Microsoft has fallen upon tough times in the x86 server virtualization space. Following an announcement last month in which they delayed the beta for Windows Server virtualization (aka Viridian), a recent Windows Server team blog entry announced certain core features would not be a part of the initial production release. We believe a production-ready hypervisor is one of the biggest draws to the Longhorn Server platform, and stripping features coupled with a delay getting a product into testers’ hands is a setback in their effort to deliver a competitive alternative to VMware’s solutions. In particular, the removal of live-migration and hot-add resources in Viridian’s initial release make it less dynamic than VMware. Instead of live migration, Microsoft will recommend clustering, which is frequently used for high availability, but less so for non-critical applications. Furthermore, it isn’t clear when the dropped features will be available or if customers will have to wait until Microsoft ships R2 in 2009.

Going forward, Microsoft has two big challenges. First, it must deliver Windows Server virtualization as close as possible to the “0” in their stated 0-180 day window following Longhorn’s release. And second, Microsoft must convince customers that it understands the importance of server virtualization and has a product roadmap that will rival VMware’s.

By Chris Voce