Microsoft recently released the technical preview of Hyper-V Server for download. Hyper-V is the popular, enterprise-class virtualization software that has become increasingly more popular and powerful since it was released as part of Windows Server 2008.
I would like to take a look at some of the new features available in this new release, which is available in the Hyper-V role in Windows Server Technical Preview as well as the Hyper-V client running on Windows 10 Technical Preview.
I’m going to assume you’re at least familiar with Hyper-V or virtualization technology in general, and won’t spend much time trying to convince you of the benefits of virtualization at least part of your computing environment. If you need a quick primer on Hyper-V along with some practical examples of how it’s being used today, I recommend this article from Microsoft TechNet.
Hyper-V vs. VMware
If you go back just a couple of years, you’ll see Microsoft was playing catch-up to VMware with its release of Hyper-V for Windows Server 2012. Features that many of us take for granted today such as a Hyper-V desktop client and module for Windows PowerShell, were new and welcome features.
Today’s Hyper-V is a much more polished and robust platform, and that shows in the feature list of today’s technical preview. Not long ago many IT managers would have told you that Hyper-V was a good choice for small shops, but that VMware was the choice for large deployments. There no doubt some of those old clichés still exist, but Microsoft has closed the feature gap to the point that both products compare well to each other.
What’s New in the Hyper-V Technical Preview?
Rolling Hyper-V Cluster Upgrade – This is great news for shops running large-scale Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster nodes who want to add a test or production node running the latest version of Hyper-V to their environment. Until all nodes have been upgraded to the latest version, the cluster will continue to function at a Windows Server 2012 R2 feature level, but this allows companies to test and roll-out upgrades in a much more orderly fashion.
Storage Quality of Service – Hyper-V technical preview allows you to create storage QoS policies on Scale-Out File Server and assign them to one or more virtual disks on Hyper-V virtual machines. This is a new feature to Hyper-V.
Virtual Machine Configuration Version – This is a seemingly small feature with big implications because it allows a virtual machine that was imported from Windows 2012 RS2 to the Technical Preview version of Hyper-V to be rolled back to its original state on Windows 2012 RS. This is a result of the virtual machine’s configuration file not being automatically updated. The new Hyper-V also updates the configuration file format to increase the efficiency of reading and writing configuration data.
Production Checkpoints – This is an update to standard checkpoints which allows for the simple creation of “point in time” images that can be restored in a way that’s supported for all production workloads. You can still create saved state checkpoints if you wish, but production checkpoints will be enabled by default.
Windows Update Supported – Updates to integration services will be distributed through Windows Update. This will allow the owners to upgrade their virtual machines using a single method. Personally, I’m interested to see what IT managers think of this feature given their love/hate relationship with Windows Update.
Hot Add/Remove for Network Adapters and Memory – Adding memory or replacing a dead network adapter used to result in downtime. The new Hyper-V allows you to replace either while the virtual machine is still running. This has to be one of the most requested features.
Linux Secure Boot – Ubuntu 14.04 and later along with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 are now enabled for secure boot on hosts running the Hyper-V technical preview.
For those who have deployed Hyper-V into your environment, these are welcome changes and will bring increased efficiency and security to deploying and managing virtual machines.
*Please Note: While available for download today, Hyper-V Technical Preview is still pre-release software and is not intended for production environments.