Marketplace: Microsoft's Non-Hyper-V Hypervisor

Almost no one paid attention when MS divulged details on its cloud-based Hyper-V. Here's what you need to know so far.

In this virtualization-crazed environment, it's not often that Microsoft develops a new hypervisor with almost no one knowing anything about it. But that seems to be the case with the Windows Azure hypervisor.

Azure is Microsoft's new cloud-computing platform, announced at the recent Professional Developer's Conference (PDC). At the show, InfoWorld Media Group Inc. interviewed Microsoft corporate vice president Amitabh Srivistava, who let slip this juicy nugget:

"We have our own hypervisor, which we've designed specifically for the design point. We just call it Windows Azure hypervisor, but a lot of the advancements we're making are moving into Hyper-V, [so] the same thing will be available to the on-premises customer ... that's what [Microsoft engineer] Dave Cutler has done in really optimizing the thing out, so the overhead of the hypervisor is extremely low. And when the hypervisor overhead is low, then we can get maximum utilization by dividing the machine."

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Amitabh Srivistava

So, Microsoft has developed a separate hypervisor for cloud computing, and, although development started after Hyper-V, elements of it will be folded into future versions of Hyper-V. It also appears that the Azure hypervisor will be more efficient than Hyper-V, which is efficient to begin with.

The question is, why didn't Microsoft just use Hyper-V -- or a specially tuned version of it for cloud computing -- as the Azure hypervisor? Why use resources developing a separate hypervisor when large amounts of resources were spent on Hyper-V? And if it has significant advantages over Hyper-V, why continue to develop Hyper-V, rather than move to the Azure hypervisor? Hopefully, answers to those questions are coming.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.