For those who have been working with Microsoft Virtualization platform, the free enterprise grade hypervisor is a valuable product for running VMs on the fly. The new version of Hyper-V Server has number of advantages compared to it’s predecessor. If you take a look at the features of Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V role installed vs. free hypervisor there is no difference. That is all the features are exact same.
Now lets focus on why you should use the Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 for you virtualization platform.
YES it’s free as in FREE BEER (the product). You’ll need to license only the VMs. If you are a developer or an IT PRO who just needs a host to run you test lab this is it.
Shared VHDX storage
Hyper-V 2012 R2 is capable of clustering virtual machines using shared virtual hard disk (VHDX) files. I you need high availability in your private cloud deployment for large workloads this feature enables multiple VMs to access the same same virtual hard disk (VHDX) file, providing Windows Failover Clustering. VHDX files can be stored in CSV or SMB 3.0 Scale-out file server shares. This is a new feature with this release.
GEN 2 VMs
2012 R2 provides two different platforms for your VMs. Generation 1 VMs provides the same virtual hardware as in previous versions of Hyper-V while Generation 2 VMs provide new functionality such as,
- Secure Boot (enabled by default)
- Boot from a SCSI virtual hard disk
- Boot from a SCSI virtual DVD
- PXE boot by using a standard network adapter
- UEFI firmware support
Important fact is that IDE drives and legacy network adapter support along with legacy hardware support has been removed in Generation 2 VMs. This way the boot up time for a typical VM has been increased by 90%. Not all Guest OS are supported in this architecture (only Windows Server 2012/2012 R2, Windows 8/8.1 x64 versions are supported). You can choose what generation of a VM you’ll need in the New VM creation wizard and once created you can’t change the generation of a VM.
Enhanced Session Mode
Hyper-V now allows you to use your local resources such as Display configuration, Audio, Printers, Clipboard, Smart cards, Drives, USB devices and Supported Plug and Play devices to be redirected to a Virtual Machine Connection session. Yet again this feature only supports Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 client.
Storage Quality of Service
This enables you to specify the maximum and minimum I/O operations per second (IOPS) for each virtual disk in your virtual machines. This way you have a guarantee that one VHD doesn’t impact the performance of another on the same host.
You can download the free Hypervisor from here. If you are new to virtualization with Microsoft you can have an idea about what it is by going through the below TechNet article.
The era of physical machines has come to an end. Therefore get yourself familiarize with the virtualization before you become a LEGACY SysAdmin.
P.S Following is an interesting video about what’s new in Hyper-V 2012 R2 presented at TechEd 2013 North America featuring Rick Claus and Benjamin Armstrong.