Windows Server optimize

Hyper-V Server 2012: Game changer in the making

The free hypervisor space is incredibly competitive, or at least it was. Rick Vanover explains why this release will make the difference for Hyper-V.

The free hypervisor space is a very important segment for IT pros getting started with virtualization. It allows organizations to give virtualization a try without incredible financial investment. Further, some organizations are just fine running free virtualization tools in a production capacity.

Last week at Microsoft TechEd North America, the details were laid out for Hyper-V Server 2012. This is the free hypervisor and is not to be confused with Windows Server 2012 with the Hyper-V role; although the codebase is quite similar, they are officially different products.

Hyper-V Server 2012 will bring incredible scale to the free virtualization space; and, in fact, no other free offering comes close. The free version of Hyper-V will support up to 4 TB of RAM on the host, individual virtual machines with 1 TB of RAM, and guest vCPU assignments up to 64 cores. This is absolutely incredible. A free hypervisor that really exceeds many revenue offerings is mind boggling.

The release candidate for Hyper-V Server 2012 is available under certain access levels from Microsoft from resources such as a TechNet subscription. The release candidate installs just like any version of Windows or Hyper-V Server that is available today, quick and painlessly.

After the release candidate is installed; the menu on the host console is materially unchanged from the previous versions of the free Hyper-V as shown in Figure A below:

Figure A

The capabilities of this free hypervisor are very high. Couple that with the free migration technologies that don’t require shared storage, and it’s pretty clear that Microsoft is serious in the virtualization space.

Does this new version of the free Hyper-V operating system appeal to you? Have you downloaded the release candidate? Share your comments below.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

28 comments
senerakyol
senerakyol

Hyper-v Server 2012 will also be the only free hypervisor out there which will support up to 64 Node Failover Cluster! Current free version supports up to 16 nodes as its sibling that ships with Windows Server 2008 R2.

Bat_Pug
Bat_Pug

I've been using Hyper-V in a production environment for 3 years now and I look forward to the upcoming improvements. Being a school with volume licensing, Hyper-V was a natural choice for us as doing so has actually reduced our licensing costs. I really don't how a sysad can use a product like Hyper-V and claim that it's difficult or undocumented. My first delve into the virtualization arena was to take a couple old servers and add the Hyper-V role to them. A couple Google searches and a bit of quick reading on my favorite forums (totaling less then 30 minutes) resulted in a virutalized environment in less than 30 minutes. I was then adding VM's and would have new servers running in even less time then that. I'm on my second Hyper-V deployment utilizing HA, live migration features without hours of training or research. It's just stupid easy.

sambaxter07
sambaxter07

Does anyone know where I can get hold of a detailed Hyper-V implementation plan? Thanks

cristiano
cristiano

Well, it's not really free: you still need to pay a Windows Server license for each hypervisor. Then you need to pay the hardware. And the support. It's not free, it's just cheaper... but you get what you pay for, VMware's technology is much better than Microsoft's. If you're interested in a cheaper virtualization enviroment check Red Hat: You have a big name to give credibility to your project, a great technology under the hood (KVM probably beats even VMware on the performance side) and it's really free in small-scale scenarios when the open-source version is enough.

cbojan
cbojan

... since it does not allow us freedom in choices but rather keeps us in the M$ ecosystem!

tim.rosenquist
tim.rosenquist

When FREE includes high availability, load distribution, and centralized management of multiple hosts/clusters.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

Xen, as of v4.1 over a year ago, permits 5TB hosts, 1TB guests, 128 cores/guest. http://wiki.xen.org/wiki/Xen_Release_Features And it's really really free, in that there are effective free solutions for managing it, it's not a gateway drug for other boughten software. Not sure that some of those stratospheric numbers matter much - i mean, who's benchmarked a 256 core host with 4TB of RAM etc., do the solutions truly scale cleanly to that level? Otoh, i definitely agree that VMWare's move with vSphere Hypervisor (v5 of their free offering) is too limiting ... 32GB/host?? really??

dingbat01
dingbat01

Don't mix virtualization with the discussion on Windows Hyper-V. This thread is about HyperV, not virtualization. Virtualization can either be free or costly. Please don't try to say that MS is not free just because you don't like it. It is free, it just depends on how much you want to support it. Just like good VMware setup etc... HyperV works, and this version is free, I've used the previous one very successfully and like Skruis had problems initially connecting to it for management purposes, but I worked through it like any linux bod would do and it's fine.

