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Sneak Peek at Microsoft’s Virtual Server

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Microsoft released its first Virtual Server 2004 beta this week, in the hopes that the product will convince customers to migrate to Windows Server 2003.

The Redmond, Wash., software concern created the product, which will allow customers to run several Unix and Linux operating systems at the same time on a single Intel x86 hardware server, after acquiring virtual computing assets from Connectix a year ago.

When finished, Microsoft intends customers to use the product to shift older business applications from Windows 2000 or NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2003 in an effort to consolidate and automate a centrally managed server farm. Users may run Linux and Unix and other operating systems with the software.

According to a Microsoft document, the application boasted 42,000 downloads and 15,000 registered users to poke and prod the new product, which went through a security review by Microsoft. Thirty joint developers participated in the beta.

The software also now includes support for SCSI , two-node clustering, improved control through an enhanced API and integration with products under Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), including Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) Windows management software and Active Directory.

Microsoft expects to release the Virtual Server 2004 to manufacturers in mid-2004.

Once relegated to the networked storage sector, virtualization software has become increasingly popular as more and more enterprises seek to simplify the infrastructure in their data centers by pooling or sharing resources from multiple machines and accessing them from a single GUI or console.

Storage systems vendor EMC entered the server
virtualization fray by acquiring
VMware, universally acknowledged as the largest virtualization provider for Intel-based computing systems. VERITAS software later bought. application virtualization player Ejasent.

In a recent interview, VMware Vice President of Marketing Mike Mullany said he did not anticipate Microsoft and VMware butting heads much because he said Microsoft appears uses virtualization at the application level while VMware concentrates on hardware-based virtualization.

“Microsoft is not interested in server virtualization as a core IT strategy,” Mullany told “Microsoft is using virtualization to address the problem of migrating from NT4 and Windows 2000 to Windows Server 2003 and Virtual Server will help them do that.”

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