Virtually Speaking: Mac vs. PC Battle Goes Virtual

by Amy Newman

Is the decades-old turf war moving to new territory?

You would think after two decades, the trench between Mac addicts and PC evangelists would have been crossed or perhaps filled in. Alas, despite the pervasiveness of Windows, the war wages on, with the Mac camp recently winning a victory of sorts when analysts advised not to discount Macs when making server room decisions.

It would be unrealistic to think that Mac-filled data centers will ever be the norm (though some may dream it). However, in this age of the heterogeneous server room, it would be foolish to assume a pure Land of Windows, or pure x86, for that matter.

It's also doubtful that Windows-based servers will lose their stronghold. Yes, Linux's presence continues to grow -- although largely at the expense of Unix. Windows 2008 Server is still a fairly unexplored entity, though that is changing fast.

So what does this have to do with virtualization? A lot. Virtualization is the next major battleground, and it would be foolish to think either Apple or Microsoft is asleep at the wheel or willing to let this opportunity pass by.

Microsoft, which saw the Internet slithering through its fingers and quickly grabbed its tail, responded much quicker to this technological development. From its purchase of Connectix in 2003 to its release of Virtual Server 2005 two years later, it sent a clear message that it would not be ignoring this space.

And then came Windows Server 2008, of which virtualization will be a standard component. Hyper-V is charging forth, and it's doing so ahead of schedule. Given Microsoft's predilection to run late on things, this alone is evidence of its commitment.

When Hyper-V goes gold, the game will change. As Paul Ghostine, vice president and general manager of Quest Software's Provision Networks division, told ServerWatch, "the 80 percent of organizations that have not deployed virtualization are waiting for Hyper-V."

Adoption of Hyper-V, Ghostine said, "will be very rapid and very broad." It helps that Microsoft has made Hyper-V a standard component a standard component of Windows Server 2008, so as operating system gains traction, so too will the hypervisor.

Provision Networks, now part of Quest Software, believes this strongly enough to partner deeply with Microsoft.

Now, Provision has agreed to integrate Virtual Access Suite with Hyper-V. This makes Provision's offering the first virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution to support Hyper-V with full integration for brokering, desktop lifecycle management and power management. The product will also support Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 when it becomes available for Hyper-V.

Provision may be the first VDI solution with which Hyper-V integrates. Hyper-V, however, is not the only virtualization platform to integrate with Virtual Access Suite. It already integrates with VMware and Virtual Iron.

HyperV, Ghostine noted, has a more advanced VDI than the other two.

Ghostine sees strong interest in multiplatform support. No doubt some of this interest is coming from the Mac side of town, which also got a boost in virtualization capabilities last week. On Thursday, Parallels made beta 4 of Parallels Server 3.0 on the Parallels Server Beta Site available for download. Among the key enhancements is Leopard Server virtualization support, which enables users to once again run Leopard Server in a virtual machine on an Xserve (or other Apple hardware) running Leopard Server. A full list of new features and bug fixes can be found in the Release Notes.

Although this is a late beta, the product remain ineligible for Parallels Technical Support.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.

This article was originally published on Tuesday May 6th 2008
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