Hyper-V has flown under the radar since its release in 2008. VMware was and still holds the lion’s share of the virtualization market. Hyper-V as a product was still in its infancy to prove itself to the enterprise. Hyper-V’s feature set fell short of setting the virtualization space ablaze due to various limitations, most notably:
- Maximum allocation of only 4 virtual processors to a virtual machine
- Maximum allocation of 64 GB of memory for virtual machines
- Maximum virtual hard disk capacity of 2TB
- Maximum number of snapshots per virtual machine set at 50
- Did not support concurrent Live Migrations between nodes
Even with these limitations, Hyper-V had a couple of huge advantages:
- One can’t beat the price of $0.
- There are thousands of Microsoft certified engineers who were raring to give Hyper-V a try.
- VMware really messed up with the ESXi 5 licensing.
Microsoft made steady improvements to Hyper-V with a culmination of true enterprise class feature functionality in Hyper-V 3.0 (if that is indeed the name) being released with Windows 8. Gartner projects 85% of all business with less than 1000 employees implementing virtualization will choose Hyper-V. And the features in Hyper-V 3.0 back that projection. Here are some of the features that really stand-out.
- Virtual machines now support 32 virtual processors and 512 GB of RAM per virtual machine. This with the improvements to the dynamic memory allocation, specifically Smart Paging, allows it to deliver the performance required by enterprise workloads.
- Virtual hard drives are no longer limited to 2TB. The new VHDX format will support up to 64 TB of virtual hard drive storage. In addition to capacity, the alignment of the virtual hard disk with larger sector sizes as well as larger blocks for differencing disks will greatly increase performance. This feature coupled with the built-in deduplication feature for NTFS in Windows 8 will deliver significant gains in storage utilization.
- Unlimited concurrent Live Migrations allowing virtual machines to migrate between hosts and at the same time decoupling the need to have migrations confined to a clustered setup. This is a huge leap forward, since now standard SMB shares can be leveraged for Live Migration and Storage Migration.
- Enhanced networking features that allow the virtual switch to throttle bandwidth between a set minimum and maximum limits. In addition, native support for NIC teaming now makes higher bandwidth available to virtual machines.
The following are my favorites:
- Hyper-V replica is a new feature that allows asynchronous replication between Hyper-V hosts without the need for a SAN, in fact it is a storage-agnostic and workload-agnostic solution that replicates over the IP network across a LAN or a WAN.
- Virtual Fiber Channel support allows the virtual machines to be connected directly to the storage fabric, enabling features like clustering as well as booting from a Fiber or iSCSI SAN.
- Hyper-V on Windows 8 client will really allow enthusiasts to get exposed to the technology and help Hyper-V gain significant traction in the SMB market.
Now only if Hyper-V 3.0 would have USB or eSATA or Tape passthrough access to the guest operating systems, it would be just perfect. Hoping that Microsoft delivers a little surprise with the delivery of those features by general availability of Windows 8. J Stay tuned for more deep dives into Hyper-V.