Friday, June 13, 2008

2008 Hyper-V first impressions

I've been playing around with the new Hyper-V (beta) that's included in server 2008 and I have to say it looks promising. Keep in mind that it's still in the beta stage so there are bound to be some kinks in it. I currently use VMWare Server in my production environments because it's a nice balance between cost and ease of management/maintenance as compared to the VMWareESX product. (It's a lot easier to train my techs to support vmware on a windows platform than to teach them how to support linux and vmware both). I know some of you will say that comparing VMWare Server to 2k8 Hyper-V is a bit of an apples and orange comparison since 2k8 has a Hypervisor but for me the comparison is more about running Virtualization on a Windows host platform.

I installed Win2k8 x64 standard edition on a dual core 2.6Ghz server with 2GB ram. Then I added the Hyper-V role, rebooted, then applied a hotfix related to it from windows update. Creating new Virtual images is a breeze, the wizard walks you through just like the vmware one does and provides you with all the usual options of how many processors, how much ram, disk space, etc. The very first thing I noticed was the absence of any noticeable I/O hit. The Hypervisor handles direct I/O calls very nicely and I only began to notice a performance dip after I started running 2 more Virtual machines at the same time.

Microsoft has updated all their licensing and Eula materials to cover virtualization. On 2008 Enterprise edition, you're allowed to have 4 virtual machines running with an OS that's covered by the host OS license. With the Datacenter Edition, it goes to Infinity! Which means that if you built out a monster cluster, and I do strongly recommend that you cluster your VM servers if you want high availability, then you could save a bundle on operating system licenses. Oh, and the standard edition allows you to run 1 virtual to match the 1 physical license. For the price difference, if you plan to have a few virtual machines on the box, just buy the enterprise edition.

I wish they would have just used the same key combinations that VMWare does. I'm used to using CTRL-ALT a lot and now I have to remember CTRL-ALT-Left Arrow. There are a few other like that in the interface. I do like that you can have them running without any active displays and that each one runs in a different window that's not embedded into the console.

You can read more about Hyper-V at:


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