VIRTUALIZATION – MICROSOFT HYPER-V 2012 R2 – ADVANTAGES AND NEW FEATURES
Universal Information Technologies has vast experience in Hyper-V support and implementations. If you have any virtualization questions or are looking to move into a virtual environment, please contact us to assist in this exciting process.
What is Microsoft Hyper-V?
Microsoft introduced Hyper-V as a virtualization platform in 2008, and it continued to release new Hyper-V versions with new Windows server versions. So far, there are a total of four versions, including Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008.
Hyper-V is a hybrid hypervisor, which is installed from OS (via Windows wizard of adding roles). However, during installation it redesigns the OS architecture and becomes just like a next layer on the physical hardware.
The Hyper-V server role in Windows Server lets you create a virtualized server computing environment where you can create and manage virtual machines. You can run multiple operating systems on one physical computer and isolate the operating systems from each other. With this technology, you can improve the efficiency of your computing resources and free up your hardware resources.
Advantages of Hyper-V
The advantages of running enterprise-level solutions in a Hyper-V virtualized environment include the following:
Significant cost savings
Consolidation of hardware resources – Multiple physical servers can be easily consolidated into comparatively fewer servers by implementing virtualization with Hyper-V. Consolidation accommodates full use of deployed hardware resources.
Hyper-V licensing costs are included with the license cost of Windows Server 2012r2. Hyper-V can also be purchased for use as a stand-alone product that can be installed on Windows Server 2012r2 Server Core.
Ease of administration:
Consolidation and centralization of resources simplifies administration.
Consolidation of existing servers into fewer physical servers simplifies deployment.
Implementation of scale-up and scale out is accommodated with much greater ease.
Because Hyper-V is a cluster aware application, Windows Server 2012r2 provides native host clustering support for virtual machines created in a Hyper-V virtualized environment.
A comprehensive Hyper-V management solution is available with System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
Key Hyper-V performance advantages and characteristics:
Improved hardware sharing architecture – Hyper-V provides improved access and utilization of core resources, such as disk, networking, and video when running guest operating systems with a hypervisor-aware kernel and which are equipped with requisite virtual server client (VSC) code (known as Hyper-V enlightened I/O).
Disk performance is critical for disk I/O intensive enterprise applications such as Microsoft BizTalk Server and in addition to Hyper-V enlightened I/O; Hyper-V provides “Pass-through” disk support which provides disk performance on par with physical disk performance. Note that “Pass-through” disk support provides improved performance at a small cost to convenience. “Pass-through” disks are essentially physical disks/LUNs that are attached to a virtual machine and do not support some of the functionality of virtual disks, such as Virtual Machine Snapshots.
Processor hardware-assisted virtualization support – Hyper-V takes full advantage of processor hardware assisted virtualization support that is available with recent processor technology.
Multi-core (SMP) guest operating system support – Hyper-V provides the ability to support up to four processors in a virtual machine environment, which allows applications to take full advantage of multi-threading functionality in a virtual machine. Virtual machines running Windows Server 2003 support up to two processors, therefore, BizTalk Server 2006 can support only two-cores.
Both 32-bit and 64-bit guest operating system support – Hyper-V provides broad support for simultaneously running different types of operating systems, including 32-bit and 64-bit systems across different server platforms, such as Windows, Linux®, and others.
Comprehensive product support – Because Microsoft enterprise applications (such as Exchange Server and SQL Server) are fully tested running in Hyper-V, Microsoft provides code fix support for these applications when deployed and run in a Hyper-V environment.
Scalability – Additional processing power, network bandwidth, and storage capacity can be accomplished quickly and easily by apportioning additional available resources from the host computer to the guest virtual machine(s). This may require that the host computer is upgraded or that the guest virtual machines are moved to a more capable host computer.
What’s New in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2012 R2
Shared virtual hard disk
Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 enables clustering virtual machines by using shared virtual hard disk (VHDX) files.
This feature is used to build a high availability infrastructure, and it is especially important for private cloud deployments and cloud-hosted environments that manage large workloads. Shared virtual hard disks enable multiple virtual machines to access the same virtual hard disk (VHDX) file, which provides shared storage for use by Windows Failover Clustering.. The shared virtual hard disk files can be hosted on Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) or on Server Message Block (SMB)-based Scale-Out File Server file shares
Resize virtual hard disk
Hyper-V storage has been updated to support resizing virtual hard disks while the virtual machine is running. Resizing virtual hard disks while the virtual machine is running enables an administrator to perform configuration and maintenance operations on the virtual hard disks while the associated virtual machine is online or the virtual hard disk data disk is in use.
Storage Quality of Service
Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 includes storage Quality of Service (QoS). Storage QoS enables you to manage storage throughput for virtual hard disks that are accessed by your virtual machines.
Storage QoS enables you to specify the maximum and minimum I/O loads in terms of I/O operations per second (IOPS) for each virtual disk in your virtual machines. Storage QoS ensures that the storage throughput of one virtual hard disk does not impact the performance of another virtual hard disk on the same host.
Hyper-V live migration has been updated to allow the administrator to select the optimal performance options when moving virtual machines to a different server.
In larger scale deployments, such as private cloud deployments or cloud hosting providers, this update can reduce overhead on the network and CPU usage in addition to reducing the amount of time for a live migration. Hyper-V administrators can configure the appropriate live migration performance options based on their environment and requirements.
- Cross-version live migrations
Hyper-V live migration has been updated to support migrating Hyper-V virtual machines in Windows Server 2012 to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2. Upgrading to a new version of Windows Server no longer requires downtime to the virtual machines.
Hyper-V administrators can move Hyper-V virtual machines in Windows Server 2012 to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2. Moving a virtual machine to a down-level server running Hyper-V is not supported.
