The launch of Windows Server 2008 shows the operating system's native virtualisation capability, dubbed Hyper-V, is likely to be a big driver of adoption.
At NZX-listed brewer Lion Nathan, Sydney-based CIO Darryl Warren says 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 says. While a decision to replace VMWare with Hyper-V is yet to be made, Warren says virtualisation 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. At the University of Canberra Windows Systems Team Leader Tom Townsend uses 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 says. "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 says as "wonderful and mature" VMware is, it is "a little out of our price point" so the direction is to standardise on Windows Server virtualisation 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 says. "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 says. "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 virtualised, Townsend will look at hosting Red Hat Linux and Solaris guests on Server 2008 when Hyper-V ships. "We could virtualise Solaris and Linux, but not right away as it may take time for applications to be recompiled," he says, adding Fedora servers are already running on Virtual Server 2005. Microsoft's corporate vice president of infrastructure server marketing, Bob Kelly, says virtualisation technology is now throughout the entire software stack. Softgrid virtualises the registry to allow two versions of the same application to coexist for "application virtualisation", Hyper-V provides server virtualisation, Virtual PC does desktop virtualisation and Terminal Services is used for "presentation virtualisation". There is also profile virtualisation for document redirection and offline files. All the virtualisation 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 says.