Skruis
Skruis

And I found managing it to be kind of a pain in a non-domain joined scenario. It installed effortlessly but when I tried to manage it using the tools from another non-domain joined workstation, it proved to be a bit problematic. There was some documentation for resolving the issues but eventually, I spent enough time figuring it out that I went back to XenServer. Though with Windows Server (I tried WinSvr8), I used the Hyper-V role and really liked it so I'm assuming that if you get passed the issues that were frustrating for me, that the free Hyper-V server would work pretty well.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Then you have to pay. And you will, without a doubt, need support.

cristiano
cristiano

Difficulty is layered, just like most things in IT. The first layer is not that difficult if you have the proper background. Sometimes, however, you click on the button and it just doesn't work the way it's supposed to. Those are the times when you realize who has skill and who doesn't... ;)

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

I wondered this too (would have been a typical MS marketing campaign, calling it "free" when you still needed an OS license) ... but in fact, you CAN just download and directly install HyperV on hardware, no OS license.

maszsam
maszsam

MS bought CENTOS, the RedHat clone. Caused a bunch of problems for RedHat. And Scientific Linux, a government sponsored orginization also ripped off RedHat. Seems very unethical. What? Microsoft nor the Government couldn't afford or weren't capable of doing their own? Very cheesy. But of course you should use VMware and unless you have a really good reason linux workstations as well. Cost, security and resources. IT has changed. There are multiple solid solutions for just about every need. 1995 is long gone.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

I'm testing vSphere 5 in my lab right now and I can create these enormous guests, too. So what? I don't know of any commonly available applications that would allow you to take advantage of that feature yet: The virtual "hardware" has outpaced the ability of the OS to exploit it--for the first time ever it isn't the other way around.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

You may not have to pay a fee for it up front, but you have support expenses, training expenses (even if its just "buy a book,") ramp-up time (your salary isn't free,) power to run the hardware, hardware to run it on (or cloud cycles to pay for,) a place to work out of to manage it all (or pay somebody to manage it for you.) Even "totally free" software--as in "free price" and "freedom to change it to meet your needs" isn't actually totally-free-of-costs. Likewise, you might not have to "pay" for a license to get Hyper-V Server, but is most assuredly not free. This doesn't even begin to get into the discussion of "free" to acquire vs. "free" as in "Freedom," either: I'm only talking about a rational business discussion of cost. In business, nothing is ever free. The main reason "free" is on the table is to get IT admins to try the product on older systems to learn the power of it and advocate for it in production. That was VMware's strategy, Citrix's, and its now Microsoft's. It is a wise-strategy: I've got it downloading right now and will try it (albeit as a guest under my vSphere environment) precisely because there is no big PITA to get my hands on a legitimate copy.

reggaethecat
reggaethecat

I've used Microsoft products for 14 years and only ever logged two support calls with them. One of those was 'free' with my TechNet subscription. Say what you like about MS, their products are easy to use and because they are popular there are lots of people who've had issues and already solved them.

jetsethi
jetsethi

Yes, you have to pay for support somewhere along the line, however MS has many free support sites available, and don't forget about the massive community of users.

mark
mark

Microsoft DID NOT buy Cent-OS and most of your rant is incoherent. You have no concept of Open Source. They didn't "Rip Off" anyone. The RedHat license is Open Source. This means that as long as they use the code and release their changes they are legal. The Open Source License states they are perfectly legal and free to use sell and even make $$ off of the code. They just have to release their code to the public when they make changes. (unlike Apple after they made changes to their open source code and wouldn't release it)

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

To the point of the article, vSphere Hypervisor, their new name for v5 of the free version, is way more limiting, in that it will only support 32GB of memory on a host. You may be using the eval license, if you're truly testing enormous guests ... be aware that when the eval ends, you won't be able to use the free version on hosts with > 32GB of memory.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

