I was checking out the news and was checking out the competition on Microsoft’s Virtualization Team Blog and ran into some interesting news.

Microsoft just announced that their Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft hyper-V Server 2008 R2 have been released to manufacturing.

I guess my ‘Microsoft-informant’ was right, Microsoft’s intention is to release Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V at the same time and not 3-6 months later as they did with version 1.0.

After the initial Hyper-V R1 release, Microsoft interviewed their customers to discover what they wanted in their new v2.0 product. These are the improvements and priorities which their customers want (according to Microsoft).

    • “Keep reducing costs”

      Server consolidation continues to be the driving force behind virtualization and the fundamental reason is to reduce costs. In this economy, customers need to maximize their investments. Green IT has been important the past few years, but we’ve seen an even greater focus in the last year. In addition, it doesn’t matter how small or how large your business is, everyone pays a power bill, it’s a constant cost, so anything we can do to reduce power use has an impact on everyone’s bottom line.

    • “Protect our investments”

      Today, the majority of servers ship with up to 16 logical processors. However, our customers watch the industry closely and point out that AMD and Intel are continuing to increase core counts quickly. In addition, Intel has reintroduced Symmetric Multi-Threading (SMT) with their Nehalem processors which doubles the thread count. As our customers plan their capital investments over the next 12-24 months, they want to make sure to invest in a virtualization platform today that will take advantage of the latest hardware capabilities tomorrow. Hyper-V R2 is that platform.

    • “Increase flexibility”
      Finally Microsoft provides customers with Live Migration, although they kept telling them they didn’t need it ;-).

Customers appreciate the flexibility that virtualization provides (deploy virtualized workloads in a fraction of the time versus physical) and wanted us to continue to improve in this area. To that end, the number #1 customer requested feature was Live Migration.

Done. Included. Live Migration Built-In

We weren’t done there. One thing that customers would always follow-up with is, “Do the processors have to be exactly the same? Can you ease that restriction a little?”

You got it.

    • “Virtualized desktops”

One area of interest that’s been percolating the last few years is the concept of Virtualized Desktops. At a high level, virtualized desktops is the concept of using a virtualization server to serve virtual machines running client operating systems like Windows XP or Vista. There are a few reasons customers are interested in this model such as to centralize management operations or to securely manage IP for remote developers. This model is very much like using Remote Desktop Services (formerly Terminal Services), except instead of Remote Desktop sessions, users are provisioned virtual machines.

From a Hyper-V standpoint, we’ve supported Windows XP and Vista as Hyper-V guests since the R1 release and with Hyper-V R2 we’ve added support for Windows 7 (x86 & x64 with up to 4 virtual processors per VM). However, Hyper-V support for client operating systems is only one piece of the puzzle. To improve this experience for our customers, the Remote Desktop Services team made significant enhancements in Windows Server 2008 R2 such as.

You can read more about the release, features and improvements on Microsoft’s Virtualization Team Blog.