Now that Windows 8 is released, I have had some time to play with it. Like most R&D folks, the nature of my job requires me to have a lot of disparate environments, especially in a test and development kind of setup. Virtualization lends itself very well to offer this kind of a test setup on client operating systems like Windows 7. While Virtual PC has been an option in Windows environments, it never came close to the robustness and ease of use of its competition – VMware Workstation and Player. I have always liked Hyper-V as a hypervisor, but what Microsoft brought to the table with Windows Server 2012 / Hyper-V Server 2012 is game changing. It is robust and its simplicity is going to drive a very adoption rate within the Microsoft ecosystem. So when I read that Windows 8 is going to have a client version of Hyper-V, I was very excited.
After configuring the client Hyper-V feature on Windows 8, I setup my test lab and was happy as a clam to see if work flawlessly on my workstation. But it is important to backup the test environment so that I do not have to recreate it if there is a system failure. I am very well versed with the backup infrastructure on Microsoft and when I tried to enumerate the VSS writers on the system, much to my dismay, the Hyper-V writer did not show up. Now that threw me away. Backup vendors that rely on host based backups of Hyper-V will have no way to protect the virtual machines since the VSS Hyper-V writer does not exist.
Thankfully, Unitrends is designed to be scalable, with a unified agent and agentless architecture. I simply installed the appropriate OS agents inside the virtual machines and treated them as physical machines, protecting all my data (including applications) within the guest operating system. When selecting a backup product for Hyper-V, it is important to make sure that the product can scale in situations like the one above.