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Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V New Features

Author by Nathan Lasnoski

Stick a fork in VMWare, they're done.  I welcome VMWare to the likes of Novell, where they are desperately trying to grip onto what they have left in the datacenter space.  At this point who honestly believes that VMWare is really innovating at the rate that Microsoft is?  Not only is Microsoft delivering new builds quickly, it is delivering features that VMWare doesn't have (such as Shared Nothing Live Migration) and its features are used in many of the largest datacenters in the world.  In that respect, an on-premise cloud shares the same enterprise grade features as Azure and can even move between the two environments and leverage cloud capabilities for features like recovery and management (System Center in Azure IaaS).   I've been working with Hyper-V since before it was available and I'm very excited about where Hyper-V is going in Windows Server 2012 R2.  The new features are amazing and simply build on the new features in Windows Server 2012.   Here are some of the awesome VM features in Hyper-V that were talked about during the "Introduction to Windows Server 2012 R2 session, and What's New In Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V today":  
  1. Shared VHDX files.  Share VHDX files between virtual machines to create guest clusters.  This could be hosted on a Windows Server 2012 SMB share, using RDMA over SMB.
  1. Guest Storage IO QoS.  This allows the virtualization administrator to constrain the IOPS to individual virtual machines and based on different tiers of storage capability.
  1. Hyper-V Replica(s).  The Hyper-V replica capability which is super easy to use and eats the SAN replication provider's lunch can now replicate a VM not only to one host, but to a third as well.  You can also set the replication frequency different between the two hosts.
  1. Windows Azure Compatibility.  I mentioned in my previous post that Windows Azure runs on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, which is great because it provides VM mobility between the on-premise environment and Azure.  The goal being to provide the opportunity to extend your datacenter to Azure without the concern of "what if I need to bring it back on premise."  This is complemented by "Generation 2 VMs", which removes the pretense that a VM needs to pretend it is emulated hardware.
  1. Automatic Guest Activation.  This may seem basic, but activating Windows and configuring KMS servers has always been a pain.  What if an activated guest auto-activated a VM?  Now it does.
  1. Live Migration Improvements.  Live Migration now has compression and RDMA support.  What does this do?  It makes Live Migration crazy fast, even for many live migrations at the same time.
  1. Online Resizing of VHDX files.  You can now live resize a VHDX file (larger or smaller).
  1. Storage.  Microsoft is in the market of commoditizing and bringing down the price of platform services.  They did it with virtualization, and they are doing it now with storage using out of box capabilities to build your own storage platforms on Windows Server 2012.  Instead of purchasing expensive SAN storage, build your own SAN with commodity hardware, SMB over RDMA, and even purchase twice as much disk for the money! 
  How do I migrate to the new Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2?  Just Live Migrate.  A cross-version, shared-nothing live migration is built in. Here are my thoughts on what Microsoft is essentially doing: Massive Technology Displacement by Microsoft at TechEd 2013   Cheers,   Nathan Lasnoski

Nathan Lasnoski

Chief Technology Officer