Hyper-V: What's all the fuss?

In the field of server virtualisation, the current focus of attention is the impending release of Hyper-V, Microsoft's long awaited hypervisor technology (due to ship six months after the launch of Windows Server 2008). But what exactly is a hypervisor? More importantly, why is Microsoft's implementation causing such a stir, and how will Hyper-V fit […]

In the field of server virtualisation, the current focus of attention is the impending release of Hyper-V, Microsoft's long awaited hypervisor technology (due to ship six months after the launch of Windows Server 2008). But what exactly is a hypervisor? More importantly, why is Microsoft's implementation causing such a stir, and how will Hyper-V fit into the increasingly competitive server virtualisation market?

Like original offerings from market pioneer VMware and others, Microsoft's current server virtualisation product, Virtual Server 2005, is a hosted solution, designed to run as an application on top of a standard operating system. In Microsoft's case that means Windows Server 2003, the Virtual Server software sharing out the server's processors, memory, disk, network and other I/O interfaces between multiple virtual machines (VMs) via the host OS.

A hypervisoror Hyper-V changes all that, removing the need for a host operating system. At least, there's no host OS in a format most of us would recognise; however, to save having to reinvent the wheel, most implementations borrow quite a bit from either Linux, Unix or Windows. That said, a hypervisor can still be installed directly onto a bare server, enabling it to communicate directly with the supporting hardware rather than via an intervening OS.

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Microsoft, Virtualization, Hyper-V, WS2008, Windows Server 2008, Win2K8