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3 min read

Tech support for all those different VMs

Arrived back to Redmond late yesterday from Reno where I was attending Supercomputing 2007 conference. I suspect SC07 will be best remembered for the power outage that hit the convention center and most of downtown Reno, and Ashlee’s stellar headline.

While I was in Reno, there were lots of colleagues in Barcelona making all kinds of announcements, from Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V to System Center, at Microsoft’s IT Forum. I’m told there were 50+ journalists at a panel session on virtualization, and from the looks of all the news this week, IT reporters either attended Oracle Openworld or IT Forum (except the aforementioned Ashlee Vance).

One Microsoft news item that went overlooked, despite the news of Oracle VM hypervisor, Sun xVM hypervisor, VMware Server 2.0 beta and Hyper-V (did I miss one?), was the Server Virtualization Validation Program. You can read a bit about it in this news release, read comments non-MS people here and Alessandro’s post.

So what is this program? Customers who have valid Windows Server licenses or support agreements can call for support to either Microsoft or the vendor that has provided them the validated server virtualization solution. Whichever company is contacted first will try to resolve the customer’s issue, and in the absence of a solution will, via TSAnet, pass on the information to the other company to help solve the problem.

For those of you who know WHQL [Windows Hardware Quality Lab], think of it as WHQL but for server virtualization software. The program will be open to any vendor who creates/sells/services server virtualization software can test and validate that Windows Server 2008/2003/2000 runs as expected as a guest OS. Along with this validation comes mutual technical support for the Windows Server OS running in the non-Microsoft VM. Given this week’s news by Sun and Oracle, this program just became a bit more important to customers.

In hindsight, perhaps most interesting quote is from Sun’s Marc Hamilton, VP of Solaris marketing:

“As a result of our participation in the Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program, customers and partners who wish to virtualize Windows instances under Sun’s xVM infrastructure will be able to do so with even greater levels of confidence. Sun will support Windows virtualization in our xVM server and allow Windows to do the same for Solaris. This will enable customers to run both Solaris 10 and Microsoft Windows Server operating systems on the same hardware and safely consolidate their applications. With Sun xVM Server, Windows guests will be able to leverage Sun technologies like Predictive Self-Healing and ZFS for the first time.”

And as Andrew Dugdell pointed out, this program will alter Microsoft’s official support policy for “Microsoft software running in non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software.” An example of tha change can be seen in the newly posted Knowledge Base article 944987, which reads:

Microsoft has established a joint support relationship for non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software with the following vendors:

  • Novell

The change for Novell customers is part of the technical collaboration agreement announced last November. I would expect to see other vendor names added to KB 944987 once they have validated software.

Following are some additional details on this program … I spent equal portions of time this week gambling and looking for details on this program.

  • The program will be available in June 2008. I’m told that’s when the timeframe of the next WHQL test suite.
  • The program is open to Itanium-based server virtualization software – since they’ll host Windows Server, too
  • Validated server virtualization solutions will be posted to a public website dedicated to the program.
  • As with everything at Microsoft, there will be an early adopter/beta program.
  • This program applies only to Windows Server OS – not MS applications. Of course, this may change prior to June 2008 because each product team sets their own support policies.
  • Yes, VMware was briefed (multiple times I’m told) on this program. Since they’ve harped on this point in the past, I’d assume their customers would want them to participate. I guess they chose not to provide a quote along with everybody else.