Windows Server Virtualization An Overview

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1 Microsoft Corporation Published: May 2006 Abstract Today s business climate is more challenging than ever and businesses are under constant pressure to lower costs while improving overall operational efficiency. In short, businesses are being asked to do more, for less. Virtual Machine technology is one of the most exciting and transformative technologies to change the cost of IT infrastructure since the arrival of enterprise ready X86 hardware. This paper provides an overview of the benefits of Microsoft s virtualization solution and the future of where virtualization technology and management capability are headed. With virtualization organizations can achieve significant operational efficiencies in their IT infrastructure through product integration and a comprehensive server consolidation plan. Microsoft has management, monitoring, and deployment tools which allow you to implement a comprehensive management architecture to control both physical servers and virtual machines. The current Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 and the upcoming Windows Server virtualization and System Center Virtual Machine Manager all represent key deliverables on the Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) roadmap which enables a selfmanaging dynamic system, and represents Microsoft s continued investment in delivering technology that improves the flexibility and utilization of server hardware resources.

2 The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication. This White Paper is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property. Unless otherwise noted, the example companies, organizations, products, domain names, addresses, logos, people, places, and events depicted herein are fictitious, and no association with any real company, organization, product, domain name, address, logo, person, place, or event is intended or should be inferred Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Active Directory, ActiveX,, Visual Basic, Windows, the Windows logo, Windows NT, Windows, and Windows Server System are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

3 Contents Introduction... 1 Virtualization Benefits... 2 Microsoft s Virtualization Roadmap... 4 Virtual Server 2005 R Usage Scenarios... 5 Key Features... 6 Windows Server Virtualization... 8 Usage Scenarios... 8 Key Features... 8 System Center Virtual Machine Manager Usage Scenarios Key Features Conclusion... 12

4 Introduction Virtualization is a key enabling technology that can be leveraged to achieve business benefits. Virtualization technology enables customers to run multiple operating systems concurrently on a single physical server, where each of the operating systems runs as a self-contained computer. Today there is more pressure than ever on IT with shrinking budgets, rapidly changing technologies and increasing security issues. As companies grow, their IT infrastructures grow along with them. But more often that not, the pace of that growth is uneven, driven as much by the conditions under which they operate as the model they aspire to. IT is being increasingly viewed as a key value generator for most organizations and the focus in shifting from merely keeping the business up and running to an engine to drive responsiveness and agility across the organization. Driving agility across IT, reducing costs and management complexity all need to happen in an integrated fashion. Microsoft s Dynamic System Initiative (DSI) leverages virtualization as a key pillar to address these business concerns and closely ties with adding intelligence into the applications and at the management layer to enable the vision for self-managing dynamic systems across the application lifecycle and across all roles within the organization. Virtualization as a technology has the capability to address some of these business concerns and needs to be part of the overall IT strategy. Today, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 hosted on the Windows Server 2003 operating system delivers the capabilities necessary to carry out time and cost saving tasks through virtualization technology in an enterprise-ready computing environment with advanced levels of scalability, manageability and availability. Microsoft s approach to integrate the management capabilities into existing System Center family of products enables customers to manage their physical and virtual infrastructures in an integrated manner and ease the adoption of the technology. Microsoft s virtualization strategy contrasts with current alternatives for virtual machine management, which tend to be complex, expensive and require specialized skills. We look at virtualization as key technology to help customers achieve self-managing dynamic systems. Across the platform, operating system, applications and management layers we re delivering functionality and capabilities that enable our customers to significantly reduce operating costs, drive up server utilization and achieve better ROI through full featured virtualization solutions. - Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President, Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. Windows Server virtualization, as a part of Windows Server Longhorn, take a big step forward in bringing some of the advanced capabilities of virtualization to bear and providing customers with a scalable, secure and highly available virtualization platform. As the platform technologies advance, it is important to ensure that overall management continues to be simplified. Microsoft System Center TM Virtual Machine Manager the management application for virtualized data center provides an unified, integrated management solution as a part of the System Center family and helps to drive management costs down as the IT environment becomes more agile. 1

