Virtualization of servers, desktops, applications, and entire networks has revolutionized the datacenter by enabling high levels of hardware consolidation, fast deployment of IT resources and repurposing of equipment, improvements in fault tolerance and recoverability, and simplified management. In addition to cutting the costs of operating conventional datacenters, the latest improvements in virtualization technologies have also facilitated cloud computing based on a new generation of advanced multitenancy environments that securely isolate multiple workloads while pooling computing resources such as servers, memory, storage, and network infrastructure. Ultra-efficient resource utilization has made massive public clouds practical and private clouds economically feasible even for smaller enterprises. Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V incorporates significant enhancements to virtualization technology that offer compelling new options for businesses of any size to virtualize their datacenter.
Progent's Microsoft certified consultants can help you evaluate the potential benefits of Windows Server 2012 for your organization, design and deploy test systems. install and maintain production deployments, update your network to support local, multi-site, cloud-based, and hybrid datacenters, educate your network management and support staffs, evaluate you security policies and processes, streamline your network management, help you to design and develop cloud-based application software, provide senior project management expertise, and document and test a disaster recovery/business continuity plan.
Hyper-V Virtualization Enhancements in Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V advances the state of the art for virtualization in key areas including secure multitenancy, agile network infrastructure, expandability and performance, and fault tolerance.
The New Extensible Switch Feature of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Improves Security and Isolation
The new Extensible Switch capability included with Windows Server 2012 is a layer-2 virtual network switch that provides a programmable tool for defining and enforcing policy for connecting virtual machines (VMs) to the physical network. Isolation and security capabilities for Windows Server 2012 available via the Hyper-V Extensible Switch include:
Agile Network Infrastructure
- Private Virtual LANs (PVLANs): PVLANs can be used to isolate VMs located on the same VLAN by using Isolated, Promiscuous, or Community modes.
- Defense Against ARP/ND Poisoning and Spoofing: The Hyper-V Extensible Switch can prevent a malicious VM from using ARP spoofing to steal IP addresses from other VMs. In IPv4 this is referred to as ARP poisoning.
- DHCP Guard Protection: The Hyper-V Extensible Switch can prevent a malicious DHCP server from intercepting client DHCP requests and providing incorrect IP addresses that would reroute traffic.
- Virtual Port ACLs for Network Isolation and Metering: Port ACLs can be used to isolate networks and meter network traffic for a virtual port on the Hyper-V Extensible Switch.
- Trunk Mode to Virtual Machines: Traffic from multiple VLANs can be routed to a specified network adapter in a VM for consolidation and to allow a VM to monitor multiple VLANs for traffic shaping or enforcing multitenant security.
- Monitoring: The Hyper-V Extensible Switch can be used for port mirroring and allows you to run security applications and diagnostics applications in VMs for monitoring virtual machine network traffic.
- Windows PowerShell and WMI: Windows Server 2012 provides more than 140 cmdlets for the Hyper-V Extensible Switch, allowing you to create command-line and automated scripts for handling common administrative functions such as creating VMs, importing/exporting VMs, and connecting a virtual network adaptor.
Windows Server 2012 offers a multitude of new or enhanced capabilities that provide IT managers great flexibility in designing and managing virtualized datacenters or integrating on-premises datacenters with private or public clouds. These features include:
Expandability and Performance
- Network Virtualization: GRE tunneling and a policy management server allow you to install multiple virtual networks, even with overlapping IP addresses, on the same physical network without requiring VLANs.
- Zero-downtime Virtual Machines Migration: Live migration now allows quick and transparent movement of running virtual machines between physical hosts inside or outside a clustered environment .
- Zero-downtime Virtual Machine Storage Relocation: Live storage migration allows you to avoid downtime when you move virtual hard disks attached to a running VM.
- Import Virtual Machines: A new Import Wizard allows you to import a VM without first exporting it and identifies and resolves a variety of common compatibility issues that might exist when you import a VM to a different host.
- Merge Snapshots: The Live Merge feature of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V permits you to merge snapshots into the VM parent while the server is still running, reducing disruption when returning a VM to a previous state.
- New Automated Management: Windows Server 2012 makes it possible to automate Hyper-V management tasks with the popular PowerShell utility rather than exclusively with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), which is unfamiliar to many datacenter administrators.
