In early March, Microsoft issued the first beta release of Virtual Server to select customers and partners, giving them a first peek at the company's recently acquired Connectix technology. The beta test, publicly announced late last week, adds machine-virtualization capabilities to Windows Server products, letting customers run multiple instances of different server OSs on one server. Virtual Server is a crucial tool for enterprises that want to move forward to Windows Server 2003 but need to run legacy server applications and consolidate server machines. Microsoft purchased much of Connectix's intellectual property specifically to provide this functionality, which the company says will convince many Windows NT 4.0 holdouts to upgrade.
"The preview release of Virtual Server has undergone rigorous testing over the past 60 days, and customers are already providing positive feedback at this early stage," a Microsoft representative said. "Virtual Server is helping customers migrate to next-generation operating system platforms (such as Windows NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2003), while preserving the investments they've made in current applications. Additionally, Virtual Server is designed to help customers consolidate server resources, thereby reducing hardware capital expenditures and operating costs."
Virtual Server has some competition; VMware has offered server versions of its virtual-machine environment for some time. The Microsoft representatives I've spoken with say that they considered VMware's technology but opted for Connectix because it was superior. Microsoft says it will ship Virtual Server by the end of 2003.