Virtual machine generation
Virtual machine generation determines the virtual hardware and functionality that is presented to the virtual machine.
Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 includes two supported virtual machine generations.
- Generation 1 – Provides the same virtual hardware to the virtual machine as in previous versions of Hyper-V.
- Generation 2 – Provides the following new functionality on a virtual machine – Secure Boot (enabled by default), Boot from a SCSI virtual hard disk, Boot from a SCSI virtual DVD, PXE boot by using a standard network adapter and UEFI firmware support
Hyper-V integration services are updated with a new service that allows Hyper-V administrators to copy files to the virtual machine while the virtual machine is running without using a network connection. In previous versions of Hyper-V, a Hyper-V administrator may have needed to shut down a virtual machine to copy files to it. A new Hyper-V integration service has been added that allows the Hyper-V administrator to copy files to a running virtual machine without using a network connection.
Hyper-V is updated to support exporting a virtual machine or a virtual machine checkpoint while the virtual machine is running. You no longer need to shut down a virtual machine before exporting.
Exporting a virtual machine while the virtual machine is running allows the administrator to export the virtual machine without incurring any downtime.
This assists in the following scenarios:
- Duplicating an existing production environment or part of an environment to a test lab.
- Testing a planned move to a cloud hosting provider or to a private cloud.
- Troubleshooting an application issue.
Failover Clustering and Hyper-V
Using Windows Failover Clustering with Hyper-V enables virtual network adapter protection and virtual machine storage protection. Hyper-V has been enhanced to detect physical storage failures on storage devices that are not managed by Windows Failover Clustering (SMB 3.0 file shares). Storage failure detection can detect the failure of a virtual machine boot disk or any additional data disks associated with the virtual machine. If such an event occurs, Windows Failover Clustering ensures that the virtual machine is relocated and restarted on another node in the cluster. This eliminates situations where unmanaged storage failures would not be detected and where virtual machine resources may become unavailable.
Hyper-V and Windows Failover Clustering are enhanced to detect network connectivity issues for virtual machines. If the physical network assigned to the virtual machine suffers a failure (such as a faulty switch port or network adapter, or a disconnected network cable), the Windows Failover Cluster will move the virtual machine to another node in the cluster to restore network connectivity.
Enhanced session mode
Virtual Machine Connection in Hyper-V now allows redirection of local resources in a Virtual Machine Connection session. Virtual Machine Connection enhances the interactive session experience provided for Hyper-V administrators who want to connect to their virtual machines. It provides functionality that is similar to a remote desktop connection when you are interacting with a virtual machine.
In previous versions of Hyper-V, Virtual Machine Connection provided redirection of only the virtual machine screen, keyboard, and mouse with limited copy functionality. To get additional redirection abilities, a remote desktop connection to the virtual machine could be initiated, but this required a network path to the virtual machine.
The following local resources can be redirected when using Virtual Machine Connection.
- Display configuration
- Smart cards
- USB devices
- Supported Plug and Play devices
Hyper-V Replica adds the following new features in Windows Server 2012 R2:
You can configure extended replication. In extended replication, your Replica server forwards information about changes that occur on the primary virtual machines to a third server (the extended Replica server). After a planned or unplanned failover from the primary server to the Replica server, the extended Replica server provides further business continuity protection. As with ordinary replication, you configure extended replication by using Hyper-V Manager, Windows PowerShell, or WMI.
The frequency of replication, which previously was a fixed value, is now configurable. You can also access recovery points for 24 hours. Previous versions had access to recovery points for only 15 hours.
As part of Microsoft’s continuing commitment to making Hyper-V the best all-around virtual platform for hosting providers, there are now more built-in Linux Integration Services for newer distributions and more Hyper-V features are supported for Linux virtual machines.
Linux support for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 has now been enhanced in the following ways:
- Improved video – a Hyper-V-specific video driver is now included for Linux virtual machines to provide an enhanced video experience with better mouse support.
- Dynamic Memory – Dynamic Memory is now fully supported for Linux virtual machines, including both hot-add and remove functionality. This means you can now run Windows and Linux virtual machines side-by-side on the same host machine while using Dynamic Memory to ensure fair allocation of memory resources to each virtual machine on the host.
- Online VHDX resize – virtual hard disks attached to Linux virtual machines can be resized while the virtual machine is running.
- Online backup – you can now back up running Linux virtual machines to Windows Azure using the Windows Azure Online Backup capabilities of the in-box Windows Server Backup utility, System Center Data Protection Manager, or any third-party backup solution that supports backing up Hyper-V virtual machines.
You can manage Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 from a computer running Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1. In previous releases, you could not connect to and manage a down-level version of Hyper-V. A solution was to create a remote desktop session to a down-level server running Hyper-V and run the Hyper-V management operating system from within the remote desktop session. This solution required that Remote Desktop Services was running and properly configured, and the solution was not viable when Hyper-V was installed on Server Core installation.
You can manage Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 from Hyper-V Manager in Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1. This enables you to upgrade your management workstation to the latest version of the operating system and to connect and manage Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012.
You can deploy the latest version of Hyper-V without upgrading the management workstation immediately.
- Automatic Virtual Machine Activation
Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) lets you install virtual machines on a computer where Windows Server 2012 R2 is properly activated without having to manage product keys for each individual virtual machine, even in disconnected environments. AVMA binds the virtual machine activation to the licensed virtualization server and activates the virtual machine when it starts. AVMA also provides real-time reporting on usage, and historical data on the license state of the virtual machine. Reporting and tracking data is available on the virtualization server.
Universal Information Technologies and Hyper-V
Universal Information Technologies has vast experience in Hyper-V support and implementations.
If you have any virtualization questions or are looking to move into a virtual environment, please contact us to assist in this exciting process.
Telephone: +27 (012) 345-6172