Microsoft's Virtual Machine Manager R2 to be available by Dec. 21

Microsoft's virtualization team promises delivery 'within 60' of WS2008 R2 RTM

Yesterday, we asked Microsoft when Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 would ship. (We asked via Microsoft's experimental Twitter hashtag, #qs4ms.) Due to the power of Twitter, the virtualization team answered: "SCVMM 2008 r2 beta is available, and final will be released within 60 after Windows Server 2008 R2 rtm."

So let's do some deducing. We know that Windows Server 2008 R2 will be generally available on Oct. 22. We know that the previous version of Windows Server 2008 was released to manufacturing about thee weeks before it was generally available. (RTM on Feb. 4, GA on Feb. 27). Therefore, we know that the virtualization team is saying that its latest, greatest product will be generally available sometime around Nov. 30 and at the latest December 21 (which is 60 from the GA date of WS2008 R2). This presumes that the suitably vague "60" refers to "60" days and not 60 minutes or 60 months or 60 years.

Why might VMM be exciting for Windows Server users? If you have an eye on Hyper-V, then SCVMM 2008 R2 is the product that will finally bring the long awaited feature Live Migration -- for moving virtual machines between hosts with no downtime. It is this feature more than any other, that has defined Hyper-V as being a laggard behind VMware.

VMM also boasts new features such as hot removal of storage and support for clustered shared volumes (among other new storage management features), TCP CPU process offloading (a feature called "TCP Chimney"), support for Veritas Volume Manager, better integration with VMware Virtual Center.

Of course arch rival VMware has hardly been standing around while waiting for Microsoft to catch up on Live Migration. A recent analysis by the Burton Group said that enterprises feel that only VMware offers 100% of the features required to run enterprise-class, production workloads. Hyper-V offers 78% percent of the features, with Live Migration accounting for most of the missing the 22%, but also contributing is Hyper-V's notorious memory over-commit management.

Then again, VMware has, so far, defined the market. The features it has developed are the ones enterprises think they need, mostly for lack of experience with anything else. A hypervisor that ships as part of the server operating system and is integrated with the systems management tool of choice (for a Microsoft house, that could be the System Center family) could suddenly become part of the list of required features enterprise want. And this will likely happen if enterprises stick with Windows, moving their aging Windows Server 2003 boxes to WS2008.

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