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BIG Hyper-V News Part III: Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta Now Available!!

BIG Hyper-V News Part III: Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta Now Available!!

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Remember way back on 1st October, when I blogged about the release of Microsoft’s free hypervisor based virtualisation solution, Hyper-V Server 2008?

In that post, I talked about the cost (free), along with it’s capabilities, what it would be good for, yet at the same time, what it wouldn’t be suitable for.  At the time, I felt Hyper-V Server 2008 was a great solution for things like VDI (Virtual Desktops), Test & Dev, Staging, Simple Consolidation etc.  The reason it didn’t say anything related to ‘Enterprise’, and ‘Large Production Environments’ was because I felt it was lacking in a few key areas.


As you can see, there was no high availability, and thus no quick migration, plus, it topped out at 32GB RAM in the physical box (which I thought was less of an issue), but it also didn’t support as many logical processors as Hyper-V in WS2008 Enterprise or Datacenter did.  Shame.

The great thing was, that you didn’t need any CALs for it, so you didn’t need to upgrade your CALs on your desktops, to 2008, like you do with Hyper-V as part of Windows Server 2008.  More on that another time.

So, the big news.  Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 removes those limitations, and brings even more cool stuff, some of which, I can’t even tell you about yet!  What can I tell you?  Firstly, check out the table below.

Table Comparison

Firstly, if you compare the left column (Hyper-V Server 2008) with the middle column (Hyper-V Server 2008 R2), you can see some big improvements:

  • Failover Clustering: The initial release of Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 did not include support for failover clustering.  However, with Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta, host clustering technology is included to enable support for unplanned downtime
  • Live Migration: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 includes support for live migration. Live migration enables customers to move running applications between servers without service interruptions.
  • With Live Migration and Failover Clustering, customers receive high availability and dynamic migration capabilities for both planned and unplanned downtime.
  • Processor and Memory support: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta now supports up to 8-socket physical systems and provides support for up to 32-cores.  In addition, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta supports up to 1TB of RAM on a physical system.
  • Updated Hyper-V Configuration Utility: The Hyper-V Configuration utility is designed to simplify the most common initial configuration tasks.  It helps you configure the initial configuration settings without having to type long command-line strings.  New configuration options have been added for R2 Beta including:
    • Remote Management Configuration
    • Failover Clustering Configuration
    • Additional options for Updates

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Config

As you can see from the screengrab above, the Failover Clustering Role is in there, but how do you set it up?  Use the Remote Server Administration Tools that I blogged about earlier (hopefully), or use Windows Server 2008 R2 with a GUI!!  They should allow you to build a Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Failover Cluster, with no problems whatsoever!

Looking at the table above again, the things that surprises me the most, is that the specs for Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, are pretty much identical to that of Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition.  This is a BIG Deal.

Think about the scenarios that this lends itself to!  Think, for an SMB, who wants to consolidate current licenses onto a low cost virtualisation platform.  What choices do they have?  Well, currently, Hyper-V Server 2008 is a great solution, however it doesn’t allow these SMB’s to have any high availability or migration capability, so, it’s not right for everyone.  Customers then may think about going for VMware ESXi, which is a small footprint, hypervisor based solution for the SMB, that’s also designed as a path up to ESX in the future.  ESXi however, is also a single box solution, unless you buy the vCenter management technology, which enables the unlocking of the High Availability / Migration capability, but you have to pay for those.  ESXi also has some nice memory features, and runs a large number of Linux guest OS’s too.  I think the main advantage ESXi has over Hyper-V Server 2008, is that it can be used to provide HA / Migration (yes, at a cost), whereas Hyper-V Server 2008 will never be able to do that.  This has all changed with Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.  If you now compare ESXi with HVS2008 R2, a lot of the specs are similar – HVS R2 wins slightly on the physical memory support (1TB vs. 256GB), but when it gets to that large, I doubt it’s a big deal)  ESXi will still win on a few bits, however I think the key win for HVS 2008 R2 is, HA / Live Migration is built in, for free, and you don’t need a dedicated management product, like SCVMM or vCenter, to enable it.  This is a big deal for SMBs.  They can virtualise on a powerful, resilient platform, and utilise their current licensing too.  Brill.

One advantage that ESXi currently does have, is the ability to pop it on a flash device, or embed it into hardware, so it’ll run fast, and OEMs can ship it big time, so customers can buy a ‘Virtualisation Appliance’ which is ready to rock.  Will HVS 2008 R2 bring this functionality?  Who knows…?

I can’t wait for HVS 2008 R2 to ship – Microsoft are bringing virtualisation to the masses with this release.  All this for free too.  Blimey.  I need to get on the Xbox 360 to calm down :-)

  • Thank you for the post, informative and interesting!



  • As you might recall Hyper-V Server 2008 is a further Hyper-V optimized version of a Server Core installations

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

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