Server 2008 early adopters talk virtualization

Server 2008 early adopters talk virtualization

Mature virtualization market to get another option

The local launch of Windows Server 2008 in Sydney brought together a number of early adopter customers who are already looking at using the native virtualization capability, dubbed Hyper-V.

At the University of Canberra Windows Systems Team Leader Tom Townsend used Hyper-V to migrate Windows Server 2003 Active Directory services to 2008.

"We have a pair of domain controllers and decommissioned the 2003 box and we now have two physical servers for each of three domains," Townsend said.

"We got the hardware from IBM delivered at 12:30 and by 5pm we had Server 2008 and half a dozen virtual servers running."

Townsend said as "wonderful and mature" VMware is, it is "a little out of our price point" so the direction is to standardize on Windows Server virtualization technology.

The university was using VMWare's GSX Server but has about 24 virtual servers hosted by Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 in production.

"If you can use one interface that is better," he said. "The Hyper-V hypervisor will be a trivial amount of money on top of Server 2008 and if you buy the data centre edition you can have unlimited Windows guests."

Hyper-V is still in beta and is due for final release in six months, which, according to Townsend, is why it will not be used in production at the university yet.

Regarding Server 2008, Townsend is impressed by the speed in which it can be deployed.

"The RTM was three weeks ago and we finished on Monday," he said. "We couldn't have done this with 2003 as you don't have to manually configure firewalls on servers which is a huge time saver."

With about 200 servers in total, and about 20 percent already virtualized, Townsend will look at hosting Red Hat Linux and Solaris guests on Server 2008 when Hyper-V ships.

"We could virtualize Solaris and Linux, but not right away as it may take time for applications to be recompiled," he said, adding Fedora servers are already running on Virtual Server 2005.

At Sydney-based brewer Lion Nathan, CIO Darryl Warren said being an early adopter of Server 2008 has achieved cost reduction for remote applications.

"Our focus was Windows Terminal Services and we have VMWare and are looking forward to Hyper-V," Warren said.

While a decision to replace VMWare with Hyper-V is yet to be made, Warren said virtualization will continue to be used extensively in the development and QA environment which is a "huge advantage".

Lion-Nathan uses Terminal Services for internal applications and Citrix for external application serving.

Microsoft's corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing, Bob Kelly, said virtualization technology is now throughout the entire software stack.

Softgrid virtualizes the registry to allow two versions of the same application to coexist for "application virtualization", Hyper-V provides server virtualization, Virtual PC does desktop virtualization and Terminal Services is used for "presentation virtualization".

There is also profile virtualization for document redirection and offline files.

All the virtualization pieces can be managed with System Centre, and Kelly urged IT departments not to be complacent about managing the emerging virtual technology stack.

"Virtual machine sprawl only shifts the resource problem to a management problem," he said.

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