Black Hat: Microsoft seeks help on virtualisation security

Microsoft has for the first time laid out the underpinnings of the security capabilities it has built into its forthcoming Windows Server Virtualisation technology, in hopes that researchers will help vet the software, which is expected to ship next year.

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Microsoft has for the first time laid out the underpinnings of the security capabilities it has built into its forthcoming Windows Server Virtualisation technology, in hopes that researchers will help vet the software, which is expected to ship next year.

The company chose this week's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas to talk about the security inherent in the WSV hypervisor-virtualisation technology formerly code-named Viridian.

It will be an add-on to Windows Server 2008, and Microsoft hopes it will offer serious competition to VMWare, as well as XenSource, Virtual Iron, , Novell and Red Hat in the booming market for virtualisation technology.

"As Viridian comes to market, we want to have the security research community engaged in making sure we have a secure product," said Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager of virtualisation.

Neil said WSV was developed as part of the company's Trusted Computing initiative and with its Security Development Lifecycle guidelines, but clearly it's time to get experts to poke and prod the software.

The first public beta, however, is not expected to ship until the end of this year. The finished software is slated to ship within 180 days after Windows Server 2008 is complete, in late December. The server, however, is scheduled to ship on 27 February 2008.

The hypervisor is a thin layer of software that in essence is a microkernel built for reliability. The other virtualisation services have been separated off into a root partition.

Microsoft says the hypervisor's role is to provide isolation between guest environments and make sure that operations, such as a security breach in one environment, do not cross over to other guest operating systems running on the hypervisor.

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