Windows Hyper-V is certainly one theme that makes a fuss in the IT world. The new technologies, performance and possibilities to come are something that just leaves you speechless. The release date is set in the year 2008, and the first beta version was released somewhere in the late 2007. The beta version of the Hyper-V was integrated together with the Microsoft Windows 2008 Server, in the February 2008, and 4 month later through windows update it was upgraded to the final version. There was a bit of confusing discussions in the IT circles about the Hyper-V as Microsoft announced two versions of Hyper-V. One of them is with the Windows Server 2008, and the other should be sold as a separate, standalone product. The standalone product is now known as Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 but we will talk about it later a bit. Not to drag around too much let’s start with the main and most asked question about the Hyper-V which comes with the Windows 2008 Server:
What is Microsoft’s Hyper-V?
In short it is a new technology that will revolutionize virtualization on multiple OS-s, and make it easier to manage multiple hosts with different OS. Basically it is made for everyone and anyone, from large firms to little entrepreneurs, and even to mortals (users) which need it is small scales. The application for the Hyper-V is used to make life easier for the users that needed to have multiple virtual OS, under one host system. Software-based virtualized PC environments–or virtual machines (VMs)–are often referred to as guest PCs, though Hyper-V introduces slightly different naming conventions, which I’ll explain in just a bit. Hyper-V is Microsoft’s new server virtualization technology and it allows the virtualization of multiple Windows- and none Windows operating systems on a single server and fully leverage the power of x64 computing. The greatest advantage of having such an environment is its ability to adapt the required conditions. Virtual management has much more options that allow key features control, unlike the standard physical machines. Centralized management is one of them, but the one that counts the most is the performance changer ability which can be done on the fly. This means that there mustn’t be any major shutdowns, but only adapt the conditions by adding and removing virtual processors for individual virtual machines as needed, increasing or throttling back performance. In the case that a guest wants their hardware configurations changed, they only need to log off until the change has been made to have the wanted effect and log on again. Until couple of years ago, the mainstream virtualization market has been dominated by VMWare, which offers a broad and mature virtualization product line. Microsoft tried to compete against their domination on the market with addition of the Virtual Server under the Windows Server edition; it just couldn’t get near the performance and the abilities that the VMWare was offering at that time. Now, for the first time, a real competitor for the VMWare has surfaced in the form of Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Hyper-V is now normally a standard addition to the Windows Server 2008, but it doesn’t have to be. A condition that must be fulfilled for the Hyper-V is that the architecture of the OS must x64. Hyper-V injects itself between the operating system and the hardware in a way that makes a Hyper-V-based Windows Server 2008 install quite different from a more traditional install. In that moment Hyper-V starts working as a Hypervisor.
Hypervisor is a very thin software layer that is less than 1 megabyte in size and separates the processor and all the parent and child partitions. What is great about this software is the very high level of security it gives. The Hypervisor supports every partition on the host machine, and creates a very secure ‘wall’ between the parent partition and the child partitions. That security lies in the fact that Hypervisor is a very small program (less than 1MB) and does not contain any drivers or third party code of the devices that could be used against it in a case of failure, which crashes the system but not entirely, at least not the important partitions. This kind of hypervisor is more known as Microkernelized hypervisor.
Amongst other things that are enhanced with Hyper-V, is the possibility of carrying forth compatibility with Microsoft’s older virtualization solutions. For example, the VHD (virtual hard disk) format that debuted years ago in Virtual PC work with both Virtual Server and Hyper-V, so you can move VMs between these environments and ensure a steady upgrade path. Other services that have shown themselves well in this, like the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) are updated to be able to work together with the Hyper-V technology, but what is the SCVMM? It is a server application in the Microsoft System Center family of products. SCVMM provides management of physical and Virtual machines, consolidation of underutilized physical servers and rapid provisioning of new Virtual Machines. Like previously said the release from the 2007 doesn’t support the Hyper-V technology, only new versions do. Hyper-V has many features, and here are some of them also explained some more some less depending on the relevance and influence on the environment:
– The first characteristic has been already mentioned and concerns the architecture of the Windows Server 2008, as Hyper-V can only work within the x64 architecture, but what’s not previously mentioned is that is must have also fitting CPU’s that support the hardware-assisted virtualization technology, to be precise the Intel VT or AMD-V processors.
– We are still going with the architecture of the OS-s, but to mention that Hyper-V can be run on both architectures x86 and x64, but only in the case of the Guest OS. As for the OS that can be:
o Windows Server 2008 SP1, SP2 and the RC2,
o Windows HPC Server 2008
o Windows Server 2003 x86/x64 SP2 & R2 SP2
o Windows 2000 Server SP4 and Advanced Server SP4
o Windows 7 (except Home editions)
o Windows Vista SP1/SP2 (except Home editions)
o Windows XP Professional SP2/SP3 & x64 SP2
o SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 & 11
o Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2/5.3/5.4 x86/x64
There are other terms you will definitely encounter with the Hyper-V technology that you should at least know about what they mean:
– Server Core installation is an option that you can use for installing Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V can be chose here as a full role within Windows Server 2008 or can be enabled as a role within Server Core. Basically it is more secure way of installation of an OS, because it doesn’t use standard GUI, but rather through command prompt. After the installation any necessary additional configuration is also done through the CMD or the terminal window.
– Server Manager is a new tool available with Windows Server 2008 that guides information technology administrators through the process of installing, configuring, and managing server roles and features that are part of Windows Server 2008.
– Hyper-V Manager is the new graphical interface that you use to control and configure every option that concerns the Hyper-V. It’s more of a basic tool for the beginners with some basic functions that concern the Virtual Hard Disk, Virtual Manager Virtual Network.
– Server Virtualization Management Pack enables you to monitor every component of the hosts Hyper-V and Virtual Machine including their health or a change that could effect on the performance.
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