The first piece, the Hyper-V hypervisor, was released last June 26. A hypervisor is responsible for creating virtual machines (VMs), containers that hold operating systems and applications. The next step is to manage those VMs, and that's where VMM 2008 comes in. Management is the "hot" space right now in the virtualization industry.
VMM 2008 has a number of features that Microsoft hopes will distinguish it from chief rival and industry titan VMware's management product, called vCenter (formerly VirtualCenter). The two key features Redmond touts are its ability to manage physical as well as virtual machines, and the capacity to manage ESX, VMware's hypervisor.
Other features include the ability to convert existing physical machines into VMs, called P2V conversion, and "Intelligent Placement", in which VMM 2008 makes recommendations on which servers are good candidates for consolidation. VMM 2008, a subset of its System Center management framework, will also manage Virtual Server 2005, Microsoft's pre-Hyper-V hypervisor. VMM 2008 can be purchased separately from System Center, but is included as part of System Center.
VMM 2008 still trails vCenter by a significant margin technically, but beta testing of the product has been positive. The release of VMM 2008 demonstrates Microsoft's commitment to the virtualization space, which continues to grow at a rapid rate. VMware dominates the field in terms of overall penetration, but it has not had any real competition until this past year, when Microsoft jumped in with both feet, and Citrix leveraged its 2007 purchase of open source hypervisor developer XenSource to release a raft of new products, including XenServer and XenDesktop.
Other vendors have been crowding the field with their own hypervisors and virtualization solutions, including Virtual Iron, Novell, Red Hat and Oracle, along with hardware vendors like Sun, HP, IBM and Dell.
Microsoft kicked off its "Get Virtual Now" series of events, intended to raise awareness of the benefits of virtualization as well as its offerings in the space, last Sept. 8.
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