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Virtualization with Hyper-V: Features

Hyper-V provides a reliable virtualization platform that enables customers to virtualize their infrastructure and reduce costs. It has thin microkernelized hypervisor architecture with minimal attack surface and is available as a Server Core role. With System Center integrated management tools, customers can use a single set of tools to manage both their physical and virtual resources. It easily plugs into customers’ IT infrastructure, as they can leverage their existing patching, provisioning, management and support tools, and processes. It provides great value, as it is available as a feature of Windows Server 2008 R2, and customers can leverage the breadth of solutions from Microsoft partners, existing IT Pro skill sets, and comprehensive support from Microsoft.

Hyper-V Architecture

Key Features of Hyper-V

Hyper-V as a part of Windows Server 2008 R2 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter) adds new features to the first version of Hyper-V. For example, by using live migration in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, you can migrate running virtual machines (VMs) from one physical computer to another and add or remove storage from a VM while it is running. In addition, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V takes better advantage of physical computer hardware with greater processor support and deeper support for physical computer hardware.

Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 includes five core areas of improvement for creating dynamic virtual data centers:

  • Increased availability for virtualized data centers

  • Improved management of virtualized data centers

  • Increased performance and hardware support for Hyper-V virtual machines

  • Improved virtual networking performance

  • Simplified method for physical and virtual computer deployments by using .vhd files

Increased Availability for Virtual Data Centers

One of the most important aspects of any data center is providing the highest possible availability for systems and applications. Virtual data centers are no exception to the need for consolidation, high availability, and, most of all, sophisticated management tools.

Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 includes the live migration feature, which allows you to move a virtual machine between two virtualization host servers without any interruption of service. The users connected to the virtual machine being moved might notice only a slight slowing in performance for a few moments. Otherwise, they will be unaware that the virtual machine was moved from one physical computer to another.

Improved Management of Virtual Data Centers

Even with all the efficiency gained from virtualization, virtual machines still need to be managed. The number of virtual machines tends to proliferate much faster than physical computers because machines typically do not require a hardware acquisition. Therefore, management of virtual data centers is even more imperative than ever before.

Increased Performance and Hardware Support for Hyper-V Virtual Machines

  • Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 now supports up to 64 logical processors in the host processor pool. This is a significant upgrade from previous versions and allows not only greater VM density per host, but also gives IT administrators more flexibility in assigning CPU resources to VMs.

  • Also new, Hyper-V processor compatibility mode for live migration allows lmigration across different CPU versions within the same processor family, (for example, ”Intel Core 2-to-Intel Pentium 4” or “AMD Opteron-to-AMD Athlon”) enabling migration across a broader range of server host hardware.

  • The new Hyper-V also adds performance enhancements that increase virtual machine performance and power consumption. Hyper-V now supports Second Level Address Translation (SLAT), which uses new features on today’s CPUs to improve VM performance while reducing processing load on the Windows Hypervisor and new Hyper-V VMs will also consume less power by virtue of the new Core Parking feature implemented into Windows Server 2008 R2.

Improved Virtual Networking Performance

The new Hyper-V leverages several new networking technologies contained in Windows Server 2008 R2 to improve overall VM networking performance. Two key examples are the new VM Chimney (also called TCP Offload) and the use of Jumbo Frames.

Simplified Method for Physical and Virtual Computer Deployments

Historically, different methods have been used to deploy operating systems and applications to physical and virtual computers. For virtual computers, the .vhd file format has become a de facto standard for deploying and interchanging preconfigured operating systems and applications. Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 supports two important updates concerning .vhd files.

First, administrators can now add and remove vhd files, and pass-through disks attached to a virtual SCSI controller on a running VM, without requiring a reboot. This offers more flexibility when it comes to handling storage growth needs without requiring additional downtime. It also provides more flexibility in data center backup scenarios and new scenarios in complex Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server deployments.

Windows Server 2008 R2 also supports the ability to boot a computer from a .vhd file stored on a local hard disk. This allows you to use preconfigured .vhd files for deploying virtual and physical computers. This helps reduce the number of images you need to manage and provides an easier method for test deployment prior to deployment in your production environment.

Key Features of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008

Hyper-V as a part of Windows Server 2008 R2 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter) and of x64 editions of Windows Server 2008 (Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter) includes the following capabilities: