Hyper-V 3.0, the virtualization platform included with Windows Server 2012, offers a wealth of enhancements over the Windows Server 2008 R2 version of Hyper-V. These enhancements facilitate the deployment and management of virtual servers and storage, delivering enterprise-class capabilities that are well within the budgets of small and mid-size companies. Areas of improvement over previous releases of Hyper-V include more secure multitenancy, more flexible infrastructure, increased capacity and performance, easier manageability, improved cloud readiness, and higher availability. Windows Server 2012 R2 incorporates additional improvements to Hyper-V, dramatically enhancing and system resilience and Live Migration performance.
Progent's Microsoft-certified consultants can help you understand the value of Hyper-V for your information network, set up test environments to streamline your migration to Hyper-V and verify the ability of Hyper-V to handle your workloads, design a Hyper-V solution that optimizes performance while minimizing costs, install and configure Hyper-V virtual machines that are secure and easy to maintain, show you how to utilize Hyper-V to reduce both planned and unplanned downtime, train your IT staff to manage your virtual environment, and provide ongoing remote and onsite support when you need it.
Shared Nothing Live Migration Eliminates Downtime for Scheduled Maintenance
One of the headline enhancements in Hyper-V 3.0 that can improve productivity for smaller organizations is "shared nothing live migration." This feature makes it possible to move a virtual machine (VM) non-disruptively from a physical host that has low-cost attached storage to a different physical host that also has attached storage. Live migration previously required Storage Area Networks (SANs), which are too costly to acquire and too complex to manage for most small businesses. Shared nothing live migration can take time to execute, because the source disk must be copied and then synchronized. This makes shared nothing live migration inappropriate for disaster recovery scenarios. However, this feature is an excellent, cost-effective way to eliminate the downtime associated with scheduled server maintenance, which is a major cause of workload unavailability for smaller companies.
New and Improved Features of Hyper-V 3.0
Hyper-V 3.0 features important enhancements over Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V including improved workload isolation in cloud or hybrid environments, more options for adding and moving servers, increased capacity and performance, and higher availability. Notable improvements in these areas include:
Better Workload Isolation
Windows Server 2012 offers workload isolation at the network layer to provide a high level of security for cloud or service environments that allow multiple groups to share basic network resources (known as multitenancy). New Hyper-V 3.0 features that are not supported in earlier versions of Hyper-V include:
More Options for Adding and Moving Servers
- Private virtual local area networks (PVLANs) allow managers to isolate VMs from each other without losing external network access for all VMs
- DHCP guard protects against unauthorized VMs acting as DHCP servers
- Router guard protects against unauthorized VMs acting as routers
- Hyper-V Extensible Switch is a Layer 2 virtual network switch that provides an open platform for plug-ins and offers unified control, simpler support, and free basic services for third-party extensions
- Extension monitoring allows monitoring and filtering extensions to collect statistics on traffic entering and leaving the Hyper-V Extensible Switch
- Extension uniqueness improves security by ensuring that extension state/configuration is unique to instances of Hyper-V Extensible Switch on a VM
- Extensions that learn the workload life cycle of VMs can learn the flow of network traffic in order to optimize virtual network performance
- Extensions that prohibit state changes can identify and stop harmful state changes and allow the initiation of monitoring and security features
- Multiple extensions on the same switch save money and allow more control and enhanced security
Enhancements to Hyper-V 3.0 make it easier and quicker for datacenter administrators to add or move servers. New Hyper-V 3.0 features that are not supported in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V include:
Increased Capacity and Performance
- Network virtualization (as opposed to server virtualization) allows a VM to be moved to any node, even across the cloud, regardless of IP address
- IP address rewrite eliminates the need to upgrade network adapters, switches, or appliances by mapping each VM customer address (CA) to a unique host provider address (PA)
- Generic Routing Encapsulation uses Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) IP packets to map a virtual to a physical network, improving performance by reducing the workload on network switches
- Simultaneous live migration allows you to move multiple VMs concurrently across cluster boundaries and between stand-alone non-clustered servers
- Live storage migration allows you to move virtual hard disks attached to a VM without having to turn off the VM during the merge operation
- Merging snapshots allows you to merge snapshots back into the VM without requiring the VM to be turned off during the merge operation
- PowerShell Automation support for Hyper-V includes more than 150 built-in Hyper-V cmdlets for Microsoft Windows PowerShell, eliminating the need to have access to a developer who is familiar with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)
Hyper-V 3.0 is designed to take advantage of the latest server, network, and storage hardware to provide greater capacity and performance. These enhancements include:
- Expanded capacity for Hyper-V 3.0 compared to Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V includes up to 320 vs. 64 logical processors on hardware, 4 TB vs. 1 TB of physical memory, 64 vs. 4 virtual processors, 1 TB vs. 64 GB of memory on a virtual machine, 64 vs. 16 nodes, and 8,000 vs. 1,000 virtual machines in a cluster.
