Today Microsoft will release to the Web the final version of Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1. Available at no charge, this service pack adds support for hardware-assisted virtualization and improved backup services and compatibility. A new feature to the service pack is Volume Shadow Services, which provides customers with improved support for backup and disaster recovery. Instead of scheduling downtime for backing up each virtual machine individually, customers will now be able to take snapshot backups of physical machines, with no downtime, that will in turn take snapshots of all the virtual machines on that physical host.
"Taking advantage of features available in Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, Citrix will virtualize out-of-warranty servers running Solaris and standardize those virtual images on our main hardware platform. This process will ultimately lower our cost of ownership and the level of support from required from multiple vendors," said Dimitri Mundarain, datacenter services and IT operations manager of Citrix Systems, Inc.
Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 also supports host clustering, which offers customers minimal downtime depending on the speed of storage and amount of memory assigned to a virtual machine. Host clustering is storage agnostic, comes with Windows Server 2003 Enterprise or Datacenter editions, and is a high-availability solution for both planned and unplanned downtime. And with System Center Virtual Machine Manager, downloadable today as a beta 2 version, customers will have tools for high availability migration.
Microsoft has a long history working with hosting service providers. There are over 5,000 companies delivering hosted services to their customers using Microsoft products today. These services range from essential web hosting to high-end IT applications, such as hosted Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX. Many of our partners utilize Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 as part of their infrastructure or to create unique offers to their customers.
One of the customers using Virtual Server R2 is Rackforce. RackForce spends at least 22 percent less time on support in March 2007 than it did in late 2005 because of Virtual Server 2005 R2. Using Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, RackForce can easily mirror a customer’s hosting environment on a backup server, and then, if a physical server fails, restore the customer’s site on another server in minutes. RackForce can also use virtual servers as “hot standby” backups that can boot instantly and take over for a physical server that experiences an outage.
“The ability to do what looks like magic is so valuable in our business, where you need a reputation for great support,” said Keelan Lightfoot, senior systems technician at RackForce . “The number of testimonials that we get is enormous because of virtualization.”
RackForce also is evaluating System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which makes it easier to manage many physical and virtual servers, consolidate underused physical servers, and provision new virtual machines. System Center Virtual Machine Manager is now available in two free download formats – as installation executables or as a preconfigured and installed Virtual Hard Disk. There’s been more than 5,500 downloads of the product or VHD in the past 30 days.
Virtual Server 2005 R2 service pack 1 adds support for Novell SLES 10 and Solaris 10 as a guest operating system; bringing the total to 11 non-Windows operating systems supported on Virtual Server 2005 R2. In less than one year, there have been more than 15,000 downloads of the Linux add-ins for Virtual Server 2005 R2, indicating customer and partner interest to consolidate Linux workloads on Windows Server.
“Virtualizing IT equipment is one of the key recommendations PG&E makes to data center operators seeking solutions for capacity limits, or simply searching for cost savings and environmental benefits,” said Mark Bramfitt, principal program manager of PG&E's Customer Energy Efficiency program. “Customers who use any software solution that enables equipment consolidation, such as Microsoft's Windows Virtual Server 2005 R2, are eligible for PG&E's incentive program for this technology, and we look forward to working with users of Microsoft virtualization products.”
Over five years ago, we launched a subscription-based licensing program called the “Service Provider License Agreement” (SPLA), giving service providers a vehicle for licensing our products which maps directly to their business model. Under the SPLA, service providers license our products on a monthly basis with no term commitments; our partners license only what they actually use in any given month. The model has been extremely successful and Microsoft is only successful when our partners are successful.