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V features major enhancements in scalability and performance, making it well suited for supporting multitenant cloud environments and for handling resource-intensive, mission-critical workloads such as online transaction processing (OLTP) databases and online transaction analysis (OLTA). New or improved features include:
Availability and Disaster Recovery
- More Resources for Virtual Machine Host: Compared to Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 supports 320 vs. 64 logical processors per host, 4 TB vs.1 TB of RAM, and 2,048 vs.512 virtual processors.
- More Resources for Each Virtual Machine: Compared to Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 supports 64 vs. 4 virtual processors per VM, 1 TB vs. 64 GB of memory, and 1,024 vs. 384 active VMs per server.
- More Resources for Failover Clusters: Compared to Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 supports 64 vs. 16 nodes per failover cluster and 8,000 vs. 1,000 VMs.
- NUMA support in a VM: Projecting a virtual NUMA topology into a VM allows guest operating systems and applications to take advantage of their inherent NUMA performance optimizations by accessing directly-attached memory.
- Support for SR-IOV Networking Devices: By allowing SR-IOV–capable devices to be assigned directly to a VM, Hyper-V improves network throughput, reduces latency, and reduces host CPU overhead required for processing network traffic.
- Dynamic Memory Enhancements: Because Startup Memory is usually greater than the memory required to continue running a VM, Hyper-V Dynamic Memory introduced a new Minimum Memory parameter that allows Hyper-V to reclaim unused memory from VMs, permitting improved consolidation.
- Smart Paging: VMs configured with less Minimum Memory than Startup Memory can use disk storage as temporary memory when additional memory is required for a restart.
- Resource Metering: Resource pools allow providers to aggregate usage data in multitenant environments where each customer or business unit may have multiple VMs, facilitating functions such as capacity planning, monitoring resource consumption, or usage-based billing.
- Virtual Hard Disk Format (VHDX): VHDX supports virtual hard disk storage capacity of 64TB, far more than earlier VHD formats, offers better data protection during power outages, and provides more efficient structure alignment of the virtual hard disk format to accommodate large-sector disks.
- Offloaded Data Transfer: When used with offload-capable SAN storage devices, ODX makes it possible to copy large files without the main processor of the Hyper-V host being required to read and write the content between storage locations, delivering near-native performance for VM disk operations.
- Data Center Bridging (DCB): Hyper-V makes it easy to manage DCB-capable hardware to converge multiple types of network traffic (such as network, storage, management, and live migration traffic) on a single network adapter with a maximum level of service to each traffic flow.
- Virtual Fibre Channel: Hyper-V improves performance and availability by presenting Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) ports within the guest operating system, allowing VMs to connect directly to Fibre Channel while supporting related features such as NPIV, virtual SANs, Live Migration, and Microsoft MultiPath I/O (MPIO).
- Support for 4 KB Disk Sectors: To keep pace with the storage industry and to provide increased capacity and reliability, Hyper-V supports 512-byte emulation drives (512e) and 4 KB disk sectors in virtual disks.
- Quality of Service (QoS) Minimum Bandwidth: To improve performance, Hyper-V allows administrators to assign VMs or services a minimum bandwidth for different types of traffic, making it possible to optimize the number of VMs on Hyper-V servers and meet required service levels.
As virtualization density increases in cloud environments, high-availability and fast disaster recovery becomes more critical. Windows Server 2012 offers important improvements in the areas of fault tolerance and recoverability. These include:
- Incremental Backup: Prior to Windows Server 2012, Windows Server included built-in support only for full file backups. With incremental backups, only the differences are backed up, reducing bandwidth and storage costs and making it practical to back up more often.
- Hyper-V Replica: This new feature allows you to replicate VMs over a network link from one Hyper-V host at a primary site to another Hyper-V host at a Replica site without having to depend on storage arrays or third-party replication products.
- NIC Teaming: NIC Teaming allows a VM to have virtual network adapters connected to multiple virtual switches and retain connectivity even if the network adapter under that virtual switch is disconnected. This improves network fault tolerance on physical servers and virtual machines.
- Clustering via Fibre Channel: Virtual Fibre Channel adapters within the VM give workloads access to SAN storage via Fibre Channel fabric. You can also cluster guest operating systems over Fibre Channel providing HA for workloads within virtual machines and use Windows MPIO for high-availability and load balancing.