I don't recall saying anything whatsoever about Microsoft... I specifically said that "free" products aren't really "free," they're simply "cheaper," because the products don't deploy themselves or come with free hardware to operate them on, free electricity to power them, or free cloud-CPU cycles to execute them. Can you refute any of that? Does Hyper-V Server 2012 in fact come with free hardware, electricity, and pay your company for your salary while you're setting it up? If it does, you have my sincerest apologies. Otherwise I stand but I what I said: It's not "free," not beacuse it is Microsoft but because nothing in the entire world (other than air) is free.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

True, but all of those things are of limited utility for a serious production outage where it has to be fixed RIGHT NOW. Virtualization is a little bit different than anything you've ever done in IT before. It isn't the same as being a "server dude." Not remotely. It's like having a job where you have to be part Server Admin, part Network admin, part Network Engineer, and part Systems Architect to make things work correctly. Any buffoon can click through the wizards and "install" Hyper-V Server (or VMware, or Xen, for that matter) but only somebody with all of these skills can really make the thing achieve the efficiencies you're looking for in production, and perform up to potential. Just slapping a "Free hypervisor" on some hardware and considering yourself "virtualized" is a recipe for disaster, a disaster the ignorant will eventually blame on "virtualization." To truly take advantage of a "free" hypervisor in production you basically have to pay for the upgraded version--there are critical components missing from all of the "free" hypervisors designed to channel you into paying for the full-price product. For example, ESXi Free version doesn't include the vStorage API, which is the lion's share of the backup functionality. You can hack a backup by creating a second data-store on separate storage and regularly cloning your production VMs to it, but that's super-inefficient due to enormous backup size--1:1 size ratio with production data--for each copy. So if you 5 iterations of previous backups, your "backup" storage footprint is quintuple your actual production usage. That's VMware's leverage to get you into a paid product. I haven't dug too deeply into the Hyper-V SErver I'm testing out... but I guarantee there's something in here that arm-twists you into buying a commercial version of this, or licensing a pile of other paid Microsoft products to overcome the limitations in the "Free" version.

dingbat01
dingbat01

If we're to split hairs, then air also isn't free. It requires effort on the bodes part to obtain (breathe in) and then convert into energy, that we use to breathe. Read your Einstien (e=mc2 etc). As for love being free, free love cost me two divorces and three houses. love is NEVER free...

reggaethecat
reggaethecat

The software is FREE. You can download it FOR FREE. You don't have to pay Microsoft to use it because it is FREE. If you want more definitions of free I could point you in the direction of Richard Stallman but your head would probably explode. PS I use VMware vSphere at work which is great. We pay for it so it isn't FREE. I've had to ring for support quite a few times which is fine. However if I was running a small business I'd probably use the MS product, what with it being easy to use, oh and FREE.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Do you have a method to use Hyper-V Server 2012 that doesn't require any of the costs I mentioned? Or ESXi? Or Xen? Can you post details for us please? The article discusses the price to acquire the hypervisor (i.e. "free") but fails to recognize the larger truth: "Free" is always a gimmick. The only two things in the entire world that are actually free are air and love. Everything else is an add-on or bait for an add-on.

mark
mark

When you know all hypevisors (computers in general) require electricity and salarys to support them. The article was about the cost of PURCHASING THE HYPERVISOR not the electricity and salary. Too funny you split hairs to make a lame point.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

The point was (and remains) that "free" isn't really free if you think beyond the confines of the cost of acquisition, which you absolutely have to do because "acquisition cost" is only a small fraction of the true-cost of any IT project.

mark
mark

He did say that the new free hypervisor is more capable and you read into this that you dont need to know what your doing! I have been doing VMWare for years and can say your correct on your statements that being a VM admin is deeper than just knowing server OS's but in my opinion the best server admins know most if not all of the big picture already and then they become Virtualization Admins.

liverdonor
liverdonor

I know tom.marsh's rant may seem a bit harsh, but I'm here to tell ya, it's 100% correct. It's a lot like slapping Ubuntu Server on a box, connecting it to your network and then saying you're a sysadmin. There are literal tons of things that need to be adjusted and tinkered with in Hyper-V and bugger-all documentation to support 90% of it. Free or not, hypervisors are not something to jump into lightly - any potential SAs who want to set this up in their company should definitely do their homework first.