Hyper-V - Windows Virtualization

Hyper-V - Windows Virtualization

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I am very busy on some internal projects and so don't blog quite often. However there is a gem of a feature in the new Windows Server 2008 64 bit release, that I can't help sharing. It is called Hyper-Visor - this feature enables you to run multiple guest OS's on top of a very scaled down version of Windows Server 2008 64 bit OS. So what's the big deal about this - we already had Virtual Server. Well its quite a deal in terms of performance, if you had the chipset that supports hardware assisted Virtualization at the chip level - then you can set it up. BTW this is available only on certain chipset's, and should be enabled through the BIOS settings. It is turned off by default, when shipped from the factory. Intel calls Hyper-V capability - ie hardware assisted Virtualization Intel-VT and AMD calls it AMD-V.

The Hyper-V Release Candidate is available for download at : http://www.microsoft.com/virtualization/default.mspx 

OK back to Hyper-V. It is fundamentally different from Virtual Server, because there is no emulation, and the guest OS talks through the Hyper-Visor layer directly to the underlying hardware. It is pretty fast, and you will definitely see the difference.

You can read about Hyper-V from the Virtual_PC blog site:

http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/ - it contains a lot of info related to configuring and helping you to understand it.

http://blogs.msdn.com/virtual_pc_guy/archive/2008/03/25/hyper-v-management-tools-available-for-vista-sp1.aspx

So here is the deal. You can turn your hyper-V capable system into one running multiple OS's along with the host OS. So this enables various test and dev scenarios. Some of the laptops such as Lenovo T60P, T61P are capable of this, as well some Dell laptops ( I think D820 - you will have to check this, coz I have not checked the Dell myself). Now the cool thing is you can do a Server-CORE install, which is a very thinned down version of Windows Server (no bells and whistles) - and no GUI - yes guys - there is no GUI on a Windows OS (can you believe it) and this is incredibly fast, as it such a slimmed down version of OS, and you are saving memory by doing so, which you can then reclaim in your guest OS's.  On top of this thin OS, you can enable the Hyper-V role, and then add various guest OS's to run off of it. Now you might as well ask, there is no GUI on Server Core, so how in the world do I use the multiple OS environment. Well here is where if you have a second machine you can install what is called the Remote Server Admin Tools (RSAT) for Vista or Server OS, and then do all your management work from there.

There is another extremely useful feature of Hyper-V called Snapshot. Well what is a snapshot? - as the name indicates, you guessed it, well you can take snapshots of the running guest OS's at various times and then you can either merge into the base image or just keep it as it is. So say you had a series of OS snapshots you had taken and then you configured something and messed up - you could always revert to an earlier version of the snapshot, and go forward from there. So there's it guys - you don't have to be afraid that you will have to redo a lot of the work again from the beginning for such kinds of things. Just remember to take snapshots.

For managing the Hyper-V environment, the Hyper-V MMC is available from:
http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization/archive/2008/03/25/hyper-v-manager-mmc-now-available.aspx

Back to RSAT. You can get RSAT from:

· Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista with SP1 (x86): http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=9FF6E897-23CE-4A36-B7FC-D52065DE9960

· Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista with SP1(x64): http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=D647A60B-63FD-4AC5-9243-BD3C497D2BC5

RSAT is not supported on XP. Now what about server - well yes, you can always configure another machine with server OS and add the management roles too.

 

So there you have it, with this combination you can scale very well to run 3-4 guest OS's on a small  machine like a 4GB Laptop. Now I have not checked the server level hardware with lots of Memory, but definitely you should be able to run much more than 4 guest OS's on them and quite fast at that.

Now once you have multiple OS's, you can network them either as an internal only network, or a private network, or connect to the external world . So you see, you have several possibilities.

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