- Live Migration Enhancements: Live migrations can use more available network bandwidth, increasing the speed of Live Migration and allowing unlimited concurrent Live Migrations. In addition, Hyper-V 3.0 supports multiple concurrent Live Migrations with no limits to the number of concurrent Live Migrations that can take place.
- Shared Nothing Live Migration makes it possible to move a VM seamlessly between physical servers that have direct-attached storage, eliminating the need for expensive SAN solutions for processes such as system maintenance and making zero-downtime migrations affordable even for small organizations
- Massive Scale: Support for as many as 64 nodes and 4,000 VMs per cluster.
- Encrypted Cluster Volumes: Cluster disks encrypted with BitLocker provide strong protection against data leaks.
- Cluster Shared Volume 2.0: CSV now works with storage filter drivers including ones available from third-party anti-virus, data protection, backup, and storage replication software products.
- VM Failover Prioritization: This allows you to configure VM priorities to determine the order in which specific VMs fail over or start.
- Affinity and Anti-affinity VM Rules: Administrators can configure partnered VMs to cause them to be migrated simultaneously. Conversely, administrators can prevent two specific VMs from migrating to the same node in the event of a failover.
- File Server Transparent Failover: Administrators can easily perform maintenance on nodes in a File Server cluster by moving file shares between nodes with minimal interruption to server applications storing data on these file shares.
For a discussion of technical enhancements and innovations available with Windows Server 2012 in addition to Hyper-V, see Windows Server 2012 Integration and Support.
How Progent Can Help You with Windows Server 2012
Progent can provide a comprehensive array of affordable consulting, project management, and troubleshooting services to assist organization of all sizes to optimize the business value of their Windows Server 2012 deployment. Progent offers cost-effective Chief Information Officer services to provide a high-level perspective on the business benefits and technical challenges associated with Windows Server 2012, and Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can show you how to design test systems for Windows Server 2012 to assess Windows Server 2012's ability to support your existing applications and your expected growth. Progent's project management consultants can help you plan and carry out an efficient migration to Windows Server 2012 that minimizes disruption, and Progent's disaster recovery specialists and business continuity planners can help you design, document, and test a DR/BC plan. To help you optimize the availability of your critical applications, Progent offers Windows Server 2012 failover clustering consulting.
Progent's Hyper-V consultants can help your company take advantage of Windows Server 2012 to deploy virtual servers, desktops, and applications to reduce IT expenses and improve productivity. Progent also offers remote network monitoring services for round-the-clock monitoring, automatic alerts and remediation, and extensive reporting on your network's overall health and performance trends. Progent's cloud experts can explain the potential benefits of cloud-based IT solutions and can help you design a private cloud, set up fault-tolerant connections to a public cloud, or integrate your physical datacenter with select cloud-based services to get the best of both worlds. Progent's certified Windows 8.1 integration consultants can help you migrate smoothly to Windows 8.1 desktops and workstations so as to take advantage of the synergies between Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.1. If you intend to carry out a migration to Windows 10, you should update to Windows Server 2012 R2.
If you are considering an upgrade from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2, find out about Progent's Windows Server 2012 R2 upgrade support services.
If you plan on building a hybrid network archtecture that integrates on-premises resources with public cloud services like those offered by Microsoft Azure, Progent can help you evaluate and deploy Windows Server 2016, which incorporates major elements of Azure technology and is designed to support hybrid networks. See Progent's Windows Server 2016 hybrid cloud solutions.
Progent maintains one of the largest teams of high-level Cisco CCIE-certified network engineers of any independent IT services firm in the U.S., and Progent can assist your organization to optimize your network infrastructure to support the new and enhanced capabilities of Windows Server 2012. Progent also offers the expertise of CISM, CISA, GIAC, and ISSAP-certified network security consultants who can help you test and verify the security and compliance of your environment, improve your security policies and procedures, and automate security management.
Progent's Remote Technical Support and Consulting Services
Progent is a pioneer in providing online consulting and troubleshooting services and has successfully delivered remote technical support to businesses in every state in the U.S. (Refer to Progent's Customer Testimonials.) Online consulting and support eliminates the wasted time and expense associated with travel and is the most cost-effective to resolve the vast majority of network issues.
If you need immediate remote help from a certified engineer, see Progent's Online Technical Support.
Contact Progent for Help with Windows Server 2008 R2
To find out more about Progent's consulting and support services for Windows Server 2012, call 1-800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.