Hyper-V has quietly moved into the hypervisor marketplace. I think the reason for the lack of pomp and circumstance around Hyper-V is that it doesn’t introduce some grand new sexy feature set that no one else in the market place has ever seen. Instead Microsoft gives every IT Pro and CIO what they really want, a free product that just works!

How is Hyper-V Free?

Windows Server 2012 R2 comes in a couple of different flavors, specifically Standard and Data Center Editions. There is NO functional difference between the editions! They both do the same things. The operating system, roles and features are exactly the same in each edition. They have the same feature sets, capabilities, options, everything. The only difference between the editions are the virtualization rights included with the edition purchased. The Standard edition gives the rights for 2 virtual machines included with the cost of the license while the Data Center edition includes unlimited virtualization rights. Unlike past versions of the Windows Server Operating system there is no such thing as Windows Server 2012 R2 that does not include Hyper-V.

If you have to buy a Windows Server License to get Hyper-V then how is Hyper-V free? Well you have to think about this from a different perspective. Every business wants to virtualize their infrastructure. In order to do so they will need a hypervisor. There are several in the marketplace and most cost money. At this point the business is faced with a decision to buy a Hypervisor or not to buy a Hypervisor. Over the past decade most businesses bought VMware (and it’s an amazing Hypervisor.) The next choice you will have to make is what operating system you are going to run in your VMs. Statistics tell us the vast majority of VMs run Windows Server. SO at this point you are going to purchase your Windows Server 2012 Licenses to run on your VMware virtual infrastructure. In a strange twist of financial fate since you bought the Windows Server License it also includes the Hyper-V hypervisor. You have effectively purchased both VMware and Hyper-V. Every CIO, CTO, and technology manager out there just had a light bulb come on in his mind. Does this mean you could skip the initial acquisition costs of the Hypervisor and just pay for the Windows Server licenses? It does indeed. That’s why Microsoft says that Hyper-V is free! It’s a compelling argument for Hyper-V.

Ok it’s free but will it support my virtualization needs?

Short Answer: Yes!

Hyper-V has enterprise class capabilities in storage, networking, memory, disk allocation, and every other core facet of Virtualization. It’s incredibly easy to manage and operate and like the title of this blog post “It Just Works!” One of the things that you will love about Hyper-V is that it does amazingly well in heterogeneous hypervisor environments running beside VMware. Many businesses are choosing to run both their existing VMware implementation and saving cost on new workloads by running them in Hyper-V.

**Note: It is essential that you understand that Hyper-V is focused on the core VM and supporting that VM. Hyper-V does not emulate other devices such as routers, network switches, etc. Not very Sexy right! But Free and it just works.

Recommendations:

1. Hyper-V is a true type 1 hypervisor which means you have to feed it hardware. Don’t think for a second that just because it’s installed through Window Server that you can try the old stand-alone server hardware model from the client server days. Use the same generous resource pool model that you would use with any other type1 hypervisor. Lots of CPU, RAM, fast disks, and lots of network connectivity and you will love Hyper-V.

2. If you are going to run more than 11 VMs in your infrastructure it’s probably best to purchase the Data Center edition.

3. Hyper-V does not have a built in data protection or monitoring so you will want to use the Veeam software you already use with VMware and use it to protect your data on Hyper-V as well. (Yes it is Sexy, and it Just Works!)

4. Use advanced feature sets offered in Hyper-V. Use .vhdx instead of .vhd. Use gen 2 VMs instead of Gen 1. Use Dynamic Memory allocation. Enable high availability for networking resources.

5. Structure workloads with availability in mind and distribute vms across hosts to maximize performance.

6. Read the Overview of Hyper-V as well as the following interesting articles

What’s New in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2012 R2

Top underestimated features of Windows Server 2012


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Hyper-V Isn’t Sexy, but it’s Free and it Just Works!, 2.2 out of 5 based on 23 ratings

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  • Jeff Hunter

    VMware has a free hypervisor, as well, if you just need basic virtualization (like the free version of Hyper-V) > http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere-hypervisor 😉

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    • Marc K

      When I looked into it, the free version of VMware didn’t expose the backup API. That’s less than basic virtualization.

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      • Jeff Hunter

        Hi Marc. I see the Veeam logo for you picture – do you work for Veeam? There are a few backup solutions out there that can backup VMs on the free version of ESXi, but I won’t go down that path out of respect for Veeam – which I agree is a very good backup solution, by the way. My take is if a workload is important enough to back up, I probably would not pick a “free” platform, i.e., little or no support, to run it.

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        • Marc K

          Jeff, I do not work for Veeam and did not select that logo. I wonder if is a default that the blog software is supplying when the profile does not have an avatar.

          That’s my point. While VMware is a crippled free solution, Hyper-V is supported and very capable.

          If you need to run Windows VMs, choosing Hyper-V to be the hypervisor is an easy choice.

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