Hyper-V: “Version 3 kills them all”

Windows Server 8 Server Manager Dashboard

Microsoft showed the latest version of Hyper-V at build conference together with Windows 8 and Windows Server 8. Microsoft showed a lot of new Hyper-V features which turn Hyper-V in really powerful hypervisor.

Some days ago I posted a blog post about new features which Microsoft showed before the build conference, now it’s time to extend the list of new features. There are a lot of even more powerful features than the once I posted back then.

Windows Server 8 as Cloud OS

First let’s start with Windows Server 8 as the base of Microsoft Cloud strategy. Microsofts focus in Windows Server 8 was to make it easy for all to build public and private cloud solutions. There are a lot of improvements to manageability, security, scalability, extensibility, predictability and reliability which will also improve the possibilities with Hyper-V. In technical terms Microsoft made a lot of improvements how you can manage a lot of servers and services, Storage, Networking and Powershell. Of course there is a lot more, but this are the parts I think are the most important. And here are some keywords to the improvements in Windows Server 8:

  • Storage improvements – SMB 2.2, SMB transparent Failover, Data deduplication, Storage Spaces, online filesystem repairs, 64TB NTFS volume etc.
  • NIC Teaming
  • Powershell v3 – You can now just do everything in Powershell and even more with 23000 PowerShell cmdlets.
  • Server Dashboard – The new Dashboard lets you manage all servers, or even better, all Services from one place.
  • Multi-tenant – everything seems to be made for that
  • Performance Counters

Windows Server 8 Hyper-V Manager

Hyper-V Host improvements

Hyper-V gets not only a lot of improvements to Virtual Machine, also the Hyper-V Hosts get some new limit improvements.

  • up to 160 logical CPUs
  • supports up to 2TB RAM
  • no more vCPU:pCPU ration limit

Hyper-V Virtual Machine improvements

Microsoft did a lot to extend the existing Virtual Machine hardware to support even high workload Virtual Machines. I will not write a lot about this because the facts here will tell more that a lot of words.

  • VHDX Format – supports up to 64TB Virtual Disks
  • 32 CPUs per VM
  • 512GB RAM per VM
  • Support for Fibre Channel Adapters
  • Supporting Virtual Active Directory Servers

Hyper-V Networking improvements

Hyper-V got a lot of improvements in terms of networking. Microsoft realized that networking features are really important if you start to create private and public cloud scenarios and now even create a mix of public and private cloud scenarios without creating a lot of work for the IT teams to reconfigure Virtual Machines.

  • QoS and flexible bandwidth allocation
  • Support for SR-IOV (Direct Access to the physical Network adapter)
  • Network Virtualization
  • PVLAN support
  • Dynamic Virtual Machine Queue (D-VMQ)
  • Receive Side Coalescing (RSC)
  • DHCP Guard
  • Extensible virtual switch
  • IPsec Task offload

Hyper-V Clustering improvements

Hyper-V gets also a lot of Cluster improvements. But you have to be aware that Clusters are for really high availability and this adds a lot of costs to projects and solutions. Microsoft is working on Cloud solutions which will give great availability to low cost. For example Hyper-V Replica or Live Migration to another host over the Ethernet without the need for a shared storage. But if you need real HA you will need the Failover Cluster.

  • supporting up to 4000 VMs per cluster
  • supporting up to 64 Cluster nodes
  • improved Cluster Manager Console
  • VM Monitoring – Application health detection inside the virtual machine
  • New Placement policies – Virtual Machine Priority and enhanced placement
  • Storage Live Migration
  • Hyper-V Replica supporting clustering
  • No need for Block Storage – you can use SMB Shares
  • Support for Storage Spaces
  • Automated Node Draining – like Maintenance mode in SCVMM
  • Cluster Aware Updating (CAU)
  • Cluster Shared Volume Improvements – BitLocker support, a lot of performance improvements, Self-Healing
  • Live Migration Queing
  • Migrate multiple Virtual Machine at the same time

Windows Server 8 Hyper-V VM Move

Hyper-V Storage improvements

A I mentioned earlier Microsoft made a lot of improvements in terms of storage in Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V can take advantage of those which are quiet impressive. For example with the new features in SMB 2.2 you can now use SMB file shares to store your Virtual Machines.

  • VHDX
  • ODX
  • RDMA
  • SMB 2.2 – Transparent Failover
  • 4K native disk support
  • Data Deduplication
  • Virtual Fiber Channel
  • VM boot from SAN

Hyper-V Management Improvements

As everywhere in Windows Server 8 PowerShell is the key. And the new Server Manager Dashboard Microsoft enable to create Server Groups to manage multiple servers from a single console.

  • Powershell for Hyper-V
  • Powershell Workflows – Commands and Tasks across servers
  • Hyper-V Extensible Switch – lets vendors to create “plugins”. Could be very interesting for Cisco UCS installations.
  • Server Manager Dashboard – lets you manage multiple Hyper-V host from a single console.
  • SCVMM 2012 – not a part of Windows Server 8 but will add great management solutions

Windows Server 8 Hyper-V Powershell

Hyper-V HA and Data Protection

Now I think this is maybe the greatest new feature. You can now live migrate a Virtual Machine from one Hyper-V Host to another without Shared Storage or Cluster configuration. And with this option Microsoft also included a new feature called Hyper-V Replica which includes the option to replicate Virtual Machine to another host which can be hosted in the same network or even in the cloud.

  • Live Migration
  • Live Storage Migration
  • Live Migration to another Hosts (Not clustered) over the Ethernet
  • Hyper-V Replica – Replicated Virtual Machines to another Hyper-V host on-premise or public cloud
  • BitLocker support for CSV

This are not all of the new features Windows Server 8 Hyper-V has to offer but I tried to list the important ones. And if Microsoft sticks with their licensing model, it will be a really strong competitor to the VMWare vShpere 5.