- NUMA support within large VMs provides enhanced performance by allowing the host OS and applications to access local memory faster than remote memory.
- Support for SR-IOV-capable network adapters increases network throughput by reducing network latency and host processor overhead
- Reclamation of unused memory from VMs with a minimum memory value lower than their startup value significantly improves virtual machine density in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments
- Hyper-V smart paging allows VMs to continue running after they have used up their physical memory
- Runtime memory configuration allows you to reconfigure Dynamic Memory while a VM is still running without affecting other VMs
- Resource Metering allows Hyper-V to track and report on resources used by processor, memory, storage, and the network based on IP address or VM
- Virtual hard disk format (VHDX) supports up to 64 TB of storage, avoids data corruption resulting from power loss by logging updates, and optimizes performance on large-sector disks through structure alignment
- Offloaded data transfer support allows Hyper-V to use SAN copy offload to copy large amounts of data from one location to another in order to reduce CPU overhead and provide fast VM provisioning and migration
- Data Center Bridging (DCB) allows Hyper-V to use DCB-capable devices to merge different classes of network traffic onto a single adapter in order to cut the hardware costs and reduce the management overhead associated with handling separate traffic for network, management, live migration, and storage
- Virtual Fibre Channel in Hyper-V allows Fibre Channel to connect directly from within a virtual machine's guest operating system
- Multipath I/O (MPIO) for Fibre Channel improves the availability of access to Fibre Channel storage within a VM
- Support for 4 KB disk sectors in Hyper-V virtual hard disks improves capacity and dependability and reduces the impact of 512e disks on the virtual hard disk stack
- Quality of Service (QoS) minimum bandwidth reduces the need for high-cost network adapters for specifying bandwidths for different classes of traffic in order to deliver more predictable network performance to VMs
Hyper-V 3.0 provides a variety of enhancements that can improve network and workload availability by eliminating single-point failures, reducing the need for scheduled downtime to perform maintenance, and minimizing recovery time in case of a catastrophic failure due to human or natural disaster. Improvements in availability include:
Hyper-V Enhancements in Windows Server 2012 R2
- Live incremental backup of virtual hard disks utilizes difference-only backup to conserve network bandwidth and save disk space
- Hyper-V Replica performs multi-site asynchronous VM replication to provide disaster recovery within minutes with little or no data loss
- NIC Teaming for load balancing and failover (LBFO) provides integrated support for connecting up to 32 virtual network adapters to multiple virtual switches to protect against network failure
- Guest clustering makes it possible to connect Fibre Channel directly from within VMs
- BitLocker-encrypted cluster volumes enhance security for deployments outside the datacenter or in the cloud
- Simultaneous live migration allows you to move multiple VMs concurrently, even across cluster boundaries and between stand-alone non-clustered servers
- Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) 2.0 has the built-in ability to integrate with storage arrays for replication and hardware snapshots in order to simplify VM management, strengthen security, and enhance performance
- Application monitoring can track the health of critical VM services and automatically launches remedial activity such as restarting a VM or moving a VM to a different server
- Live migration queuing allows managers to save time by queuing live migrations of multiple VMs
- Virtual machine failover prioritization allows lower priority VMs automatically to release resources required by higher priority VMs at failover
- Affinity VM rules allow managers to configure partnered VMs for simultaneous migrations at failover
- Anti-affinity VM rules enable managers to block two specified VMs from residing on the same node at failover
A major improvement to Hyper-V introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2 is the Tertiary Replica Site. This gives network managers the ability to copy a VM to an additional Hyper-V host server which can be located anywhere. You can also specify how often changes on the running VM are copied to the secondary and tertiary backup sites. Interval options are 15 minutes, 5 minutes, or 30 seconds. Because full recovery from a downed site takes only minutes, you can avoid serious loss of productivity even in the event of a widespread disaster. Better yet, Hyper-V Replica can run asynchronously over an ordinary broadband connection, saving the cost of a dedicated high-speed connection that was traditionally required for enterprise-level disaster recovery.
