Later rather than sooner, a key differentiator between VMware ESX Server and Microsoft Hyper-V will be a thing of the past. On Monday, Sept. 8, at the Hyper-V launch event in Bellevue, Wash., Microsoft gave the first public demonstration of Live Migration, which will be released in the next version of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V R2.
Live migration refers to the ability to move a virtual machine from one physical host to another without taking it down. VMware's equivalent, VMotion, is the foundational technology behind many of the company's high-availability and load-balancing products.
"There's no magic to VMotion," said Bob Muglia, Microsoft's senior vice president for the Server and Tools division. "It's just a feature, and we'll have that feature in the next release of Hyper-V and Windows Server 2008."
Judging from past Microsoft product launches, however, Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V R2 shouldn't be expected until 2009 at the earliest and, more likely, in 2010. Microsoft also announced Hyper-V Server 2008, a stripped-down version of Windows Server 2008 that features only the Hyper-V role and that will be available within 30 days at no cost. Previously, Hyper-V was priced at $28. The move puts Hyper-V on par price-wise with VMware ESXi, which VMware made free over the summer, down from $495.
Also, Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 will be generally available within 30 days.No live migration, no deal
For data center managers, the ability to move workloads without incurring downtime is a central feature of VMware's ESX platform. Hyper-V's lack of live migration may explain managers' reticence to bring Hyper-V in-house, despite its low price point compared with VMware as well as its integration with Windows Server 2008 and other Microsoft tools.
Case in point, in a recent SearchServerVirtualization.com 2008 Purchasing Intentions Survey of 603 data center professionals currently using virtualization, 57% had no plans for Hyper-V in 2008. Another 25% said they planned to evaluate it, another 13% planned to test it, and only 5% said they would deploy it.
At the same time, many virtualization providers have high hopes for Hyper-V. VKernel, a virtualization management vendor that has publicly dismissed the possibility of supporting any Xen variants, plans on adding support for Hyper-V in the coming months and expects demand for it to come on strong.
"We definitely see a huge uptake and momentum for Hyper-V, even among organizations that already have VMware" said Alex Bakman, VKernel's founder and CEO.
Judging by the number of partners that participated in Microsoft's Hyper-V launch event, Bakman is not alone in his estimation of Hyper-V. More than 40 partners flanked Microsoft at the event, with announcements coming from AMD, Compellent, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp, Sun Microsystems, Emulex, Dell, and SteelEye, to name but a few. All told, nearly 30 companies opted to take advantage of the launch to make announcements in support of the nascent platform.
The reason for their enthusiasm? "The No. 1 objection people have to VMware is cost," and Microsoft has created a "good enough" product whose cost is effectively zero, Bakman said. "Instead of buying VMware licenses for test and dev or remote offices, they'll get [Hyper-V's] good-enough functionality for free."