Windows Server

Microsoft responds to VMware's free hypervisor

The fierce battle for the virtualization space continues as Microsoft fires back with a free hypervisor of its own called Hyper-V Server 2008. Learn more about the details of Microsoft's free hypervisor.

The fierce battle for the virtualization space continues as Microsoft fires back with a free hypervisor of its own called Hyper-V Server 2008. Learn more about the details of Microsoft's free hypervisor.

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Microsoft responds to VMware's free ESXi hypervisor with a free version of their own called Hyper-V Server 2008. I am currently downloading the standalone Hyper-V package; it is about 1 GB in size.

How does it work?

Basically, the hypervisor installs with bare bones to provide a virtual experience. If you want to manage the system, you would need to download the free tools for Windows Vista or System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

The system requirements are as follows:

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows Server 2008
  • Note: Hyper-V Server 2008 is a 64-bit only technology and requires 64-bit capable hardware with Intel VT or AMD-V technology enabled.
  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4, Xeon, Core 2 DUO processor; AMD Opteron, Athlon 64, Athlon X2. Hardware Data Execution Protection (DEP) must be available and be enabled. Specifically, you must enable Intel XD bit (execute disable bit) or AMD NX bit (no execute bit).
  • Minimum CPU speed : 1 GHz; recommended: 2 GHz or faster
  • RAM : Minimum: 1 GB RAM; recommended: 2+ GB RAM; maximum 32 GB
  • Required available disk space: 2GB of available hard disk space (additional disk space needed for each guest operating system)

Microsoft states:

"Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 is a stand-alone product that provides a simplified, reliable, cost-effective and optimized virtualization solution enabling organizations to improve server utilization and reduce costs. It allows organizations to consolidate workloads onto a single physical server and is a good solution for organizations who want a basic and simplified virtualization solution for consolidating servers as well as for development and test environments. Low utilization infrastructure workloads, departmental applications and simple branch office workloads are also candidates to virtualize using Hyper-V Server 2008. Hyper-V Server 2008 is a cost-effective solution that is convenient because it plugs into existing IT infrastructures enabling companies to reduce costs, improve utilization and provision new servers. It allows IT professionals to leverage existing patching, provisioning, management and support tools and processes. IT Professionals can continue to leverage their individual skills and the collective knowledge of Microsoft tools, minimizing the learning curve to manage Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008. In addition, with Microsoft providing comprehensive support for Microsoft applications and heterogeneous guest operating systems support, customers can virtualize with confidence and peace of mind.

To obtain a license for Microsoft Hyper-V Server, you must:

  1. Review the Microsoft Hyper-V Server license terms .
  2. Print and retain a copy of the Microsoft Hyper-V Server license terms for your records.
  3. Accept the license terms. By downloading, installing, or using Microsoft Hyper-V Server, you agree to accept the license terms. If you do not agree to the license terms, do not use the software.

For more Information, see the following: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 Configuration Guide or the Micrsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 Web site. In the meantime, once this download completes, I will dig in a little deeper.

10 comments
me19562
me19562

Microsoft will get some users, but the free version of Hyper-V still require a licensed version of Windows Server 2008 while VMware ESX3i does not require any investment in software just hardware.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

Hyper V Server 2008 does not require a licensed version of Windows Server 2008. It is a barebones hypervisor. If you want further enhancements such as high availability, you would have to upgrade. See, http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/default.mspx for a graph of what Hyper V Server has to offer. You do need a license for each Windows vm you use but you would need a license for a windows vm in ESX3i as well.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

I should have clarified that I do support memory overcommitment in test/dev as stated in my posts but I believe it is a ticking time bomb in production.

me19562
me19562

Actually I don't agree with you. Memory overcommitment could be a very useful feature in the test and development environment like your posts mention. Specially if hardware is limited for the test environment. Indeed the use of the memory overcommitment in an enterprise production environment could create a negative impact in performance and services. I believe that this feature is oriented to the service provider market, since overcommitment is regular practice in this market.

me19562
me19562

Something else to consider that ESX3i supports 8 physical cpu(32 logical) and 256GB of RAM compare to Hyper-V 4 physical cpu(16 logical) and 32GB RAM. Also ESX3i supports overcommitment of RAM. Hyper-V will the alternative for Windows only shops. ESX3i can support more VM's and provides better scalability, just need to add the right license.

O & G IT Guy
O & G IT Guy

While I like to get everything done as quickly and efficiently as possible, I am not sure that the install time between ESX and Hyper-V is really a factor for us (we are a VMWare shop at this time). We don't add that many new virtual hosts in relation to the number of virtual guests. So even it it takes 4x as long to install Hyper-V (and I have NO knowledge of actual install time) that time will quickly get depreciated as long as the time to manage/implement/maintain new guests is comparable. So if ESX took 30 minutes to install and Hyper-V took 2 hours, over the life of that virtual host (2 to 3 years) the different is trivial.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

You got it. It takes twice as much time to get hyper-v up and running. Thanks for reading and your input.

me19562
me19562

Yeah, you are right. It will be interesting you see how many will people prefer Hyper-V instead of ESXi. I believe that ESXi still has some advantages over Hyper-V. I believe ESXi should much easier and faster to install. Also I don't know how much the Remote Management will affect on the decision of going with Hyper-V if a company does not have at least a Windows Server 2008 or a Windows Vista SP1. Based on the System Requirements: Remote Management Hyper-V Server requires a second system for remote management running: Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V Manager MMC Windows Vista SP1 with the Hyper-V Manager MMC Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Still is a good thing because VMware is not alone in the market anymore. I believe the one to watch is XEN. The new XEN 5 seems to have basically all the ESX 3.5 features but with a better management implementation.

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