Last month at the BUILD Conference we introduced Windows Server 8 and began discussing how it will help customers deliver the most dynamic, available, and cost-effective server platform for what we call "cloud optimized IT." I wanted to follow up on Bill Laing's blog post and dig into the advancements in our Hyper-V virtualization role, which provides a complete virtualization platform, increased scalability and performance, and connectivity to cloud services.

Using Windows Server 8 Hyper-V, organization can deliver fully isolated, multi-tenant clouds, enable high scale and low cost data centers and provide the most manageable, extensible and interoperable platform for cloud. Below are just a few examples of some new and enhanced features in the Windows Server 8 Developer Preview that support a complete virtualization platform and provide the best platform for the cloud.

Multi-tenancy, Isolation & Quality of Service (QoS)

  • Hyper-V Network Virtualization:
    • Allows you to keep your own internal IP addresses when moving to the cloud while providing isolation from other organizations' VMs - even if those VMs use the same exact IP addresses
  • Hyper-V Extensible Switch provides:
    • Multi-tenant security and isolation options
    • Traffic shaping and network traffic control
    • Built-in security protection against malicious VMs
  • Quality of Services (QoS) bandwidth management to improve overall performance in virtualized environments.
  • Resource Metering to support more detailed and accurate usage billing

But we did not stop there. The growing importance of virtualization and cloud services in enterprises and for hosting providers requires increased system responsiveness to meet SLAs and customer expectations. Windows Server 8 provides significant improvements in scalability and performance for virtualized platforms that help IT organizations use a fixed amount of resources to run more workloads faster with Hyper-V, and to offload specific processes to hardware. The result is a high density and highly scalable environment that can be adapted to perform at optimum levels based on customers' requirements. Windows Server 8 includes a number of features that help support faster, even more reliable virtualized environments. Here are just a few of the new capabilities in the Windows Server 8 developer preview.

Massive Scale & Performance

  • Support for up to 160 logical processors per host
  • Support for up to 2 TB of memory per host
  • Support for up to 32 virtual processors per virtual machine
  • Support for up to 512 GB of memory per virtual machine
  • New VHDX virtual hard disk format with support for up to 16 TB per virtual disk and support for next-generation hard disks with larger disk sectors
    • Hyper-V Pass Through Disks have no maximum limit other than what is supported by the guest OS
  • Hyper-V Single Root-I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) which enables you to map Network Interface Cards (NICs) within VMs for scale up workloads. SR-IOV is particularly important for workloads that require >10GbE
  • Hyper-V Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX) which enables secure, offloaded transfers between virtual disks, arrays and across data center with little to no CPU utilization.
  • Guest Fiber Channel which provides:
    • Increased virtual machine storage options with support for Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs)
    • Support for guest clustering via FC
    • Support for guest multi-path IO (MPIO)

Complete VM Mobility

  • Share Nothing Live Migration allows you to Live Migrate VMs with nothing but a network connection
  • Live Storage Migration enables no downtime storage servicing and storage load balancing
  • Concurrent Live Migrations and Concurrent Live Storage Migrations allows you to Live Migrate as many virtual machines or as much virtual storage as you'd like. Hyper-V has no limits. The only limits are based on how much hardware you provide
  • Live Migration Prioritization
  • Hyper-V support for SMB2.2 file based storage, making it easier to provision and manage storage, taking advantage of existing network investments

With Windows Server 8 Hyper-V, we heard you loud and clear. Per your request, any part of a virtual machine can be live migrated with or without high availability. The choice is yours. Cloud computing on your terms provides you maximum flexibility based on your requirements.

Windows Server 8: The Ideal Foundation for the Cloud

Windows Server 8 Hyper-V technology supports a dynamic IT environment that adapts quickly to changing business needs and scenarios. Hyper-V provides the tools and supports processes that can increase automation and reduce the overall costs of an organization's infrastructure. By doing that, a data center becomes completely dynamic and enables full decoupling of the physical infrastructure from the logical workloads - a key value that private cloud solutions provide.

Cloud computing takes virtualization to the next level by treating compute, network, and storage resources as a flexible pool that can be allocated to any workload. By providing the ability to increase and decrease utilization based on demand, cloud computing gives IT greater elasticity and scale, empowering end users to use self-service support and freeing up IT resources.

This is just a glimpse at a few of the new capabilities in Windows Server 8. We'll dig deeper in the next few blogs.

Mike Neil
General Manager
Windows Server & Cloud