Steve Ballmer's remarks on virtualization at MMS 2005

In his keynote address this morning at Microsoft Management Summit 2005, Steve Ballmer talked about Microsoft's virtualization strategy. The following is excerpted from the transcript of this address. To read the complete transcript, go to:

Increased Virtualization Capabilities

Virtualization, I think, is an area of intense interest and activity throughout our industry these days, certainly at Microsoft. All operating systems have essentially been in the business to some degree in some way, shape and form a virtualization for all time. That's how operating systems grew up, Windows grew up virtualizing the screen, the printers, et cetera, so virtualization in a sense is not a new concept.

But this notion of taking virtualization in the PC world, in the PC server world and really taking it to the next level, driving virtualization as a key technology to facilitate better compatibility, lower total cost of ownership and with the appropriate management tools really helping you operate a simple environment, that's an area of intense focus, passion and interest certainly at Microsoft and I think a number of places in our industry these days.

Again in this area if I don't get anything else across, I really want you to understand that this is an area where you should expect to see a large amount of very exciting and interesting innovation that should help you improve quality and cost of operation going forward.

We bought a company called Connectix a little over a year ago. That was part of us beefing up the arsenal of technologies that we had to apply to making virtualization a key part of our quality and cost proposition to you and we're going to show you some of the product shipments and deliverables that are coming out of that acquisition during the course of my talk here today.

I want to start though with a little longer term perspective, the "Longhorn" timeframe, and I'm not saying "Longhorn" but about that timeframe there's a number of things that we're working on that are very important in virtualization. We're going to take the virtualization format, the .vhd format, which we're working today to get standardized across industry participants, we're going to take that format and make it extensible, which we think is very important for all of you and for us in terms of where virtualization technologies can go in the future, open and extensible approach to virtualization we think is very important.

You'll see us introduce hypervisor technologies around Windows. That is important. We have virtualization technologies today but really this notion of a smaller, thinner hypervisor and what that can mean I think is very important. We're building on some of the work that we started on with NGSCB just in the security context and are broadening it out to really a very rich set of hypervisor technologies.

You'll see us support key hardware technologies for virtualizations from Intel and from AMD and in System Center we will bring the capability to help you manage a set of virtual machines to make it easier to run virtual technologies as a way of improving datacenter consolidation, running multiple applications on a set of virtual machines, on a given server, et cetera.

So underlying core infrastructure, operating system infrastructure technology enhancements and management tool enhancements delivered in a very open and extensible way; that's the target for our technology ambition in virtualization in the "Longhorn" timeframe.

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005

Today we have available Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. We'll deliver SP 1 later in the year. It is in beta today. We have a Management Pack available for Virtual Server for MOM today. When we release Virtual Server SP 1 you'll see a number of improvements. We've added support for non-Windows virtual machines being hosted on top of our Virtual Server product, including support for Linux. Remember what I said earlier about interoperability? We're really believing that. We know folks are going to want to run Windows systems and Linux systems and other systems together on top of our Virtual Server and Windows. You'll see support for that later in the year.

We're dramatically improving our performance and you'll see us support 64-bit hosts now that we have 64-bit support in the Windows Operating System. We're licensing our VHD format broadly. You'll see that in the fall, and there's a large amount of support going into all of our Windows Server System products to support the Virtual Server in a very strong way.

Today I would tell you the following: If you are looking for a virtualization environment to improve cost and quality of any person in your environment or any set of people in your environment doing software development for tests, we have absolutely a blow-away product, and I encourage you to take a look at Virtual Server 2005.

Virtualization Today

For people looking to do data center consolidations for production applications, we have a very good product, but we also have a list as long as my arm of requests for enhancement, improvements, additional features, more performance, and we're working, and we're working, and we're working, and we're working and we're working. This really is with the technologies I talked about before, one of the most significant areas of R&D investment for us, because we think that this is a core enabler to help us improve our enterprise management, and to help deliver to you the lowest TCO platform absolutely on the planet.

What I'm going to do now is ask Jeff Woolsey from our Virtual Machine Technology Group to come up on stage. Jeff is going to demonstrate some of the new capabilities in Virtual Server 2005 SP 1. Please welcome Jeff. (Applause.)


STEVE BALLMER: Before you get started, I'll now point out, it's been seven minutes since he kicked off the demo. We'll see how he does.

