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Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Product Overview
Published: May 14, 2004 | Updated : June 11, 2007

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, now available as a free download, is the 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 IT staff to rapidly configure and deploy new servers.

On This Page

Introduction
Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Scenarios
Product Version
What's New in This Release
Key Features and Benefits
The Drive to Self-Managing Dynamic Systems

Introduction

In conjunction with Windows Server 2003, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 provides a virtualization platform that runs most major x86 operating systems in a guest environment, and is supported by Microsoft as a host for Windows Server operating systems and Windows Server System applications. Virtual Server 2005 R2's comprehensive COM API, in combination with the Virtual Hard Drive (VHD) format and support for virtual networking, provide administrators complete scripted control of portable, connected virtual machines and enable easy automation of deployment, and ongoing change and configuration.

Additionally, its integration with a wide variety of existing Microsoft and third-party management tools allows administrators to seamlessly manage a Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 environment with their existing physical server management tools. A wide array of complementary product and service offerings are available from Microsoft and its partners to help businesses plan for, deploy, and manage Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 in their environment.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Scenarios

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 addresses four key customer scenarios:

  • Consolidate infrastructure, application, and branch office server workloads. Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 is ideal for server consolidation in both the datacenter and the branch office, allowing IT staff to make more efficient use of their hardware resources. It also allows IT staff to enhance their overall productivity and rapidly deploy new servers that enable the people in their organization to quickly address changing business needs.

  • Consolidate and re-host legacy applications. Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 enables re-hosting of legacy operating systems (Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000 Server) and their associated custom applications from older hardware to new hardware running Windows Server 2003.

  • Automate and consolidate software test and development environments. Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 enables IT and development staff to consolidate their test and development server farm and automate the provisioning of virtual machines.

  • Simplify disaster and recovery planning. Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 can be used as part of a disaster and recovery plan that requires application portability and flexibility across hardware platforms.

Product Version

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 is available in one version as a free download: Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Enterprise Edition. This edition can be installed on servers with up to 32 physical processors.

What's New in This Release

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 includes the following new capabilities:

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Enterprise Edition can be installed on servers with up to 32 physical processors.

  • Virtual Server host clustering. Support for host-to-host connectivity lets you cluster all virtual machines running on a host.

  • iSCSI support. iSCSI clustering enables guest-to-guest connectivity across physical machines.

  • x64 support. Virtual Server runs natively within a 64-bit Windows host operating system, providing increased performance and memory headroom.

  • Enhanced PXE booting. PXE boot support has been added to the virtual machine network adapter. This means that when the appropriate network infrastructure is in place, you can perform a network installation of a guest operating system in the same way as physical servers.

  • Other improvements. Virtual Server now includes improved hyperthreading, support for F6 Disk (SCSI driver), Active Directory integration using service connection points, and virtual disk pre-compactor functionality.

  • Performance improvements.

For more information about what's new in Virtual Server R2 SP1, please refer to the following table:

New Features in Virtual Server R2 SP1

Benefit

Description

Hardware-assisted virtualization

Supports both Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) and AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) hardware-assisted virtualization.

VHD Mount Command-line Tool and APIs

Provides the ability to mount a virtual hard disk file (.vhd file) as a virtual disk device on another operating system.

Support for Volume Shadow Copy Service

Allows back-up of Virtual Server and its running virtual machines without needing to install backup agents inside the guest operating system of the virtual machines.

Larger default size for dynamically expanding virtual hard disks

The default size for dynamically expanding virtual hard disks has been changed from 16 GB to 127 GB, making the VHD file format even more useful for enterprise production, test, and disaster-recovery workloads.

Support for greater than 64 virtual machines on x64-based hosts

Virtual Server can run more than 64 virtual machines on x64-based hosts. The 64 virtual machine limit remains when running on 32-bit hosts.

Host clustering step-by-step guide

Host clustering allows you to extend the high-availability benefits of clustering to non-cluster-aware applications and workloads.

Virtual SCSI fix for Linux guests

This fix resolves an issue some customers encountered when trying to install certain Linux distributions inside a virtual machine on the emulated SCSI bus.