5 Virtualization Benefits IT organizations today are under incredible pressure today to deliver more value to their business customers and typically with little or no increase in budgets. Optimizing the use of physical IT assets is becoming imperative as data centers reach their capacity for power and space. Microsoft recognizes that the problem intensifies for companies whose servers run at very low utilization. Server utilization rates of less than 5 percent are not uncommon, and many customers usage rates fall into the percent range. Many of these challenges, shared between server administrators and developers, can be addressed with the help of Microsoft s virtualization solutions. Machine virtualization technology is used to consolidate multiple physical machines onto a single physical machine. Virtualization can also be used to re-host legacy environments especially as older generation hardware becomes more difficult and costly to maintain. And because software is abstracted from the hardware, virtualization is a good solution for disaster recovery environments as well. As a key part of any server consolidation strategy, Microsoft s virtualization solutions increases hardware utilization and enables organizations to rapidly configure and deploy new servers with the following key benefits: Efficient use of hardware resources. Virtual machine isolation and resource management enable multiple workloads to coexist on fewer servers, allowing organizations to make more efficient use of their hardware resources. Windows Server virtualization, a part of Windows Server Longhorn and Virtual Server 2005 R2 with Windows Server 2003 provides the broadest interoperability with existing storage, network and security infrastructures. With advancements in server hardware with 64-bit technology, multi-processor and multi-core systems, virtualization provides an easy way to optimize hardware utilization. Enhanced administrative productivity and responsiveness. Windows Server virtualization enables IT organizations to enhance their administrative productivity and rapidly deploy new servers to address changing business needs. Easy integration into existing server management tools, such as System Center Operations Manager and sophisticated tools such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) facilitates management of Windows virtual machines. The ability to consolidate workloads in a hardware agnostic environment and an integrated physical and virtual IT management framework enables administrators to lower operational costs and create more agile datacenters Well-supported server virtualization solution. Virtual Server 2005 R2 is extensively tested and supported by Microsoft in conjunction with its server operating systems and applications. Hence Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a well-supported virtualization solution both within Microsoft and across the broader ISV community. With Windows Server virtualization being an integral component of Windows Server Longhorn and Virtual Machine Manager being part of the System Center family, you can be assured that the upcoming virtualization solutions from Microsoft will also be extensively tested and well-supported. The use of a common virtual hard disk (VHD) format ensures investment protection for all the virtual machines created for Virtual Server with a transparent migration path to Windows Server virtualization. 2

6 A key deliverable for Microsoft s Dynamic Systems Initiative. As a part of the Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), Microsoft s industry wide effort to dramatically simplify and automate how businesses design, deploy, and operate IT systems to enable self-managing dynamic systems, Microsoft is providing businesses with tools to help them more flexibly utilize their hardware resources. Virtual Server 2005 R2, Windows Server virtualization, and Virtual Machine Manager are key examples of how Microsoft is continuing to deliver technology those results in improved server hardware utilization and provides for more flexible provisioning of data center resources. 3

7 Microsoft s Virtualization Roadmap Microsoft s virtualization roadmap combines: A long-term vision for how customers can drastically reduce complexity of IT infrastructure as a part of the overall Dynamic Systems Initiative A solid product roadmap that offers valuable current and near-term solutions, enabling customers to take a series of practical steps in line with the long term vision. Microsoft is delivering application development tools, server applications, operating systems, and management solutions that provide immediate improvements to address the complexity in customers IT environment. As a part of the virtualization solutions, customers will see improvements in the current product offering for Virtual Server 2005 R2; new advanced products such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager that will address key management challenges and Windows Server virtualization as a part of Windows Server Longhorn, that will provide an improved virtualization platform with increased scalability, performance and reliability. With hardware capacity growing and more robust virtualization platform and management capabilities, more customers can benefit from consolidation, easier management and automation capabilities. Virtualization is a key technology for reducing the cost and complexity of IT management, and Microsoft has committed significant resources to making virtualization more broadly accessible and affordable for customers. The next few sections will focus on the key virtualization products,both at the platform and the management level, 4

