At its PDC 2008 conference last month Microsoft unveiled its effort to become a cloud computing provider through a new version of Windows called Azure.
In a couple of days some early details about the new operating system started to emerge, and we discovered that Azure will certainly leverage hardware virtualization but not through the Hyper-V 2.0 engine that Microsoft hinted about.
Now the video footage of a PDC presentation details how Windows Azure actually use the hypervisor. The guys at vinternals made a good summary of it:
Rather than put that base VHD onto local USB devices ala ESXi, Microsoft PXE boot a Windows PE “maintenance os”, drop a common base image onto the endpoint, dynamically build a personality (offline) as a differencing disk (ie linked clone), drop that down to the endpoint, and then boot straight off the differencing disk VHD (booting directly off VHD’s is a _very_ cool feature of Win7 / Server 2008 R2). I’m glad even Microsoft recognize the massive benefits of this approach – no installation, rapid rollback, etc.