Virtualization Looms Large for Windows Server 2008, Fedora Updates

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Nov 3, 2010

More on server virtualization

First, a mea culpa. Last week, we looked at NEC's addition of a fault-tolerant version of Hyper-V for its FT Express5800 line of servers. We noted that NEC and Marathon were the only OEMs to offer Hyper-V fault tolerance. This actually is not the case, as Stratus Technologies was quick to point out to us. In early October, Stratus announced support for Microsoft Hyper-V across its entire ftServer line of fault-tolerant platforms, making the Enterprise Edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 available on all servers, from the entry level ftServer 2600 system on up.

Virtualization and cloud were key components of two recent OS releases: Fedora Linux 14 and Windows Server 2008 SP1. Suddenly, the OS isn't such a dinosaur after all.

Fault tolerance for virtual environments is moving ever closer to being expected.

The hypervisor and OS may have been written off as commodity some time ago, but clearly they both have a key role to play. This was further evidenced this week with the release of Fedora 14 and Windows Server 2008 SP1 within days of each other.

On Tuesday, Red Hat's Fedora Project released Fedora 14, the second release of the open source distro this year. Codenamed "Laughlin," Fedora 14 adds new security, virtualization and developer features. It is also the first Fedora release for the Amazon EC2 cloud since the release of Fedora 8 several years ago, and cloud is pivotal. While Red Hat has numerous cloud initiatives, the cloud has not figured prominently for Fedora. Fedora's cloud stems from community members getting together and forming a Special Interest Group (SIG) to accomplish this.

Fedora 14 also introduces SPICE, or Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments, desktop virtualization technology. The SPICE technology came to Red Hat in 2008 as part of the Qumranet acquisition.

SPICE remains an unfinished product. In a way, this is a fitting counterbalance to Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), which includes management technologies for virtual desktops. RHEV is available as part of Red Hat's commercial products.

Microsoft meanwhile, released a joint service pack for Windows Server 2008 Release 2 and Windows 7 into the release candidate stage. While the Windows 7 part of it was somewhat uninspired, a pair of new features are designed to improve support for server virtualization.

First up is the addition of dynamic memory to Hyper-V that allows memory on a host machine running Hyper-V to be pooled and made available dynamically to guest machines running on the host. The impact is significant as Paul Rubens explained in yesterday's OS Roundup:

That means that as workloads on the guest machines change, more or less memory can be allocated to them as necessary, without any service interruption, so the available memory can be used more efficiently. (Without dynamic memory allocation you would need to reboot a virtual machine to change its memory allocation.) Of course, this assumes that the guest OS in question supports Hyper-V's dynamic memory function -- if not the machine is stuck with the memory allocation it has even if the host is running SP1. So far, the OSes that support dynamic memory are all Microsoft ones: Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Server 2003 and 2003 R2, and some premium versions of Vista and Windows 7.

It wasn't that long ago that many were proclaiming the death of the OS as close to imminent. As virtualization muscles its way in to become a key selling feature, this prediction is proving out to be both premature and incorrect.

Amy Newman is the senior managing editor of's server vertical. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in 2009.

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