8 Virtual Server 2005 R2 Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 is the most cost-effective server virtualization technology engineered for the Windows Server System platform. As a key part of any server consolidation strategy, Virtual Server increases hardware utilization and enables organizations to rapidly configure and deploy new servers. Usage Scenarios Virtual Server 2005 R2 offers improved hardware efficiency by providing a great solution for isolation and resource management, which enable multiple workloads to coexist on fewer servers. Virtual Server can be used to improve operational efficiency in consolidating infrastructure, applications, and branch office server workloads, consolidating and re-hosting legacy applications, automating and consolidating software test and development environments, and reducing disaster impact. Consolidate Infrastructure, Application, and Branch Office Server Workloads: Virtual Server enables workload consolidation for infrastructure services, branch office services, and for disaster recovery environments resulting in fewer physical systems for reduced hardware footprint. Virtual Server 2005 R2 is ideal for server consolidation in both the datacenter and the branch office, allowing organizations to make more efficient use of their hardware resources. It allows IT organizations to enhance their administrative productivity and rapidly deploy new servers to address changing business needs and increases the hardware utilization rates for an optimized IT infrastructure. Consolidate and automate your software test and development environment: Customers across all segments are looking for ways to decrease costs and accelerate application and infrastructure installations and upgrades, while delivering a comprehensive level of quality assurance. Virtual Server enables you to consolidate your test and development server farm and automate the provisioning of virtual machines, improving hardware utilization and operational flexibility. For developers, Virtual Server enables easy deployment and testing of a distributed server application using multiple virtual machines on one physical server. Re-host legacy applications: Virtual Server enables migration of legacy operating systems (Windows NT4.0 Server and Windows 2000 Server) and their associated custom applications from older hardware to new servers running Windows Server Virtual Server 2005 R2 delivers the best of both worlds: application compatibility with legacy environments, while taking advantage of the reliability, manageability and security features of Windows Server 2003 running on the latest hardware. Virtual Server 2005 R2 delivers this capability by enabling customers to run legacy applications in their native software environment in virtual machines, without rewriting application logic, reconfiguring networks or retraining end users. This gives customers time to refresh older infrastructure systems first, then either upgrade or rewrite out-of-service applications on a timetable that best fits their business needs. Virtual Server 2005 R2 enables better customer choice for legacy application migration with outstanding application compatibility. Disaster Recovery solutions: Virtual Server 2005 R2 can be used as part of a disaster recovery plan that requires application portability and flexibility across hardware platforms. Consolidating physical servers onto fewer 5

9 physical machines running virtual machines decreases the number of physical assets that must be available in a disaster recovery location. In the event of recovery, virtual machines can be hosted anywhere, on host machines other than those affected by a disaster, speeding up recovery times and maximizing organization flexibility. Key Features Virtualization facilitates broad device compatibility and complete support for Windows server environments. Virtual machine isolation: Virtual machine isolation ensures that if one virtual machine crashes or hangs, it cannot impact any other virtual machine or the host system. Maximum application compatibility is achieved through isolation. This allows customers to further leverage their existing storage, network and security infrastructures. Broad device compatibility: Virtual Server runs on Windows Server 2003 which supports most Windows Server Catalog devices, providing compatibility with a wide range of host system hardware. Multithreaded VMM: Virtual Server s Virtual Machine Monitor provides the software infrastructure to create, manage and interact with virtual machines on multi processor hardware. Broad x86 guest OS compatibility: Virtual Server can run all major x86 operating systems in the virtual machine guest environment. Microsoft will also support specific distributions of Linux running in the virtual machine environment. iscsi clustering: Flexible clustering scenarios provide high availability for Virtual Server 2005 R2: Administration Website mission-critical environments while improving patching and hardware maintenance processes. iscsi clustering between physical hosts of Virtual Server 2005 R2 offers a cost-effective means of increasing server availability. x64 support: Virtual Server 2005 R2 runs on the following 64-bit host operating systems: Windows Server 2003 Standard x64 Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition providing increased performance & memory headroom. Comprehensive COM API: Enables complete scripted control of virtual machine environments. Virtual Server supports a full-featured Component Object Model (COM) Application Programming Interface (API) that contains 42 interfaces and hundreds of calls, allowing scripts to control nearly every aspect of the product. Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs): Virtual Server encapsulates virtual machines in portable Virtual Hard Disks, enabling flexible configuration, versioning and deployment. 6