VMRC ActiveX control and Internet Explorer Security Zones

The Virtual Machine Remote Control (VMRC) ActiveX control now uses the security zone information in Internet Explorer to determine whether to prompt you for your credentials when you load the control.

Service Publication using Active Directory Service Connection Points

Virtual Server service now publishes its binding information in Active Directory as a Service Connection Point (SCP) object.

Key Features and Benefits

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 benefits customers with the improved use of hardware resources, increased IT productivity, and more as the tables below describe.

Increased Utilization of Hardware Resources

Benefit

Description

Virtualization

Virtualization for operating system and application isolation on a fully tested and qualified Microsoft stack.

  • Broad x86 guest operating system compatibility: Runs most major x86 operating systems in the virtual machine guest environment.

  • Windows Server guest operating system performance optimization: Add-ins provide even greater CPU and IO performance for Windows Server guest operating systems and certain third-party x86 operating systems.

  • x64 host support: Natively runs within a 64-bit Windows host operating system, providing increased performance and memory headroom.

Availability

Flexible clustering scenarios provide high availability for mission critical environments while improving patching and hardware maintenance processes.

  • Guest to guest: iSCSI clustering for guests to guest across physical machines.

  • Host to host: Cluster all virtual machines running on a host.

Resource Management

Policy-based control for balanced workload management.

  • CPU resource allocation: Supports both weighting and constraint methods for fine-grained control.

  • Memory resource allocation: Supports memory resizing at virtual machine boot time.

Enhanced IT Productivity and Responsiveness

Benefit

Description

Rapid Deployment and Provisioning

Complete scripted control of portable, connected virtual machines enables automated configuration and deployment.

  • VHDs: Encapsulates virtual machines in portable Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs), enabling flexible configuration, versioning, and deployment.

  • Virtual networking: Enables flexible networking with guest-to-guest, guest-to-host, and guest-to-net connectivity.

  • Comprehensive COM API: Enables complete scripted control of virtual machine environments.

  • PXE Boot: Network boot allows for provisioning of virtual machines in the same way as physical servers.

Manage and Migrate

Use existing server management tools to administer virtual machines running on a familiar host operating system.

  • Virtual Server Web console: Enables authenticated administration and client remote access.

  • Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 Management Pack for Virtual Server: Provides extensible guest-host mapping for event and performance management.

  • Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 SP1: Reports virtual to physical machine relationships for inventory purposes.

  • Automated Deployment Services and Virtual Server Migration Toolkit: Provides command-line tools for converting from physical to virtual or virtual to virtual, easing migration to a virtual machine environment.

Cost-Effective and Reliable Solution from a Trusted Platform Vendor

Benefit

Description

Integrated Innovation

Comprehensive testing and support for Virtual Server in conjunction with Windows Server operating systems and Microsoft server applications.

  • Windows–qualified drivers: Virtual machines utilize the Windows host operating systems qualified device drivers, ensuring robust and stable device support and broad device compatibility.

  • Operating system support: Microsoft extensively tests Virtual Server in conjunction with Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server.

  • Windows Server System family support: The Windows Server System Common Engineering Criteria 2005 states, “To help customers improve the utilization of hardware resources, all server products will support Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. Each product must be capable of running from within a virtual instance.

  • Active Directory integration: Enables delegated administration and authenticated guest access.

Ecosystem Support

Independent software vendors (ISVs) and customers can integrate their offerings with Virtual Server for enhanced functionality and manageability.

  • Management interface: Comprehensive COM management interfaces are published and utilized by management tool vendors.

  • VHD: The Microsoft VHD file format is available under royalty-free license, enabling ISVs such as security and management vendors to natively interoperate with Virtual Server.

The Drive to Self-Managing Dynamic Systems

The Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) is a commitment from Microsoft and its partners to deliver self-managing dynamic systems to help IT teams capture and use knowledge to design more manageable systems and automate ongoing operations, resulting in reduced costs and more time to proactively focus on what is most important to the organization.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 plays an important role in this vision, helping people to simplify their IT operations, improve server hardware utilization and more flexibly provision their data center resources.

For more information, see the Dynamic Systems Initiative Web site.

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