The release of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V almost instantly catapulted Microsoft from an "also ran" to a central player in server virtualization. I had the chance to speak with Rene Alamo, a Partner Technology Specialist, on September 30, 2008 to discuss Hyper-V.
One-on-one with Rene Alamo
My first few questions were focused around the stunning success that Hyper-V is enjoying -- customers and the IT press really like it. Rene said it is because Hyper-V is "a serious option" in contrast to Virtual PC and Virtual Server. Hyper-V is simultaneously more robust and feature rich (particularly when combined with System Center Virtual Machine Manager) than Virtual PC or Virtual Server. Hyper-V supports both 32-bit and 64-bit architecture and has the features that Microsoft's customers said they needed.
On the topic of System Center VMM, Rene said the current beta of version 2008 (which supports Hyper-V) is of an extremely high level of quality, and that they expect System Center VMM to launch in Q4 of 2008. I also asked him why so many of the really useful features like P2V and VMware conversion were in System Center VMM and not the Hyper-V console. He told me that, like many of the latest Microsoft offerings, the GUI console is really a layer on top of PowerShell and that much of the functionality that it offers is currently available without it for people who want to use PowerShell. This is an interesting approach that I have seen in other products (e.g., Exchange), and I am curious to see whether it will impact product sales.
In terms of the initial release of Hyper-V, I asked Rene if they were nervous that Windows Server 2008 was shipping with a pre-final version of Hyper-V and that, when Hyper-V was finalized, System Center VMM 2008 was still not released. I added that this was the first time I could remember a Windows Server being released with pre-final bits in it at all. He said that this was "a topic of discussion but not a topic of concern." Considering the favorable response to Hyper-V, it seems as though Microsoft made the right decision.
Our last few questions focused on how people are using Hyper-V, application support, cost, and more. Rene said that a lot of applications (such as Private Branch eXchanges) will need to be tweaked or rewritten to work as well in a virtualized environment and that this issue is not specific to Hyper-V.
He also pointed out that -- while a lot of big companies are using iSCSI and SANs to provision storage for virtualized server rooms and that storage area network (SAN) and iSCSI prices are dropping -- organizations with tighter budgets or a need for a simplified topology are successfully using direct attached storage (DAS) and network attached storage (NAS) in their virtualized server rooms.
He made a good point in saying that, even with the cost of System Center VMM factored in, Hyper-V is still very inexpensive. It also has the advantages of being easy to use with a familiar Windows GUI and PowerShell. Unfortunately, he said that he has not heard of any plans to make Hyper-V available on the desktop.
Rene informed me that the next version of Hyper-V is slated for the first half of 2010 but that "a year goes by very quick."
Additional TechRepublic resources about Hyper-V
- Microsoft comes to the virtualization market late, should VMWare be concerned?
- Will you evaluate Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008?
- Managing your virtual machines with Hyper-V mmc
- Reduce cost and administration overhead with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
J.JaDisclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.
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Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.