Virtual Server 2005 released – with a very cool tag line

For the huge positive impact that it's going to have on developers and administrators everywhere, the release of Virtual Server 2005 seemed to go by with barely a whisper from Microsoft blogs. One of the coolest aspects of Virtual Server is that it plays well with MOM and SMS right from version one. That's why there's a combined launch roadshow going across America, showcasing MOM 2005 and Virtual Server 2005. For more details about Virtual Server versions and pricing, check out the press release.Pull a server out of thin air

Greg Scher of the Unofficial Microsoft Weblog picked up on the significance of the launch when he wrote:

This will give reporting in SMS the ability to differentiate between physical and virtual servers so that they can be patched appropriately. In other words, a virtual server wouldn’t necessarily require the hardware drivers that a physical server requires so this capability gives administrators the ability to now target those patches based on this criteria.

We couldn't have put it better ourselves 🙂 Then he goes on:

Not sure why, but it looks like servers hosted on Virtual PC for Mac will not be supported. That’s a bit disappointing given the recent release of a new version of Virtual PC for the Mac. If someone can clarify the TECHNICAL reasons for this I’d be interested to hear them because I can’t see any… and no cynical replies please.

I'm guessing that there are indeed hard technical problems here - not impossible problems, but ones that would take a lot of time to consider, solve, debug, test, and support. And that translates to a delayed release and increased cost, to support a relatively small market segment. We can never make everyone happy, and there are trade-offs everywhere: I'm betting that this was one of them. Sorry 🙁

Oh, and isn't that a cool tag line? "Pull a server out of thin air". Kudos to whoever in marketing came up with that!

Comments (12)

  1. Luther Allin says:

    According to the SMS 2003 SP1 readme, Greg Scher’s comment about running your SMS environment under virtual servers is incorrect. Microsoft is not supporting any server roles running as a guest operating system. Quote from the readme: (see the very last sentence).

    "SMS 2003 SP1 Supports Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005

    Managing Host Operating Systems

    SMS 2003 SP1 supports the Advanced Client running on the host operating system. SMS offers unrestricted support for computers acting as a host operating system. Computers running Virtual PC or Virtual Server can fill any client or server SMS role.

    Virtual PC requires Windows 2000 Professional or Window XP. Therefore, the host operating system supports the Advanced Client. The host operating system can support the SMS 2003 Administrator console.

    Virtual Server requires Windows Server 2003. Therefore, Virtual Server can host operating systems that support the Advanced Client. The host operating system can also support:

    An SMS site server

    The SMS site database, stored in Microsoft SQL ServerTM

    A management point

    A Client access point

    Distribution points, with or without Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS)

    A reporting point

    No interaction occurs between the Virtual PC host operating system and other applications running on the same computer. Similarly, no interaction occurs between the Virtual Server host operating system and other applications running on the same computer.

    Managing Guest Operating Systems

    SMS 2003 SP1 supports the Legacy Client or Advanced Client running on the guest operating system, provided that the guest operating system meets the operating system and dependency requirements for the particular SMS client. SMS server roles are not supported on guest operating systems."

  2. Thanks Luther – I’ve deleted the offending paragraph. You can see where the confusion comes from, since higher up in the README it says "Computers running Virtual PC or Virtual Server can fill any client or server SMS role". This is strictly true, but presumably they mean it can run an SMS server *as well as* Virtual Server, rather than running an SMS server *inside* Virtual Server.

    With virtualized PCs we need to learn a whole new set of terminology (host OS vs guest OS, real PC vs virtual PC), and we obviously need to pay *much* more attention to getting our language right when describing exactly what is and is not possible. Would it make it clearer if we added to add a table to that README? e.g. 2×2, with rows being roles (SMS server and SMS client), columns being OSes (guest OS and host OS), and the cells saying whether that role is allowed in that OS?

  3. Jason Dossett says:

    Is this one of those cases where ‘not supported’ only means ‘don’t call us but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work’? What about MVS would prevent SMS from working correctly?

  4. Luther Allin says:


    Thanks for the reply.

    I think that the table is a good idea. You’re right, the terminology can get confusing.

    When I read the line, "Computers running Virtual PC or Virtual Server can fill any client or server SMS role," I understood "the computer running Virtual PC or Virtual Server" to be a "host" computer running the Virtual Server or PC application with other "guest" operating systems on that computer. Then the sentence "SMS server roles are not supported on guest operating systems," sort of closed the door on me and solidified what I thought I understood.

    So exactly what is allowed? In a test lab I do have an SMS envorinment in Virtual PC and it works fine. In fact, when I took the SMS class, it was all done in VM’s. I don’t know why you would want to do this in production especially if you had a box big enough to run Virtual Server with other "guest" operating systems on it. If you could clear up what MS is recommending that we do and don’t do with VM’s and SMS, and maybe the extent of ‘support’ as Jason has mentioned, that would be great.


  5. We tend to make support a very binary thing, so that there’s no possibility of misunderstanding. "No support" always means "this might or might not work now, or at any moment in the future". In this case it probably also means "if anything goes wrong with running SMS Server inside Virtual Server and you call Product Support, they won’t open a case unless you can first demonstrate that the problem also exists in SMS Server running on a real machine".

    I’ll ping the marketing folks and see if we can get the readme clarified – this sort of thing has to go through a multi-stage review, so it might take a while 🙂

  6. Jason Dossett says:

    Tertiary would be nice. 🙂

    1) Supported

    2) Installs, Runs, Not Tested, and Don’t Call Us But Try Groups

    3) Doesn’t Install, Won’t Run, Not Tested, and No One Can Help You

  7. Sadly tertiary means that customers will misinterpret #2 as being #1, and then we’ll get angry calls about it!

    And the SMS team have confirmed that running SMS Server inside a guest operating system on Virtual Server is NOT supported. There’s even been a bug filed to make this clearer in the documentation 🙂

  8. eobiont says:

    Pretty sure all the SMS 2003 labs run with the servers running inside virtual server.

  9. "Do as we say, not as we do"? 🙂

  10. Antonio says:

    I have a problem with my SMS 2003 SP2 installation, can any one helpme? i trying to install SMS 2003 with SP2 in a guest operating system,  is it possible? SMS 2003 is suported in a virtual server guest? Mi host server runs Virtual Server 2005 R2 on a Wnidows 2003 R2, and the guest operating system runs Windows 2003 R2, please helpme

  11. Hi Antonio – as I mention higher up in the comments, the SMS team say that running SMS 2003 inside a guest operating system is not supported.

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