Other improvements to Hyper-V incorporated into Windows Server 2012 R2 include:
How Progent Can Help You with Hyper-V 3.0 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V
- Virtual Machine Live Cloning: You can run a Live Clone while a Virtual Machine is still operating. This allows you to export any problematic files to another location so you can analyze and resolve issues without incurring downtime. You can also create a new Virtual Machine from a snapshot without downtime. This feature allows you to resolve issues related to untested applications or patches and enables non-disruptive maintenance of key applications.
- Virtual Receive-side Scaling (vRSS): This feature was introduced by Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and is designed to distribute network traffic processing among multiple cores on the host and the VM. If a VM becomes a traffic bottleneck because it has too much of a load for a single core CPU, vRSS allows the traffic processing load to be shared and can deliver as much as twice the throughput without the need for updating your network infrastructure.
- Faster Live Migration: Through VM compression and by leveraging the multichannel capabilities of SMB 3.0 (which requires network adapters that support RDMA), Live Migration performance can be improved by as much as a factor of 10.
- Cross-Version Live Migration: Before the release of Windows Server 2012 R2, administrators had to shut down key workloads in order to upgrade to new version of Windows Server so they could export and import virtual machines. With Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V this is no long necessary, making an upgrade faster, easier, and less disruptive. Cross-Version Live Migration allows you to upgrade from standalone or clustered hosts and lets you manage and automate the upgrade process with PowerShell.
- Enhanced Failover Clustering: Hyper-V Failover Clustering can now sense and resolve network connectivity failures for virtual machines. If a VM's physical network has a problem such as a broken switch port or a disconnected network cable, the Failover Cluster can automatically assign the virtual machine to another node in the cluster for uninterrupted operation.
- Shared VHDX files: You can share a virtual hard disk (VHDX) file with multiple VMs. This feature provides the shared storage required for a guest failover cluster and allows VHDX file sharing without subjecting your system to the security issues associated with exposing the topology of your storage. VHDX file sharing makes it possible for users can share important resources such as SQL Server databases and file server services running on a VM.
- Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA): This new Hyper-V feature enables administrators to deploy virtual machines without being required to manage the product key for each individual VM or read ID stickers on individual servers. AVMA binds virtual machine activation to its licensed server and automatically activates the virtual machine when it starts. Administrators can activate off-premises virtual machine in remote locations and use the virtualization server to keep track of VM usage and licenses without having to have access rights on the virtual machine. The VM can also be activated and continues to run when it is migrated across an array of virtualization servers.
- Enhanced Linux support: Hyper-V's expanded support for Linux includes the synthetic 2D frame buffer driver for faster Linux graphics, dynamic memory support to enable higher per-host virtual machine density for Linux guests, and Live Virtual Machine Backup Support to improve the availability of Linux applications and simplify management.
Progent's Microsoft-certified Windows Server 2012 R2 consultants can help you with all aspects of evaluating, testing, deploying, optimizing, and supporting Hyper-V. Progent can help you upgrade to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V from earlier Hyper-V releases or from other virtualization platforms, and Progent's Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V consultants can help you plan and carry out an efficient migration to Hyper-V 2016. Progent can design and manage pilot deployments to help you assess the suitability of Hyper-V for your workloads and determine the business value of Hyper-V in your environment. In addition, Progent can provide Windows 8.1 expertise or Windows 10 migration help along with integration support for Client Hyper-V, which is included with Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
Progent's System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager consulting services can help you create and manage private clouds that incorporate Hyper-V virtualization technology.
Progent's disaster recovery consultants and business continuity planning experts can help you create and test a comprehensive DR/BC plan that incorporates Hyper-V technology. To improve fault tolerance and facilitate disaster recovery, Progent offers failover clustering consulting for Windows Server 2012 R2. In addition, Progent's network security engineers can help you establish and verify the compliance of your virtualized environment with government and industry data security requirements,
Progent's Online Consulting and Troubleshooting Services
Progent is a pioneer in providing online consulting and technical help and has provided remote consulting services to IT businesses in every state in the United States. (Refer to Progent's Customer Testimonials.) Online support eliminates the expense and delays related to travel and is the most affordable and quickest way to resolve most network issues. If you need or prefer on-premises support, Progent can promptly dispatch a IT certified consultant to datacenters in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S.
If you need immediate online support from a Microsoft-certified consultant, visit Progent's Online Support Services.
To find out more about how Progent's virtual server consulting professionals can help you with Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V technology, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.