June 12, 2007 9:57 AM PDT

Will virtualization be Windows Server's silver bullet?

Virtualization will be the key to the popularity of Microsoft's long-awaited server operating system, Windows Server 2008, analysts have predicted.

The final version--formerly known as Longhorn Server--is due to be released early next year following a long and protracted development.

The first public beta version of Longhorn was recently made available, with 100,000 downloads made since the end of April. But analysts are predicting the virtualization application, Viridian, will be key.

According to Microsoft, Windows Server 2008 will initially include a beta version of its virtualization application, which will be updated when the full version becomes available within 180 days.

David Bradshaw, analyst at Ovum, emphasized the importance of virtualization. "Virtualization is the silver bullet. As with any silver bullet, you have to treat it with caution," he said.

He said this will be very valuable for chief information officers who are being put under increasing pressure to make better use of assets.

Bradshaw said leading-edge companies and those due for a server operating-system upgrade are more likely to go for Windows 2008. But, he added, much will depend on issues such as the extent to which users can mix and match server operating systems. "Companies will probably move very slowly," he said.

And Roy Illsley, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said: "I think it will become the default server operating system. It will over time become significant, but where it's going to be challenged is virtualization."

Illsley added: "Without it (virtualization) people are going to be looking at it and wondering 'what's the benefit?' Virtualization is the one that's key."

But the virtualization space is already getting crowded, and Illsley envisages a "bit of a battle" ahead.

He predicts a "fair proportion" of companies will buy Longhorn on its release but are more likely to use it for testing, with only 10 percent potentially taking it into production.

According to Illsley, companies may also be cautious about moving to the new operating system and are more likely to wait for the first service pack to become available.

But he said that Microsoft has a pretty strong base to work on with a significant presence in the server operating-system market.

As well as virtualization, Microsoft touts other innovations in Longhorn, such as improved control and security features.

Microsoft UK Windows server product manager Gareth Hall said that customer reaction suggests "there's a fairly serious interest in the product".

"Anecdotally, it's been pretty positive. People are pretty eager to get hold of this. We're encouraged and optimistic," Hall said.

Tim Ferguson of Silicon.com reported from London.

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5 comments

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What is virtualization?
This article would be much more meaningful if it explained what virtualization is and why it is a "silver bullet."
Posted by realbrick (2 comments )
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Google is your friend.
<eom>
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
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Server virtualization is running server(s) in software on one physical box
VMWare is big in this area. It is most commonly used in larger companies where they take a physical server - virtualize it and then run maybe 6 to 8 virtualized servers on one piece of hardware, thus dav. Also could be very useful in Disaster recovery where you could have a backup "virtual" server sitting on a DR server waiting to be started in case of a failure.

Then you could also use it for learning by loading up a copy of the latest Linux or Microsoft offering and trying it out on your XP box and smacking it around for a while.
Posted by stlwest (72 comments )
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better server management
Virtualization allows you to manage your servers more efficiently. I work for a company that has 500+ servers. I asked for a server to be reimaged 3 weeks ago and today I am still waiting because each dept has to set up their individual responsibilities (id virus protection, backup, managaement packs). WIth a virtual system, they would have been able to just recreate my image from a snapshot in less than a day.
Posted by melbflorida (1 comment )
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Fix 2003 first, then...
We should all think clearly on upgrading. Why not fix 2003 and get off the, "This one is going to work" mentallity. Isn't about time to make Microsoft liable for a product? Can someone please post the comments when Windows 2003 Server came out? Let us compare and see if what was said then, can be said now about 2003.

NOTE: Virtualization should not be a cop out to upgrade.
Posted by cretanion (1 comment )
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