10 PXE Boot: The emulated network card in Virtual Server 2005 R2 now supports Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) boot. This network boot allows customers to provision their virtual machines in all of the same ways that they do their physical servers. Active Directory integration: Virtual machines in Virtual Server function the way you would expect a physical machine, offering full Active Directory integration. This level of integration enables delegated administration and secure, authenticated guest access. Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 Management Pack for Virtual Server: A management pack developed specifically for Virtual Server enables advanced management features within virtual machines. 7

11 Windows Server Virtualization Windows Server virtualization is a hypervisor-based technology that is a part of Windows Server Longhorn. Windows hypervisor is a thin layer of software running directly on the hardware which works in conjunction with an optimized instance of Windows Server Longhorn that allows multiple operating system instances to run on a physical server simultaneously. It leverages the powerful enhancements of processors provides customers with a scalable, reliable, secure and highly available virtualization platform. Usage Scenarios Windows Server virtualization is integrated as the virtualization role in Windows Server Longhorn and provides a more dynamic virtual environment for consolidating workloads. It provides a virtualization platform that enables improved operational efficiency for workload consolidation, business continuity management, automating and consolidating software test and development environments, and creating a dynamic datacenter. Production server consolidation: Organizations are looking at production servers in their datacenters and finding overall hardware utilization levels often between 5% and 15% of the capacity of the server. In addition, physical constraints like space and power are constraining them from expanding their datacenters. By consolidating several production servers with Windows Server virtualization, businesses can benefit from increased hardware utilization and reduced overall total cost of ownership. Business continuity management: IT administrators are always trying to find ways to reduce or eliminate downtime from their environment. Windows Server virtualization will provide capabilities for efficient disaster recovery to eliminate downtime. The robust and flexible virtualization environment created by Windows Server virtualization minimizes the impact of scheduled and unscheduled downtime. Software test and development: One of the biggest areas where virtualization technology will continue to be relevant is the software test and development area to create automated and consolidated environments that are agile enough to accommodate the constantly changing requirements. Windows Server virtualization helps minimize test hardware, improve lifecycle management and improves test coverage. Dynamic datacenter: The rich set of features of Windows Server virtualization combined with the new management capabilities extended by Virtual Machine Manager enables organizations to create a more agile infrastructure. Administrators will be able to dynamically add resources to virtual machines and move them across physical machines transparently without impacting users. Key Features There are several new features in Windows Server virtualization that help create a scalable, secure and highly available virtualization platform as a part of Windows Server Longhorn. The following are some of the key components and features of Windows Server virtualization. 8

12 Windows hypervisor: A very thin layer of software that leverages the Windows Server driver support and hardware assisted virtualization technology. The minimal code base with no third party code / drivers helps create a more secure and robust base for virtualization solutions. Dynamic resource management: Windows Server virtualization provides the capability to hot add resources such as CPU, memory, networks and storage to the virtual machines with no downtime. Combined with the hot add features of Windows Server Longhorn, this enables administrators to manage their hardware resources without impacting their SLA commitments.. 64-bit guest support: A key new feature of the Windows Server virtualization platform is the ability to support 64-bit guests. This enables organizations to be able to virtualize more applications that are memory intensive and benefit from the increased memory pool accessible in a 64-bit environment. Multi-processor guest Windows Server Virtualization: User Interface and multi-proc support support: Windows Server virtualization now provides the capability to allocate multiple CPU resources to a single virtual machine and enables virtualization of multi-threaded applications. This capability combined with the 64-bit guest support makes Windows Server virtualization a scalable platform for virtualization Live Migration of virtual machines: Windows Server virtualization will provide the ability to move a virtual machine from one physical machine to another with minimal downtime. This capability combined with host clustering of physical machines provides high availability and flexibility to achieve an agile and dynamic datacenter. New device virtualization architecture Windows Server virtualization provides a new virtualized I/O architecture. This provides customers with the highest possible performance with the lowest possible overhead. Offline VHD manipulation: Windows Server virtualization provides the administrators the ability to securely access files within a virtual hard disk without having to instantiate a virtual machine. This provides the administrators granular access to VHDs and be able to perform some management tasks offline. 9

