Hyper-V, part of the Windows Server 2008 R2 platform, provides some improvements that were absolutely necessary for Microsoft to even think of competing with VMware's latest offerings. Are they enough? eWEEK Labs' early look at the new Hyper-V shows that Microsoft still has a lot of ground to cover.
Microsoft released Windows Server 2008 R2 with a newly improved version of
Hyper-V. Even so, VMware is still miles ahead in terms of the features and
innovation that lay the foundation for sustainable virtualization for midsize and
In fact, I think VMware-with its just-released vSphere 4-has raised the bar
so high that Microsoft's best hope is to be the low-cost leader. But while
cheap, "You get what you pay for" products might work in a consumer category,
they won't play too well in IT shops that depend on high-performance data
operations to stay in business.
That said, here's what's new and compelling in Hyper-V.
The previous version of Hyper-V had Quick Migration to move virtual machines
from one physical host to another. Now, Quick Migration is gone and Live
Migration is here.
Click here for a look at improvements in the Hyper-V implementation.
In the weeks ahead, I'll be conducting extensive Live Migration tests on the
Labs' Hewlett-Packard and Sun Xeon 5500 ("Nehalem")-based systems.
But, for now, let's just say that Quick Migration was so inferior to VMware's
VMotion that Microsoft had
to shore up this function in Hyper-V.
I suspect that Live Migration has some catching up to do with similar VMware
features that have been in field use for several years. When it comes to
failover, high availability and load balancing, there is no substitute for
production experience. This is one area in which cheap and OK is trumped by
market-priced and reliable.
Cluster Shared Volumes are also improved in this version of Hyper-V and play
an important role in making VMs highly available. The fact that these
clustering enhancements support Live Migration makes them important, but they
are no means innovative.
Included among the improvements is a best-practices tool to help ensure
proper system configuration. I'm anxious to get started putting a clustered
Hyper-V environment together here in the lab. I'll be making extensive use of
this tool to see how helpful it is in putting my storage and computing
resources into correct alignment.
Microsoft does have a leg up on VMware in at least one area.
Sometime in the next couple of months, Microsoft will release the next
version of its System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Microsoft has years of
experience in managing large numbers of Windows systems, as well as an almost
equal number of years in working with third-party tool makers. Even though most
of Microsoft's management experience is with Microsoft-only tools, this could
be the edge it needs to win over the virtualization hearts and minds of IT
managers, who will soon be measured on how well they manage their virtualized
data centers (if they aren't already).
Look for my review of Hyper-V as part of eWEEK Labs' extensive coverage of
the Windows Server 2008 R2 platform and Windows 7.
Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at