Microsoft's efforts in server virtualization have hit a bump in the road. The public beta of Viridian, Microsoft's server-virtualization software, will be shipping in the second half of 2007, not in the first half as previously indicated, the company announced Thursday.
The delay announcement was posted on the Windows Server Division blog by Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager for virtualization strategy.
That wasn't the only schedule change the blog announced. The final version of Virtual Server 2005 R2 Service Pack 1 will not be available until second quarter, rather than the previously announced first quarter. In the interim, the company said, customers can download, by the end of April, a Release Candidate version that is "code complete and an update to the current beta 2."
The Good News
The good news, Microsoft said, is that the final release of Viridian and of Longhorn, the company's upcoming server operating system, is still on schedule. Longhorn is scheduled for release to computer manufacturers by the end of 2007, with the final release of Viridian within 180 days of Longhorn.
Neil wrote that the reasons for the delay relate to performance and scalability.
"In an I.T. environment of ever-growing multicore processor systems," he wrote on the blog, "Windows Server virtualization is being designed to scale across a much broader range of systems than the competition. We're designing Windows Server virtualization to scale up to 64 processors, which I'm proud to say is something no other vendor's product supports."
"We are also providing," he continued, "a much more dynamic VM environment with hot-add of processors, memory, disk, and networking as well as a greater scalability with more SMP support and memory." VM stands for virtual machine and SMP for symmetric multiprocessing.
Microsoft is "tuning Windows Server virtualization to run demanding enterprise I.T. workloads," he wrote, "even I/O intensive workloads, so performance is very important and we still have some work to do here."
'Get It Right'
The delay is not surprising, said Mark Margevicius, a Research Director at technology research firm Gartner. "This is new territory for Microsoft. Virtualization is something you have to get right, and have to make sure it's rock solid."
He said that the market for virtualization software that leverages hardware is "just heating up." He added that all hardware now being sold is "virtualization-ready."
Virtualization software has become a big interest of I.T. departments. It allows one physical server to run multiple operating systems at the same time, by partitioning the machine into separate virtual machines. This can increase efficiency, utilization, and flexibility.
Virtualization is already integrated into Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server. VMware, the market leader in virtualization with 53 percent, has charged that Microsoft is trying to force its virtualization specifications and APIs on the industry.