I always think that it is a good idea to look back so you can see the way things are heading so I will begin with a bit of history.
Microsoft first released Hyper-V on 26th June 2008. Hyper-V started to knock on the door of other enterprise virtualization technologies with the release of Server 2008 R2 in September 2009 this version included the ability to configure Hyper-V in a clustered configuration with failover capabilities and shared storage so that if one of your Hyper-V servers rebooted during patching etc. your virtual servers would live migrate to another node in your Hyper-V farm.
The capabilities of Hyper-V were further enhanced with the release of Service Pack 1 for server 2008 R2. This added the dynamic RAM capability to Hyper-V, meaning that you could allocate a minimum and maximum amount of RAM to your virtual machines so that when your virtual machines need to use more RAM for an operation they will expand the amount of memory allocated and then return it when not needed. And with the upcoming release of Windows Server “8” Hyper-V will be extended even more.
As you can see, Microsoft are investing a lot in their virtualization technology and adding more enterprise features. But the real benefit is on the cost saving front. If you check out the table below, you can see the licensing benefits and with the new improved EES licensing, it makes much more sense to run the Datacentre edition of Windows server 2008. This will mean that you can run an unlimited amount of virtual servers but only pay for one server license for each of your hosts.
Windows Server Version
Number Of Free Licences
Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition
Windows Server 2008 Datacentre Edition
The undoubted power saving features is very attractive as you are running fewer physical servers, so electrical costs will drop. You will also save money on cooling your server room so depending on the amount of physical servers that you virtualize you may find it possible to turn off that expensive air conditioning system.
Rather than having a set of physical servers running at a small percentage of their total capacity, Hyper-V allows you to make use of all the processing power and RAM of a physical box and therefore get the most out of your physical hardware.
As you can see from the table below the support for operating systems is extremely wide and covers all Microsoft server versions from Windows 2000 server right up to Server 2008 and also includes some versions of Linux.
1,2,3 or 4
Both x86-32 and x86-64, all editions except home editions (the home editions are Home Premium, Home Basic, and Starter)
Windows Server 2008 R2
x64, Web, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre
Windows Server 2008
Both x86 and x64, Web, HPC, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre, with or without Hyper-V
Linux (SUSE, Red Hat Enterprise or CentOS fully supported, other distros may work)
1,2 or 4
Both x86 and x64
Windows Server 2003
1 or 2
Both x86 and x64, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre, SP2 required
Windows Server 2003 R2
Web, Standard, Enterprise, Datacentre, both x86 and x64 except for Web whose 64-bit version is not supported
Windows 2000 Server
Server, Advanced Server, SP4 required
Both x86 and x64, all editions except home editions
x86, Professional edition only, SP3 required (SP2 only supports 1 virtual CPU)
Windows XP x64 Edition
x64, Professional edition only, SP2 required
Windows Small Business Server 2011
1, 2 or 4
Essentials, Standard (Essentials supports only 2 virtual CPUs)
Windows Home Server 2011
Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials
We have completed many roll outs of Hyper-V and we have yet to find a server technology role that is not supported be that SharePoint, SQL, Exchange and Active Directory my only advice is do not virtualize all your active directory servers always keep at least one physical for disaster recovery.
Microsoft provides a tool for this as well in the shape of System Centre Virtual Machine Manager. This management tool installs an agent on old physical servers then does a P2V (Physical to Virtual) on these servers virtualizing them and bringing them into your Hyper-V environment. You can as well manage your virtual servers using this product.
For more information on running Hyper-V in your organisation including what hardware to buy, please contact SharePointEduTech at firstname.lastname@example.org