Microsoft touts Virtual Server as NT migration tool

Microsoft Corp. is pushing its upcoming Virtual Server 2005 software as the means for partners to migrate customers from NT Server 4.0 systems across to Windows Server 2000 and 2003.

Microsoft product manager for servers, Michael Leworthy, said Virtual Server 2005 would give partners a new way to help customers virtually consolidate their servers. More importantly, however, the software could be used to help customers still working on an NT server platform move across to Microsoft’s current and future server platforms, he said.

Virtual Server 2005 is a server-based application that allows users to run different operating systems virtually on a single hardware server. Although the application only runs on Windows Server 2003, it can host a range of x86-based operating systems, including Windows NT, Linux, Unix and OS/2.

Microsoft will release two editions of Virtual Server 2005 at its Australian TechEd conference in Canberra in August: Enterprise (up to 32 processors) and Standard (up to four processors).

Leworthy said up to 25 per cent of Microsoft server customers were still operating on a NT 4.0 platform. Of these, some 60 per cent were still running line of business applications incompatible with the newer 2000 or 2003 server products, including Microsoft’s Exchange 5.5 and SQL 7, as well as third-party business applications.

Using Virtual Server 2005, customers could continue to run these applications on a virtual NT environment, underlined by a Windows 2000 or 2003 platform.

This would give customers the benefit of the additional performance, resources, and stronger management and security buffers promised by the newer server software, while also taking away the costs of running multiple NT 4.0 server boxes, Leworthy said.

It would also free up funds to invest in upgrading business applications or buying newer software products, he said.

Microsoft was now working with a selection of partners and customers to determine whether Virtual Server 2005 could be offered as a no-cost migration tool to assist customers to transition from NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2000/2003, Leworthy said.

“I’d like to sell Virtual Server 2005, but I am really interested in securing the customer’s server platform to on sell the Windows Server System going forward,” he said. “My real focus is getting customers to understand the value of Server 2003, and how to migrate their technologies to Windows Server 2003 and future Microsoft server technologies.

“We want to arm our partners with the ability to go in an invest Virtual Server into the customer’s business. So effectively, the customer won’t have to buy Virtual Server to do this.”

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