13 System Center Virtual Machine Manager As a part of the System Center family of management products, Virtual Machine Manager facilitates management of Windows virtual machines. Virtual Machine Manager enables increased physical server utilization by allowing for simple and fast consolidation on virtual infrastructure with integrated consolidation candidate identification, fast P2V and intelligent workload placement based on performance knowledge and user defined business policies. Virtual Machine Manager enables rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by the administrator and end users using a self-service provisioning tool. Virtual Machine Manager is a tightly integrated member of the System Center product family of management products. Usage Scenarios Virtual Machine Manager delivers simple and complete support for consolidating physical hardware on virtual infrastructure and optimizing utilization. It also provides rapid provisioning of virtual machines from physical machines, templates in the image library or by end users Production server consolidation: As organizations look to consolidate their production servers, Virtual Machine Manager provides a way to transfer the knowledge about the system and the environment through the virtualization process and help maintain knowledge continuity. By consolidating several production servers with Virtual Server 2005 R2 or Windows Server virtualization, businesses reduce overall total cost of ownership and still maintain an unified management framework across their physical and virtual environments. Increasing operational agility: Businesses across segments are looking for ways to drive efficiency through their IT environments and increase operational agility. Virtual Machine Manager provides a mechanism to enable functionality such as rapid server provisioning, rapid recovery, and scalable migration capability to make the overall virtual infrastructure robust and easy to manage. Integrated management: Virtual Machine Manager helps create a centralized virtual machine management infrastructure across multiple Virtual Server 2005 R2 host systems and Windows Server virtualization hosts. Organizations are adopting virtualization across production and test and development areas and as management capabilities get more sophisticated, it helps administrators deploy and manage virtual and physical environments in an integrated approach. Key Features System Center Virtual Machine Manager focuses on unique requirements of virtual machines and is designed to enable increased physical server utilization, centralized management of virtual machine infrastructure and rapid provisioning of new virtual machines. The following is some of the key features in Virtual Machine Manager. Consolidation candidate identification: The first step in migrating from a physical data center with a one-workload per server model is to identify the appropriate physical workloads for consolidation onto virtual hardware. The decision factors for determining the appropriate candidates are based on several factors such as historical performance, peak load 10

14 characteristics, access patterns, etc. Virtual Machine Manager leverages the existing historical performance data in the System Center Operations Manager database to list the consolidation candidates in rank order. Intelligent Placement: The act of assigning and activating a given virtual workload onto a physical virtual host server is referred as placement. Placement is at the crux of maximizing the utilization of physical assets. Virtual Machine Manager brings a deep and holistic approach to placement and combines the knowledge from historical performance data of the virtual workload and the intelligence about the virtual host system. Business rules and associated models are also leveraged by Virtual Machine Manager to determine the placement options. Virtual Machine Manager: Centralized management view Host Provisioning: Virtual Machine Manager will identify the physical virtual hosts in the enterprise through integrated discovery with Active Directory. This helps organizations to easily scale the management of virtual machines and hosts across the datacenter and branch offices. Central Library: Virtual Machine Manager provides a central repository for all the building blocks for a virtual machine such as VHDs, offline virtual machines, templates, and even ISO images. Each item in the library has models or rich meta data that enable more controlled management of the objects. Template is a new object that enables an administrator to create approved virtual machine configurations that serve as a gold standard for subsequent virtual machine deployments. Self-service provisioning: Virtual infrastructure is commonly used in test and development environments where there is consistent provisioning and teardown of virtual machines for testing purposes. With Virtual Machine Manager, administrators can selectively extend selfprovisioning capabilities to user groups and be able to define quotas. The automated provisioning tool will manage the virtual machines through their lifecycles including teardowns. 11

15 Conclusion As virtualization moves into the mainstream and virtual machines get deployed in larger numbers, Microsoft s focus will be on helping our customers create dynamic infrastructures. Virtual Machine technology is one of the most exciting and transformative technologies to change the cost of IT infrastructure since the arrival of enterprise ready X86 hardware. Microsoft s virtualization strategy is to create a robust set of virtualization solutions at every level. With Virtual Server 2005 R2 today and the upcoming Windows Server virtualization and System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Microsoft provides an integrated, comprehensive and cost-effective virtualization solution for customers. Customers who adopt the VHD format can look forward to a smooth transition to Windows Server virtualization from Virtual Server 2005 and continue to manage through the System Center family of products. Furthermore, virtualization is a key deliverable on Microsoft s Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) roadmap, in line with Microsoft s continued investment in delivering technology that help IT organizations manage complexity and achieve agility. 12

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