Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V

September 8th, 2012 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

With the release of Windows Server 2012 yesterday, Microsoft significantly updated its Hyper-V virtualization platform. Available both as part of Server 2012 and as a free standalone installation, the third generation of Hyper-V brings with it a collection of features for which we used to have to pay topay extra . Plus new features  you couldn’t do at all with other hypervisors (like live migration of a server from one server to another with no shared storage between the two).

Hyper-V supports a host of high-availability and “resiliency” features, such as off-site replication of servers. It does many of those things as well or better than offerings from VMware and Citrix—regardless of whether you’re virtualizing Windows servers, Windows desktops, or Linux. While the licenses for Windows Server itself are tied to a specific set of hardware, other operating systems can be hosted on the standalone Hyper-V server and managed as part of the same environment.

Part of the reason for the boost in capability comes from Server 2012’s (and Hyper-V’s) support for Non-Uniform Memory Architecture spanning. NUMA-based systems assign blocks of memory as “local” to specific processors to boost performance, but that limits the amount of memory that can be assigned to a virtual machine. Hyper-V’s NUMA spanning feature allows virtual machines to reserve memory across multiple nodes, allowing much larger memory assignments to a single VM. But this also results in an overall performance hit for the VMs running within the hypervisor. So if you’re not running VMs that need extra-large helpings of dedicated memory, you can turn NUMA spanning off.

Microsoft has tied up  all of this  a relatively simple and inexpensive package. This could potentially save organizations a significant amount of money. The free version of the Hyper-V hypervisor is just as capable as the version that ships as part of Windows Server 2012—there’s no cap on the supported memory or number of processors. Hyper-V Server 2012 is a full-feature version of the hypervisor, with all of the same manageability features of the Server 2012 component. If you’re not planning on running a Server 2012 license in a hypervisor, but want to run other operating systems as virtual machines (such as Windows 7 or 8 for a virtual desktop infrastructure, older versions of Windows Server, or Linux) using Microsoft management tools, Hyper-V Server 2012 is all you need.

Hyper-V Manager includes wizards for doing just about every common virtual machine management task such as creating a new VM or virtual disk, importing and exporting VMs, setting up replication, or moving a VM or its storage from one physical location to another.

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