LOS ANGELES -- Microsoft's improved virtualization software is generating more user interest in Hyper-V as well as the Windows 7 operating system.
Hyper-V R2, the upcoming release of Microsoft's server virtualization hypervisor, will for the first time offer live migration, support for 64 logical processors and hot-add/remove capabilities for storage. And Windows 7 will utilize Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) technology so users can run incompatible applications on virtual Windows XP machines right on their desktops. Both products are available as release candidates now.Users embrace Hyper-V's Live Migration
Attendees at the Microsoft TechEd 2009 conference said new features will make it easier to manage their virtual infrastructures. One of the most anticipated capabilities in Hyper-V R2 is its Live Migration feature, which enables administrators to move a running virtual machine (VM) from one physical host to another without incurring downtime.
"That's a big plus," said Andy Ludden, a systems administrator at Olean General Hospital in Olean, N.Y.
Jeff Woolsey, the principal group manager for Windows Server Hyper-V, said Live Migration in Hyper-V is identical to its VMware counterpart, which is called VMotion. Hyper-V currently offers Quick Migration, which typically means about 20 seconds of downtime for Ludden.
That isn't a huge deal most times, but when there's a disaster, "it would be nice if they [migrated] without going down," Ludden said.
The current version of Hyper-V supports 16 logical processors. R2 was expected to support 32, but Microsoft said this week it will support 64 instead. A public-sector IT staffer from the East Coast said he was "very excited" about that news.
"You can have so many different apps running in a smaller environment, and that's tremendous," he said.
"Going up to as many [processors] as it will handle will always help," he said.Hot-add/remove fills management void
Another new feature in Hyper-V R2 is hot-add/remove, which allows users to reallocate storage to a VM as needed, using Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs), without having to stop a VM. VHD support will let users bundle the apps and data they need and use them wherever, said Lindsey Mundy, corporate vice president of IT at Tectura Corp., a Microsoft solutions provider based in Redwood City, Calif.
VHD support was high on the Hyper-V R2 wish list at Tectura and that of many of its customers, Mundy said.
Brian Hicks, a systems administrator at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said he and his team are considering Hyper-V to run the back end of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Cost, ease of management and green IT are their biggest concerns.
"By using thin clients instead of full PCs -- and from a server perspective being able to move away from big boxes -- cost savings is huge there," he said.Windows 7 piques interest
Hyper-V isn't the only product benefiting from new virtualization features offered by Microsoft. There was lots of buzz at TechEd about the MED-V technology in Windows 7. Mark Russinovich, a technical fellow at Microsoft, demonstrated the technology during Monday's keynote.
First, he tried unsuccessfully to open an incompatible application in Windows 7. Then he enabled MED-V, and the application opened in a window with a red border around it. The red border signaled the application was actually running on a VM that was running Windows XP (a compatible operating system for that program).
The technology also works on incompatible Web applications by opening earlier versions of Internet Explorer. Application incompatibility was a major problem with Windows Vista, and MED-V goes a long way toward addressing those concerns, Ludden said.
"I think it's awesome," he said. "I can definitely see us going to the Windows 7 operating system. We're mostly on XP now. That right there will let us use some apps that we couldn't go to Vista because of."
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