Meet the Windows Hypervisor

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.07.2007 at 14:46

The Windows Hypervisor is one of the key design features of Microsoft’s enhanced virtualization platform. A hypervisor is a virtualization platform that allows multiple operating systems to run on them. The Windows hypervisor will run on the ‘bare-metal’ server hardware, and will ‘host’ multiple virtual machines over it. The supported server hardware for the hypervisor may be based on Intel VT or AMD-V.

Such a platform gives us the benefit of isolation, better security (smaller attack surface), better performance (no unnecessary services – Hypervisor runs on bare-metal). The Hypervisor manages only a minimum set of hardware on the physical host machine – processors, APICs, system counters and physical address space. The focus of the hypervisor will be on scheduling and isolation.

Windows Virtualization Services (WVS) will be launched not long after the Windows Server 2008 “Longhorn” release scheduled for later this year.

Windows Virtualization Services (WVS) will be an installable server role in the upcoming Windows Server 2008 (Longhorn) operating system. As of now, Microsoft plans to launch this functionality within 180 days of the release of Windows Server 2008.

Sitting on top of the hypervisor will be a parent partition or virtual machine that manages the rest of the physical host hardware such as IHV drivers, processor power management and hot-pluggable devices. This can run the Windows Server 2008 ‘Server Core’ with just the required functionality and low footprint/attack surface. The virtual machine guests talks to the Hypervisor via ‘hypercalls’.

Looks like VMWare ESX has got new competition!

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is a management tool that supports managing virtual machines that run on Virtual Server 2005 R2 and, eventually, WVS. I will be talking about SCVMM on 19th July 2007 at Doha.

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