Before Hyper-V, if you wanted to run BizTalk in a virtualised, enterprise-grade environment, there was really only one option – VMWare‘s ESX Server*. Unfortunately, there was one great big caveat: Microsoft wouldn’t provide you with support (you had to re-create the problem on physical hardware, which was simply too much bother, before they would offer support). Now we have Microsoft’s Hyper-V, a true first-class bare-metal virtualisation platform and everything has changed.
The BizTalk licencing model is simple – buy a licence (standard, enterprise etc.) for the number of physical processor slots you have in the system. With the introduction of Hyper-V and the ability to run several instances of BizTalk Server 2009 on virtualised instances of Windows Server 2008 we can run, for example, four BizTalk Servers on two physical machines, using just four processor slots, rather than the traditional four physical machines and eight processor slots. An immediate 50% saving on licencing.
Want to provision more BizTalk Servers for a different BizTalk Group on the same hardware? sure, you’ve already paid for the licences on the two machines, so simply launch the images and configure.
There are of course new licencing details to take into consideration, which are fully detailed on the MS Volume Licencing pages. In a nutshell, if you buy Windows Server 2008 Enterprise, you are entitled to run up to four virtual instances at a time under a single server license. There are no specific details for BizTalk Server 2009 yet, but based on comments by Burley Kawasaki, the licencing model looks set not to change.
BizTalk always was at a competitive price point, but the marriage with Hyper-V now makes it a much more compelling solution, especially in highly-available, scale-out scenarios.
If you want to read more about BizTalk Server 2009 running on Hyper-V, I recommend Chris Romp’s recently blog entry BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Hyper-V Guide.
* Ok, so you could run it on Virtual Server 2005, but you wouldn’t do that for an enterprise system, would you….?