Windows Server 8 isn’t available for mainstream consumption yet, but its features have been announced. I got a chance to see some of the early access features of Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V (R3 for this platform), and my reaction is “wow!” Hyper-V is moving quickly in the virtualization market, even without centralized management with System Center.
Windows Server 8’s Hyper-V role will support a number of increased configuration maximums. A virtual machine (VM) can now be assigned 32 virtual symmetric multiprocessors (vSMPs), which is on par with VMware vSphere 5 for vSMP assignment. While I’m not in the business of picking a favorite between the two, the upper boundaries of scale seem to always be a point of contention. On the virtual memory side, it is not quite there yet. Hyper-V with Windows Server 8 will support assigning a VM up to 512 GB of memory compared to the 1 TB of memory that can be done with vSphere 5.
Hyper-V on Windows Server 8 also introduces support of guest NUMA, a very important feature that allows hosts to scale up the number of cores and memory access into nodes. By arranging these nodes efficiently, it saves in unnecessary traversal from processor core to memory allocation. Guest NUMA aligns the inventory of the VM to the physical resources on a host (Figure A).
While the additional features increase the capabilities of a Hyper-V VM, VMs with even 512 GB of RAM don’t appeal to me; I prefer to invest in time with the stakeholders to change the application rather than allow this beast of a workload into my virtual environment. The same goes for a physical machine — I don’t want to support jumbo workloads. I recommend exploring every available opportunity before admitting something like that into a virtualization infrastructure (though I realize this isn’t always an option) because that workload becomes an anomaly in terms of management, backups, migration, storage, etc.
Do the increased capabilities for Hyper-V on Windows Server 8 appeal to you? Let us know in the discussion.