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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 Released

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 Released

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HyperVServer

I’ve just come off the stage at our UK SQL 2008 & Virtualisation launch, where I’ve had the opportunity to reveal (at least at the time, it was!) an exclusive…that Hyper-V Server 2008 was now available!  Great stuff!  But what is it?

Well, Hyper-V Server 2008 is a separate product, a speciality server if you will, that is priced at a whopping £0, which, even at today’s exchange rates, equates to $0 :-) But what do you get for your money (or not, in this case!).  Well, the Hyper-V elements are effectively the same as they are in Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, but with one big difference.  Windows.  Well, kind of.  There are still the core components of the kernel in the sense of all the Windows-Hypervisor related bits, along with the driver model, but, unlike Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, there are no other roles available for install – it’s purely a hypervisor solution, installs on the bare-metal, and allows you to run up to 128 VMs on a single box (or 192 if you’re using the latest Intel 6-core chips!)

This table gives a good summary of the differentiators between Hyper-V Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V:

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Key things to draw out are that there is no GUI – well, kind of:

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Is this a problem?  Nope.  Manage it from another GUI installation of Windows Server 2008, or Vista SP1 with the Remote Server Administration Tools (x64 and x86 versions available).  There’s no clustering element to it.  Is this a problem?  Yes and no, or, it depends.  It’s a problem if you need those features, but if you need those features, you’d roll up to Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and have them built in.  If we compare that with VMware’s minimal ESXi, you’d need to buy Virtual Center, and then ensure you’ve bought the relevant license for HA, and if you want migration capability, VMotion licenses too.  Obviously you can buy these as packages to reduce cost, but out of the box, ESXi and Hyper-V Server 2008 aren’t too dissimilar, albeit ESXi has a smaller footprint on disk (what’s a few megabytes (or so) between friends? :-)), and can be clustered should you buy the stuff mentioned above.  You won’t be able to cluster Hyper-V Server 2008 – not in this version anyway…

What else is different?  Well, that’s pretty much it – you don’t get any fancy licensing advantages, like you do with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (4 free VMs) and Datacenter (Unlimited free VMs) so it’s similar to ESX and ESXi in that sense.

What is it going to be good for?

This is a key question, and personally, I'd agree with what the guys have put on the site.

  • Test and Development
  • Basic Server Consolidation
  • Branch Office Consolidation
  • Hosted Desktop Virtualization (VDI)

    Test and Dev is a good one – you could use Hyper-V Server 2008 almost like a staging area – get the VMs tested, and working, then move them, offline, across to your live environment, running Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V (or Hyper-V Server 2008 if you prefer!).  Either way, no change required to the VM or it’s Virtual Hard Disk (.vhd).  Good news!

    Basic consolidation is another – I guess the use of the word basic reflects Hyper-V Server 2008’s lack of clustering capability, and thus you can’t really achieve dynamic infrastructures running on it like you could with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and VMware, Citrix et al.

    Branch Office is an interesting one – stick Hyper-V Server 2008 on an isolated branch server (there’s already over 400 Certified Servers that will run both Hyper-V Server and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and plenty that aren’t certified (but Hyper-V will run fantastically, like my Dell D630 laptop) and virtualise your Domain Controller (Read-Only hopefully), File Server, Print Server etc etc, and re-use licenses you’ve already acquired in the past!  Obviously not OEM licenses, as these live and die with the hardware.  I think the big use of branch office virtualisation is more around server isolation rather than purely consolidation.  Each branch will be different though!

    Final one is VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.  Why is this a good candidate?  Well, think about it…do you need Virtual Desktops to be highly available, and move around during the day?  Well, in some environments maybe, but when you’ve got a decent brokering technology like Citrix’s XenDesktop or Quest’s Virtual Access Suite, they are handling the starting and stopping of VMs, along with the intelligent directing of users from their Thin Client (for example) to their virtualised desktop.  If a user loses their session, or the VM goes down, the broker should sort them out and redirect them quickly, so any loss of productivity should be minimal.  I would say it’s an acceptable loss based on the cost savings made with the solution.

    Will Hyper-V Server 2008 work with PowerShell?  Absolutely – I just demo’d on stage, executing a PowerShell script (written by James O’Neill, hosted on Codeplex) where it generated 20 VMs, and started them, in about 1 minute, from a 2008 box, executed against the Hyper-V Server 2008.  Saved me a hell of a lot of time, and very easy to do.

    Can Hyper-V Server 2008 integrate with my other Microsoft management tools?  Yep.  It can be patched by SC Configuration Manager 2007, Backed up by Data Protection Manager 2007 SP1 (Due soon!), monitored using System Center Operations Manager 2007, and best of all, managed by System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 – 1 suite to manage them all :-)  Change in behaviour?  No.  Cost savings?  Absolutely.

    Happy Hyper-V Server-ing! :-)

  • Comments
    • Does the minimal CLI support creating/adding and managing virtual machines using at least the CLI? Otherwise, I see it as deliberately crippled to throw a tidbit and make us buy Server 2008. Basic VM management should be out of the box at least by CLI, if not GUI.

    • Hi,

      In the same way that ESX, ESXi, XenServer, or any other of the GUI-less Virtualisation platforms work, Hyper-V Server 2008 requires the creation/management of VMs from somewhere else, however, this isn't necessarily from Server 2008.

      You can download the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista, and manage them from your client OS also.

      Hope that helps,

      Matt

    • Microsoft released a new server hardware virtualization product yesterday: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008.

    • So to clarify management by powershell, you are saying that we can't run powershell on Hyper-V Server 2008, but we can run scripts on another host against it. Is that right?

    • @ itwyatt - yes, if you log on locally to the Hyper-V Server, you won't be able to run PowerShell scripts, however, if I go to a Vista SP1 with the Remote Server Admin Tools, or a Windows Server 2008 GUI box, with Hyper-V Manager MMC, I can execute a PowerShell script, there, against the Hyper-V Server 2008, that will bring about a result on the Hyper-V Server 2008.

      Hope that helps,

      Matt

    • Remember way back on 1st October, when I blogged about the release of Microsoft’s free hypervisor based

    • When Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 shipped last October, it was clear that whilst it was a very performant

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