Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: What features get users' thumbs up

Admins who have downloaded Windows Server 2012 RC give thumbs up to the new version of Hyper-V, inclusion of high-end features in free Hyper-V, and shared nothing live migration.

European admins look forward to new capabilities in Windows Server 2012 and high-end features in the free version of Hyper-V 3.0, such as shared-nothing live migration.

Hyper-V 3.0 will also include added capabilities for cloud computing, virtualisation, storage infrastructure and network services. It is scheduled for an October 2012 release.

“From a functional and technical perspective Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is a leap forward compared to Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V,” said Ruben Spruijt, chief technology officer at PQR BV, a professional ICT infrastructure specialist in Netherlands

The Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V server has added features such as multi-tenancy, storage resource pools, network virtualisation, and cloud backup facilities.

For Microsoft admins that attended TechEd Europe 2012 recently, some features in Windows Server 2012 stood out more than others.

Hyper-V 3.0 gets the thumbs up

“For me, Windows Server 2012 is all about Hyper-V 3.0 and its new features,” said David Davis, a virtualisation expert and video trainer at TrainSignal Inc, an IT training provider based in Schaumburg, IL.

Microsoft has lifted former restrictions on resource consumption on Hyper-V. In version 3, virtual machines (VMs) can access up to 64 virtual processors (vCPUs), up to one terabyte of RAM, and up to 16 terabytes of virtual disk space per virtual hard disk (using the new Hyper-V .vhdx format).

Use cases for shared-nothing live migration

What the shared-nothing live migration functionality in Hyper-V 3.0 and VMware vSphere 5.1 means to virtualisation admins. 

“Such scalability is amazing,” Davis said.

Hyper-V 3.0 also allows up to 1024 VMs to be active per host, and up to 4000 to be active per failover cluster.

Experts are impressed with other features such as Hyper-V replica, extensible virtual switch and storage live migration.

Shared-nothing live migration

“One of the great new features that the others don't have is shared-nothing live migration in Hyper-V 3.0,” said Ronny Pot, an IT specialist at Up & Running BV, an IT service provider for SMBs, based in Netherlands.

More resources on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V

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Top Hyper-V 3.0 features in pictures

How improved RDSH and Remote FX in Windows Server 2012 will improve VDI

New storage features in Windows Storage Server 2012

Shared-nothing live migration allows admins to migrate a VM from one physical server with direct attached storage to another physical server with direct attached server.

It requires no clustering or shared storage between both servers as just a small connection such as a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) cable will suffice resulting in zero down time, Pot explained.

“Virtual machine mobility and storage mobility are very interesting features that provide for a previously unknown flexibility,” said Didier van Hoye, a technical architect (infrastructure) specialising in Microsoft products in his blog, Working hard at IT.

“Windows Server 2012 makes us rethink our storage approaches,” van Hoye added.

Another reason admins, especially SMB admins, cheer Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is the availability of many advanced features -- including shared-nothing live migration, extensible switch and replica -- in the free version of Hyper-V.

“With Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Microsoft shows tenacity in its development and surpasses competition because various high-end feature sets are available in the free Hyper-V solution,” Spruijt said.

IT pros are also pleased with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V pricing compared to VMware Inc.’s vSphere The fact that it has no "vRAM pricing" or "per VM" pricing model means businesses can have many enterprise-grade features for less when they buy Hyper-V and System Center 2012 licenses, Davis said.

At TechEd Europe 2012, Microsoft also demonstrated that the new version of Hyper-V is capable of a maximum throughput of one million IOPS (input/output operations per second) per second in a VM. This feature excited IT pros present at the event.

Microsoft claims that the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate was downloaded more than 350,000 times since its release on May 31, 2012.

While the vendor has called it the most significant release of Windows server ever, some customers want a bit more.

One complaint is that Microsoft hasn’t updated the Hyper-V Manager interface to the Metro style of the other next generation Windows offerings.

“They [Microsoft] spent all this time in features but the boring interface is still the same,” said Davis.

If it works "as advertised" it will be good enough, but only time will tell, Davis said.

Windows Server 2012 is still in Release Candidate version, so “there can be changes anywhere,” said Pot.

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