Future Uses for Virtualization and Virtualization News from the Windows Longhorn Roadshow

by David Davis on May 10, 2007

Today I attended the Windows IT Pro Longhorn Roadshow in Dallas, Texas. It was a good training conference on the upcoming replacement for the Windows Server 2003 operating system. Out of the three learning tracks offered, I chose to learn about the virtualization features in Longhorn.

I was pleased to see that the speaker for the Virtualization sessions was Alessandro Perilli, who runs the www.virtualization.info tell us about the Virtualization features in Windows Longhorn server.

He talked about the different types of Virtualization and defined them as:

  • Server Virtualization – like we do with VMware and Microsoft Virtual Server
  • Presentation or Session Virtualization – like we do with terminal services
  • Application Virtualization – something new that I will talk about in a minute

Server virtualization has become more and more common in production environments today with the use of Microsoft Virtual Server, VMware Server, VMware ESX, and Xen.

Presentation or Session virtualization is really just “terminal services” or “Citrix Server” renamed and
thought of differently.

What is a new concept is “application virtualization”. With application virtualization, the applications
can be abstracted from the OS. By doing this, you can have a “standalone application”, regardless of the operating system, registry, or other underlying applications that are normally required. What that means is that there is no installation for an application and you can “stream the application”. As soon as your computer is able to access part of the application, you can start using the application.

Compare this to listening to streaming music or streaming video over the Internet. This is based on ideas already in use with Softricity’s SoftGrid, a company & product bought by Microsoft.

Alessandro went on to talk about how there are four core applications for virtualization:

  • Production server consolidation – used to control server sprawl
  • Business continuity management and security – disaster recovery and firewall security
  • Test & development
  • In the future, the “Dynamic Data Center”

What is new in this list is the concept of the dynamic data center. The dynamic data center is a term
for a server/network infrastructure system where by:

  • You obtain maximum hardware utilization – no hardware resources are wasted
  • The infrastructure is flexible and efficient enough to completely support your company’s business
  • processes
  • The complexities today of provisioning and scaling servers, hardware, and applications are removed or reduced
  • Server & network infrastructure automatically adapts to the needs of the applications &
  • workload

Does that sound too good to be true? This sounds like something IBM has been preaching since 2001 called “Autonomic Computingg”.

This also sounds like what VMware is trying to create with their Virtual Infrastructure system (VI).
That system includes VMware ESX, VMotion, VM High Availability, and VMware’s DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler). With VI, you are getting close to the concept of the “dynamic data center”.

While VMware has a great thing going with their Virtual Infrastructure (and it is clearly the market
leader), Microsoft is going to be challenging them for the top spot in the virtualization market. With the release of Windows Longhorn Server, Microsoft will also release a major new virtualization solution. This will be called Windows Virtualization Server, codenamed Veridian.

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