Web Hosting Watch: Server Virtualization with Microsoft Hype

The world of server virtualization has heated up recently with the introduction of Microsoft's latest entry into the field which the company has named Hyper-V. The Microsoft product joins an existing lineup of products from VMware and Parallels among others which are revolutionizing the server landscape.

According to the Hyper-V hosting experts at HostMySite.com, the new product offers several advantages over existing server virtualization products.

So what exactly is a virtualized server (also referred to as a virtual private server or VPS)? According to Wikipedia: A virtual private server is a method of partitioning a physical server computer into multiple servers such that each has the appearance and capabilities of running on its own dedicated machine. Each virtual server can run its own full-fledged operating system, and each server can be independently rebooted. In brief, technology now permits server administrators to stack the virtual equivalent of many dedicated servers onto one physical server.

The advantages of this virtual server arrangement are many - first off, it is less expensive to create virtual servers than to physically build multiple dedicated servers. Additionally, I.T. departments can reduce the costs associated with running their infrastructure while maintaining the same level of performance, reliability, and security. In order to ease the burden of maintaining a complex server framework, many businesses are turning to virtualization. Another benefit of a virtual server is that each virtual environment can be loaded with its own independent operating system and software which will run separately and without being influenced by any other virtual servers running on the same physical server.

The tangible benefits to the end-user are a reduced cost to get into a server, and speed of deployment - as the hardware is independent of the operating system.

Hyper-V from Microsoft (which was previously codenamed 'Viridian') is a hypervisor based server technology which comes with the latest version of Microsoft Server 2008. According to Microsoft's documentation on Hyper-V, a core component of Hyper-V is the Windows hypervisor. This is a thin layer of software between the hardware and the operating system which permits multiple operating systems to run, unmodified, on a host computer at the same time. It also provides simple partitioning functionality and is responsible for maintaining strong isolation between partitions. This provides an inherently secure architecture with a minimal attack surface. In short, Hyper-V is Microsoft's virtualization platform bundle together with Windows Server 2008.

Matt Ferrari, a Microsoft Hero, and longtime Microsoft expert describes the product benefits this way, "By taking advantage of Hyper-V with Windows 2008, our clients have the ability to take all of their solutions, such as their production and development environments, and simultaneously run them together in a completely isolated hypervisor-based virtual environment. This technology has brought the reliability of a robust physical environment and combined it with the cost savings of a virtual environment. Additionally, Hyper-V gives tremendous flexibility and ease of management to developers and technology managers who need to deploy virtual environments quickly."

In addition to the standard benefits of virtualization, Microsoft also presents a list of product enhancements that Hyper-V users can expect:

Improved stability and usability:

Additional guest OS support

Improved performance

Quick migration. Enables movement of running virtual machines from one host to other host servers with minimal downtime.

Live Backups with VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Services)

Improved access control with AzMan (Authorization Manager)

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