When you talk with folks in an IT shop running virtualization in their environment, one of the common complaints heard is that ISVs don't always "officially support" their own applications running inside a virtual machine. And if you choose to virtualize those application anyway and a problem arises -- well, you could be on your own.
If there is no official support from the ISV for running the application on a virtualization platform and a problem does arise, the ISV typically requires you to then reproduce the problem on a physical machine. Hey, no problem, right? After all, what administrator doesn't have all the spare time in the world to build out an exact replica of the guest environment on to a physical machine just to prove a point?
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In some cases, administrators got wise to the game and started leaving out the small detail about how the application is installed inside of a virtual machine. This usually works when support is over the phone and not in person. And hopefully the question about virtualization either never comes up or it comes up too far down the support path, once a resolution to the problem comes about.
Luckily, things are changing. We are no longer in the virtualization dark ages where VMs were considered black magic and something ISVs refused to acknowledge as viable platforms. But things still aren't perfect even in this virtualization period of enlightenment of 2009. Many ISVs may go beyond just acknowledging virtualization and actually use it within their own walls for development, testing, or production use. But they may still be falling short of including it in their own official support agreement with customers.
Microsoft is looking to help boost confidence and support of applications running inside a Windows Server 2008 R2 environment with Hyper-V. The company announced changes to that effect with its updated Windows Server 2008 R2 Logo Program. The purpose of the company's logo program is to increase the quality of applications across the Windows server ecosystem. And one of the stated goals for the program is to help make an application more compatible, reliable, and secure when running on Microsoft's Windows client operating systems.
To that end, the company is finally looking to help virtualization users by introducing requirements for logo certification that include support for Microsoft Hyper-V. With the new logo program, Hyper-V support is no longer an optional requirement. Applications seeking the logo will be tested on virtual machines running on Microsoft Hyper-V enabled Windows Server 2008 R2 servers.
Microsoft approved testing vendors will test applications within a Hyper-V virtual machine. However, there does seem to be an out clause of sorts. Any application that cannot be run in a virtual environment seeking the logo must justify the technical and any other reasons why they cannot meet this policy. Companies going this route must fill out a special waiver request and submit it to the test vendor. These waivers must then be approved by Microsoft.
The logo program further states:
Applications that pass testing on a Virtual Machine running on Microsoft Hyper-V will be listed with an extra modifier in the Windows Server Catalog designating them as Hyper-V tested.
The designation means that the application's primary functionality has been validated in a Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine running on Hyper-V and that the application supports five key Hyper-V features specific to virtual machine behavior – save state, restore, pause, shut down and snapshots.
The designation does not imply that the application is fully Hyper-V compliant and that all application functionality works optimally. In some cases, the application and or some components in the application may have reduced and or missing functionality while running in a virtual machine running on Hyper-V. The designation also does not imply that the application has passed all the certification requirements while running in a virtual environment. Some test cases in the Certification program may still be executed on a physical machine.
If the application is expected to be impacted when running in a Virtual machine on Hyper-V (or) when Hyper-V features such as Save state, restore etc., are performed, then such impact and workarounds if any must be documented and made available to Customers on demand.
Finally, as more organizations begin wide-spread adoption of virtualization within their environments (including mission critical applications), we'll hopefully see a much larger uptick in virtualization support from ISVs. And perhaps Microsoft's new logo program will help spur the transition even faster. Find out more about the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Logo Program specifications.