JEFF WOOLSEY: Excellent.

STEVE BALLMER: Not that I'm going to interrupt you when that thing finishes, but I may have a small celebratory dance.

JEFF WOOLSEY: No problem, we're all looking forward to Bill keeping his job.

STEVE BALLMER: There you go.

JEFF WOOLSEY: As Steve mentioned, we have some major announcements around virtualization and virtualization management, and I want to demonstrate some of those deliverables that you can start using today. As you can see, I'm running the 64-bit version of Virtual Server SP 1 Beta, and I'm running it on Windows Server 2003 Enterprise X64 Edition. With the 64-bit host OS support, and additional performance improvements in Virtual Server SP 1, we have seen significant performance improvement. In fact, some of our early adopters have reported as much as a 50 percent decrease in host CPU usage running the same number of virtual machines and workload. This translates into higher virtual machine density, and lower hardware cost, making Virtual Server an even better platform for server virtualization and consolidation.

Let's bring up the master status and show you all of the virtual machines we're currently running. As you can see, I'm running a variety of operating systems, including Windows 2000 Server SP 4, 2003 SP 1 Enterprise, and as Steve has been mentioning with interoperability and heterogeneity, you may want to avert your eyes, Steve, this is Red Hat's Enterprise Linux Advance Server 3.

STEVE BALLMER: As much as that hurts my eyes, I know that's an important capability for the virtual server technology for our customers.

JEFF WOOLSEY: We recognize the interoperability needs of our customers, and want to ensure that Virtual Server running on Windows Server 2003 is a great solution for that environment.

Next, I would like to switch gears and tell you what we're doing to improve manageability around our Virtual Server. Well, some vendors have created completely separate tools to manage their virtual servers and virtual machines. We've listened to our customers who have told us very loudly and clearly that they expect to be able to manage their virtual machines using the same management tools that they use to manage their physical ones. And that's exactly what we've build.

So, I brought up the MOM 2005 console so I can demonstrate the Virtual Server Management Pack. The Virtual Server Management Pack allows administrators to monitor the health and performance of their virtual server and their associated virtual machines. So, let's take a look at the health status of our virtual server. By clicking on my virtual state view, I can get a list of all the virtual servers on my network. To drill down and see all of the virtual machines associated with this particular hardware server, I click on the virtual machine role and I can see all of the virtual machines that are actually running on this physical box.

But, because we're leveraging the power of MOM, and our Management Pack uses that intelligence very well, I want to show you an even more detailed look at our Virtual Server. I'm going to drill down and get detailed information about the role my virtual server. AS you can see here, all of my virtual machines are displayed in this role view. I can see the instance name, the guest operating system version, I can see the location of all of my virtual hard disks, the amount of memory being used, the amount of disk space being used, even the network the MAC addresses for all of the virtual machines displayed in a single detailed role view within the MOM Management Pack.

And as you've seen earlier, you've seen MOM managing a Sun box, you've seen MOM managing Solaris, now you've seen MOM managing virtual machines and virtual server. And by working with our partners such as Sun and Vintella. Vintella is working on a Management Pack to provide the same types of performance, the same type of management for Linux virtual machines, as well.

STEVE BALLMER: Today we still don't have much information about the Red Hat system, but we will that's part of our absolute plan.

JEFF WOOLSEY: You're right. Absolutely. You see the Linux virtual machine is lacking some of that detail, and we're working with them to improve that level of integration.

The last thing I want to show is actually some new features and functionality that's enabled by the virtual server Management Pack. One of the things that our customers have asked for is the ability to perform tasks on multiple virtual machines simultaneously. And with the virtual server management tasks it's simply not a problem. Select the task you'd like to perform, such as save state virtual machine, walk through the wizard, select all of the virtual machines I'd like to save state and click finish. It's that easy.

Steve, the team is really excited about this opportunity to deliver on this deeper commitment to virtualization, and virtualization management. And I hope you'll find that Virtual Server Service Pack One, and the MOM Management Pack go a long way towards providing improvement in performance, interoperability, and manageability necessary to make Virtual Server running on Windows Server 2003 a great platform for server virtualization and consolidation.
Thanks for this opportunity, Steve.

STEVE BALLMER: Thanks, Jeff. (Applause.)