps2/products/product.asp?contentID=683148&ntref=hp_nav_UK">XenServer 5</a>, which addresses many of the shortcomings of previous versions, putting the Citrix hypervisor firmly in the production-quality ranks. </p>
Early releases of the Xen hypervisor showed promise but had lots of rough edges. Citrix's XenServer 5, however, is very much a production-class virtualisation solution with features that match, and in some cases exceed, what's available on rival platforms.
Microsoft's Hyper-V is the missing piece from the launch of Windows Server 2008. We examine its background, and predict how the hypervisor market is likely to develop.