A New Choice in Virtualization

A New Choice in Virtualization

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In previous posts, I've discussed Hyper-V.  We have a new product out now, offering yet another option for your virtualization needs -- it's called Hyper-V Server 2008.  How, you may wonder, is this product different from the Hyper-V I discussed here?  Hyper-V is Microsoft's hypervisor -- the layer of the operating system that manages the connection between the virtual machine and the physical hardware.  Hyper-V is a component of Windows Server 2008.  It allows you to build virtual machines on top of your Server 2008 environment.  To fully understand this, let's take a look at my home setup.  I have one physical server running 4 virtual machines under Hyper-V.  (See the picture below.)

my home setup

From a licensing point-of-view, this is 5 instances of Windows Server -- one running on the physical machine and 4 virtual instances.  If the physical server is running Windows Server Enterprise edition, this means that all of the instances are included (the Enterprise license offers 4 virtual licenses with the physical machine's license).  If I were running Windows Server 2008 Standard, this scenario requires 5 server licenses -- one for each virtual machine in addition to the license for the physical machine.

From a performance point-of-view, the physical machine is not really doing much -- it's only there as a platform for me to run the virtual machines.  But, it is still chewing up resources on the machine -- resources that could be dedicated to running another virtual machine.  It's also costing me a Server license.  Ideally, in this scenario, it would be best if I could run those virtual machines on top of my physical machine without having to install Server 2008 on the base machine.  Until now, that hasn't been possible. 


Hyper-V Server 2008 is a new product from Microsoft, providing the functionality of the Hyper-V component in a standalone format.  This product allows a "bare metal install."  That means that no operating system is required -- Hyper-V Server is designed to be installed as the OS on the host machine.  It provides very limited functionality -- only allowing the machine to host virtual machines.  But, in a scenario like mine, that's the only functionality I need.  The best part is, Hyper-V Server 2008 is a free download.  So, not only do you not need to use on of your Windows Server licenses to host virtual machines, but you don't have to spend a penny!  :)

I'm in the process of reloading my server with this new product, so expect more in the near future about the inner workings of Hyper-V Server 2008.


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