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VMware or Microsoft: Simplified Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 Host Patching = Greater Security and More Uptime

VMware or Microsoft: Simplified Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 Host Patching = Greater Security and More Uptime

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Many IT Pros still don’t know that Microsoft offers a bare metal hypervisor. Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 installs directly on your hardware with a very minimal set of Windows Server components to optimize the virtualization environment. This Hyper-V platform eliminates many of the common Windows Server infrastructure features such as Active Directory, DNS, IIS, DHCP, and more. Below you can see a comparison between the Add Roles and Features Wizards for a Windows Server 2012 and Windows Hyper-V Server 2012.

 

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Because the code doesn't even exist on the platform, there is a significantly reduced attack surface that enhances security. Combine this with built in BitLocker support, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 is an excellent, secure solution for remote sites where there may not be the same level of physical security. VMware has no capability within the vSphere Hypervisor that can enable the encryption of either VMFS, or the VMDK files themselves. Instead, they rely on hardware-based or in-guest alternatives, which add cost, management overhead, and additional resource usage.

More importantly, there is typically very little to patch on Patch Tuesday. For instance, if there is a critical Windows DNS patch that requires a reboot, it simply does not apply to Windows Hyper-V Server. The result – a significant reduction in host downtime which means the guest workloads don’t have to be migrated or incur any downtime while the host is rebooted. In the essence of transparency – we are not perfect. There are patches that will require a Hyper-V host to be rebooted (here is a KB article for Hyper-V 2012 specific patches). However, in the event there is a patch that requires a reboot of the host, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 allows you to migrate workloads to other Hyper-V servers or to leverage a replica VM while a host is being rebooted. Something the free VMware offering specifically doesn’t support. To get this for VMware you must purchase the much more expensive VMware offering. I like free!

 

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But when you consider that a patch reboot is a relatively small part of what goes on in production, I feel the absolutely most important aspect of this is reduced resource usage by the host itself. Ideally, you want any hypervisor used in productions to consume as little resources at the host level as possible leaving as much as we can for the VM’s we are hosting. Microsoft Hyper-V Server accomplishes this by eliminating the code for extraneous services completely.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 doesn’t compromise on any Hyper-V Features either. Even though this is an absolutely free hypervisor, it fully supports all of the same enterprise feature sets of a Windows 2012 Server with the Hyper-V role enabled.

 

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This contrasts the free VMware vSphere Hypervisor offering that cripples some features such as moving running workloads easily to another VMware server, lack of high availability features, and a cap on the VMware host of 32 gigs of installed memory (this is a hard cap too the VMware license key will not be accepted if the host has >32 gigs of memory installed!).

 

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Finally, we aren’t finished innovating in the bare-metal virtualization space. Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 is just around the corner and it boasts new updates and features to further enable IT Administrators to optimize their virtualized environments and reduce costs.

 

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If you want to take a look at some of the new features, download the Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 Preview here -

 

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Sources:

Why Hyper-V?  -  Competitive Advantages of Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 over VMware vSphere Hypervisor

What’s New in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2

vSphere 5 vs. Hyper-V 3 (Beta)

 

-Cheers!

Comments
  • If you have to purchase a Windows license then its not free.   Even if you only install these three roles, you still are installing windows so anything thats included with that needs patching.  Also,  why are File and Storage Services and Remote Desktop Services required?  That's more that needs patching potentially.  Also, What does Linux Support updated mean?  What versions of RedHat could I run for example?

  • Hello Jon - The Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 SKU is completely free. You do not have to buy a license for the Windows Hyper-V Server host.  If you use a Windows Server 2012 SKU with the Hyper-V role enabled, then there is a license required for the SKU. This article is about the FREE Windows Hyper-V Server SKU - http://aka.ms/HyperVeval

    Any roles you add to a server will add footprint and increase the surface area. However, the 3 roles you mentioned are NOT required roles. They are optional roles. With Windows Hyper-V Server, the code for most of the other common infrastructure roles doesn't even exist so patches for those components will never be needed to be applied. If there is a Hyper-V hypervisor specific patch, then it is possible a reboot may be required. The same would apply for any additional roles you add. The best advice for running a Hyper-V host is to run it with as few roles enabled as possible and that is exactly what most people do in production.

    Here is a full list of ALL Supported Operating Systems and their configurations (including Red Hat!) -

    technet.microsoft.com/.../hh831531.aspx

    -Chris

  • As far as I know, File and Storage is here for various storage-related tasks (like Cluster Shared Volume management by example).

    RDP is more of a convenience thing - it's may be more familiar than pure Powershell remoting for some people, and more practical than a console acess.

  • Nab - You are correct on both counts.  The File and Storage Role allows for advanced storage features. There are some enticing features that have been added in the 2012 SKU's and even more being added in the R2 time frame (which is just around the corner!)

    Windows Server 2012 Storage Enhancements - www.microsoft.com/.../storage-features.aspx

    Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Enhancements - blogs.technet.com/.../windows-server-2012-r2-storage-step-by-step-with-storage-spaces-smb-scale-out-and-shared-vhdx-virtual.aspx

    The RDP Feature is (IMO) for convenience. Local management of a GUI'less Microsoft Hyper-V Server can be done, but most people will remotely manage via PowerShell or RDP.

    -Chris

  • a few comments on this blog:

    1. I suggest to add a versionnumber for VMware vSphere Hypervisor. Features might change in future versions. By adding a version number things get a bit more transparent.

    2. VMware offers a free, crippled version of their hypervisor to get customers an easy entry into server virtualization. It is not meant for production purposes. It has many limitations to prevent vSphere Hypervisor being an alternative to the paid version.

    3. From a marketing perspective I understand Microsoft choose to compare their free offering to the VMware free offering in this blog. As Microsoft needs to grap a share of the market and has deep pockets a way to buy into the market is giving away products for free. Maybe it would be a bit more fair/accurate to also include features of for example vSphere Standard Edition. Just what Microsoft marketing did in other documents where vSphere was compared to Hyper-V

  • Marcel -

    All great suggestions and thank you for the feedback.   I will pass this along to my team so that we can make sure we are representing things properly and fairly.

    The point of my article is multi-faceted. To your questions, this article demonstrates that Microsoft offers a full-featured, bare-metal, enterprise class hypervisor for running production workloads at no charge. We don't cripple any features and in fact recommend that Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 be the go to version of our hypervisor for production workloads.

    I am not going to debate the fairness of marketing tactics as that is well above my pay grade. Suffice it to say the point of marketing and advertising is to get people to investigate, try, buy, and in our industry, to deploy. Hopefully we treat our customers well along the journey and they become loyal customers and advocates.

  • VMware removed the memory cap on the free version of the hypervisor, recently announced at VMworld. blog.pluralsight.com/.../vsphere-5-5-new-features

  • @Mike - Thanks for the update and the link!  I am going to be working with my team to do comparisons of what was introduced at VMworld against the Hyper-V features from our R2 releases after we reach general availability on October 18th.

  • I love these MS comparisons articles. (sarcasm) What enterprise is running free hyper-v or free esxi anyway? What is really the point?

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