Longhorn Gets Virtual Expansion

On Monday, Microsoft took another step toward delivering server virtualization as a consolidation and migration strategy. It announced an acquisition and two new product updates. One acquisition and two new product updates are the latest additions to Microsoft's virtualization strategy.

The company  purchased Softricity, a privately held, Boston-based virtualization technology developer whose product works with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (formerly Server Management System, or SMS).

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The software vendor also unveiled virtualization technology that will be incorporated into Windows Longhorn Server, which is scheduled to ship in 2007, and a new virtual machine technology that works with System Center Configuration Manager.

Microsoft will begin testing its virtualization hypervisor software  by year end and plans to ship it within six months of the release of Longhorn Server.

The hypervisor is a thin layer of code that runs between the hardware and the operating system and is focused on resource management.  It installs only the components of Longhorn Server software absolutely necessary  to run Windows in a virtualization role. The benefits are better performance and scalability because of the thinness of the primary operating system, said  Jim Ni, group product manager for Windows Server.

Additional Longhorn features or other operating systems can also be installed.

The second piece is the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), codenamed "Carmine," which Microsoft expects to start beta testing within 90 days. SCVMM will be integrated into SMS and offer new features to the existing product.

"This is in response to customers telling us that they are not looking for another highly specialized management tool; they want to leverage the investment they've made and supplement them with new tools when necessarily," said Bill Shelton, group product manager for Windows Server.

SCVMM is focused on virtual server management. It looks at what is running on individual servers, from chipsets to middleware, and helps manage the consolidation of several servers into one.

It also helps manage existing virtual machines, so if one physical machine has to come down, it identifies which servers are running on it and helps move the workload or sends out notification of downtime.

The Softricity acquisition rounds out the Windows strategy by letting applications run on one version of Windows while being hosted on another. The most common method for executing an application on a different application was through Terminal Services, but some applications don't work well in this scenario.

Softricity creates a virtualized instance of that application in the data center and streams it down to the desktop in a sandbox environment, so the application can be used by a Vista desktop even if it's written for Windows 2000, said Ni.

Virtualization is expected to be a major topic of discussion at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference  taking place this week in Seattle.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

This article was originally published on May 23, 2006
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