“Hyper-V” the next generation Virtualization technology

Date May 19, 2008

As we hear a lot about the buzzword Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008, scheduled to RTM soon in coming few months, just thought of exploring on this technology and what are the possible enhancements in this technology we can expect. As there are not too many documents / white papers currently available, we need to explore installing Windows Server 2008, already available.

First starting with the basics on what is virtualization? I assume you have the heard-abouts on this technology. We will then focus on the Hyper-V technology. The traditional way of networking required the physical hardware, ample space, separate power requirement for each hardware, etc… which not only adds up the total cost of investment over the hardware but also on the specialized skills for supporting different servers. By implementing Virtualization, we overcome all the above concerns.

Virtualization is an abstraction layer that allows multiple virtual machines, with heterogeneous operating systems to run in isolation, side-by-side on the same physical machine. Using virtualization you can run multiple operating systems on a single machine whether virtual machines are different operating systems to be tested, or whatever other configurations you care to imagine.

While earlier its adoption was primarily limited to test and development environments, the maturity of technologies that its use in enterprises evolved in various ways. The Microsoft’s server virtualization offers flexible workload management, allowing IT teams to relocate live applications without any downtime. Server virtualization is primarily the encapsulation of server infrastructure and resources, hiding the identity of physical servers, processors and operating systems from the end-users. Software applications are used to divide a physical server into multiple independent virtual environments that may run concurrently, more commonly referred to as virtual private servers, guests, partitions, instances, containers or emulators.

There are 3 forms of Virtualization:

  • Virtual Machine model
  • Para-virtualization model
  • Operating system virtualization model

Virtualization allows us to:

  • Consolidate workloads to reduce hardware, power, and space requirements.
  • Run multiple operating systems simultaneously – as an enterprise upgrade path, or to leverage the advantages of specific operating systems, or for whatever reason you can imagine.
  • Run legacy software on newer, more reliable, and more power efficient hardware
  • Isolate operating environments to improve security and fault tolerance
  • Provide redundancy to support disaster recovery
  • Create fully configured isolated virtual machines with it’s own set of virtual hardware to run an operating system and applications
  • Rapidly save, copy and provision virtual machines that can be moved from one physical server to another for workload consolidation and zero downtown maintenance

A Microsoft’s Virtual Server virtual machine supports up to four virtual network adapters in the virtual machine environment
Microsoft also offers a physical machine-to-virtual machine (P2V) conversion tool using The Virtual Server Migration Toolkit (VSMT)
Though the Virtual Server supports only Ethernet topologies, it does also support the IPV6 technology of IP Addressing.
Virtual Hard Disks (VHD) can be stored on a SAN. A host operating system views a SAN volume as a local volume, due to which no special configuration is needed when using a Microsoft’s Virtual Server solution with a SAN.

Microsoft’s virtualization solutions increases hardware utilization and enables organizations to rapidly configure and deploy new servers with the following key benefits:

  • Efficient use of hardware resources
  • Enhanced administrative productivity and responsiveness
  • Well-supported server virtualization solution
  • A key deliverable for Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative.

Few reasons to implement Virtualization:

  • Production server consolidation
  • Business continuity management
  • Software test and development
  • Create Dynamic datacenter
  • Ease Power consumption
  • Better security
  • Run legacy softwae on non-legacy hardware
  • Run multiple operating systems on the same hardware
  • Improve scalability
  • Dynamically manage outages

Microsoft has developed the Hyper-V technology, a next generation 64-bit hypervisor based virtualization technology that reduces cost, increases hardware utilization, optimizes network and business infrastructure, and improves server availability.

Hyper-V is a key feature of Windows Server 2008, integrating with familiar, Windows based server management tools. Businesses don’t have to purchase additional software to take advantage of powerful virtualization features like live backup and quick migration. For customers who want a complete server management solution that works with virtual machines and physical servers, Microsoft’s System Center product line now includes advanced virtual machine management and monitoring capabilities. Hyper-V’s open architecture enables internal development teams and third-party software developers to build enhancements to the technology and tools.

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