Posted by: kurtsh | May 24, 2006

NEWS: WinHEC part 3 – “Virtual Server R2 SP1”

Q: Will Virtual Server continue to exist after the arrival of Windows Server virtualization?  If so, what role would it have? 
A: Yes, Virtual Server will still be a supported product. Windows Server virtualization will run only on x64 systems which are IVT and AMD-V enabled. For customers who want to virtualize on 32 bit systems, Virtual Server is still a very attractive product.
 
Q: Why did you make Virtual Server free?  Was it a response to competition from VMware and Xen?
A: Resource management has always been part of the operating system, and over the years customers have been able to obtain this functionality as an integrated part of their operating system platform.  As Microsoft releases its Windows Server virtualization technology in the Windows Server “Longhorn” timeframe, customers will be receiving the benefits of virtualization as part of the Windows Server operating system.  Today’s price change makes it easier for customers to access and experience the benefits of virtualization technology.  Customers creating virtual machines with Virtual Server 2005 in the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) format will have an easy migration to the Windows Server virtualization.
 
Today Microsoft allows customers to run up to four virtual operating systems on one physical server [Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition] at no additional cost. Within two years virtualization will part of Windows Server “Longhorn” and customers will be able to run an unlimited number of virtual operating systems on one physical server [Windows Server “Longhorn” Datacenter Edition]. Given the market trends, customers should think twice before spending thousands of dollars for a virtualization product that may be free, and be part of a fully supported Microsoft solution in less than two years.
 
Q: Why didn’t you make Virtual Server a free product in the first place?
A: When we launched Virtual Server 2005 it was very early in the evolution of virtual machine technology.  Test/Dev, server consolidation, disaster recovery, application re-hosting provide customers running x86 servers with great value.  Certainly Virtual Server customers are still realizing benefits today.  Since then this nascent market has changed.  Customers have told us they want a smooth migration from today’s virtual machine technology to tomorrow’s virtualization technology within the OS (e.g., Windows Server virtualization), and we’re providing that smooth migration in the form of pricing, technology and licensing
 
Q: Please clarify your product support policy for Linux running on Virtual Server.
A: Our support has three components:
1.      A customer running a qualified Linux guest may get product support when calling normal support channels for Virtual Server 2005 R2;
2.      Microsoft will maintain a list of qualified Linux distributions that are considered “supported”; and
3.      Microsoft will release virtual machine add-ins for the Linux distributions that improve the customer experience when running Linux operating systems in Virtual Server 2005 R2.
 
Microsoft is committed to ensuring a good customer experience when running supported Linux operating systems in Virtual Server 2005 R2.  Therefore, we have set up a product support model for these configurations that is consistent with the way that customers get support for Virtual Server 2005.  Technical support calls will be provided through the traditional channels (Premier and Professional), and will be limited to interop issues and the virtual machine add-ins.  Customers who report issues will be routed to a dedicated team that is specially trained to troubleshoot issues related to Linux guests.
 
Q: Does adding Linux support in Virtual Server R2 this mean you’re making peace with Linux?
A: We added Linux support to Virtual Server recently based on customer feedback—we understand that our Enterprise customers have a critical need for interoperability in their datacenter environments, and we’re intent on doing a high-quality job of servicing that need.
 
Q: What was recently announced with regard to Virtual Server SP1?
A: We announced on April 28th, 2006 that Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 is available as a free public beta; see www.microsoft.com/virtualserver. General availability is expected in calendar Q1 2007. 
 
Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 adds support for hardware-assisted virtualization and improved backup services and compatibility.  SP1 will support the hardware virtualization capabilities developed by AMD and Intel. By supporting both AMD Virtualization and Intel Virtualization Technology, customers will be provided better interoperability, strengthened isolation to prevent corruption of one virtual machine from affecting others on the same system, and improved performance for non-Windows guest operating systems.
 
Other features of Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 include:
Volume Shadow Service, which provides customers with improved support for backup and disaster recovery. Instead of backing up each virtual machine individually, customers will be able to backup just physical machines that will in turn backup all the virtual machines on that physical host.
Active Directory integration and management
Included Host Clustering technical white paper and the VB script needed to enable this feature
 
We’ll have two betas of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. This process enables us to better manage the beta program and work with third-party backup vendors. Beta 2 is scheduled for Q4 of this year.
 
Q: What’s delivered in Beta 1 versus Beta 2 of Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1?
A: Beta 1 of Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 includes:
Intel Virtualization Technology compatibility
Host Clustering technical white paper and the VB script
 
Beta 2 includes the features of Beta 1 plus:
AMD Virtualization Technology compatibility
Active Directory integration and management features
Volume Shadow Service
 
Q: What does hardware-assisted virtualization provide for the customers?
A: Hardware-assisted virtualization provides Microsoft with a new execution mode in the processor dedicated to virtualization.  This additional hardware capability simplifies the virtual machine monitor, the lowest layer of Virtual Server to provide a more robust and secure solution.  By supporting both AMD Virtualization and Intel VT, customers will be provided better interoperability, strengthened isolation to prevent corruption of one virtual machine from affecting others on the same system, and improved performance for non-Windows guest operating systems.
 
Microsoft also is collaborating with Intel on the design and specification of Intel Virtualization for Directed I/O (Intel VT-d). Intel VT-d helps improve the reliability, flexibility and performance of I/O in a virtualized environment. The VT-d hardware foundation combined with future versions of the Windows Server virtualization will help provide customers with increased scalability and higher-performance I/O by enabling direct assignment of devices to virtual machines.
 
Similarly, Microsoft is working closely with AMD to help open the way for a new class of innovation, such as AMD’s I/O virtualization technology, making IT systems not only more cost-effective, but also more secure, manageable, and interoperable.
 
Q: I ran a Windows NT guest OS within Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack beta 1 on an AMD Virtualization-enabled server and it performed well.  But when I ran [any of the 9 supported Linux guest OSes] I didn’t see the performance or capabilities expected. Why is that?
A: We’ll have two betas of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. Beta 1, currently available, supports Intel VT and other features.  Beta 2, which is scheduled to be available in Q4, supports the features of Beta 1, as well as AMD Virtualization and other new features.
 
AMD Virtualization is scheduled to be available with the release of the AMD Opteron processor socket 1207 in Q3 2006. Availability of beta 2 of Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 is dependent on the availability of socket 1207, as well as necessary time for Microsoft internal testing.  We’ll update customers and partners if this schedule changes.
 
Q: Microsoft has mentioned the importance of security and management for virtualized environments. What are you developing and delivering in these areas?
A: We’re increasing our investments in the Microsoft System Center family of products to address resource optimization and virtual machine lifecycle management. Effective management of virtualized applications and resources is essential to customers. Microsoft already provides tools — such as Visual Studio 2005 Team System, Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 and Systems Management Server 2003 — to develop, deploy, monitor and update applications that work in both physical and virtual environments. In addition, Microsoft is investing in enhanced security measures, to appear in Windows Server “Longhorn,” that are designed to provide higher security as well as richer and more dynamic platform integrity and identity solutions. 
 

Categories

%d bloggers like this: