Microsoft Hyper-V: A reminder of where we’re at

Earlier this week I saw a tweet from the MIX 2011 conference that highlighted how Microsoft’s Office 365 software as a service platform runs entirely on their Hyper-V hypervisor.

There are those (generally those who have a big investment in VMware technologies) who say Microsoft’s hypervisor lacks the features to make it suitable for use in the enterprise. I don’t know how much bigger you have to get than Office 365, but the choice of hypervisor is becoming less and less relevant as we move away from infrastructure and concentrate more on the platform.

Even so, now that Hyper-V has reached the magical version 3 milestone (at which people generally start to accept Microsoft products) I thought it was worth a post to look back at where Hyper-V has come from, and where it’s at now:

Looking at some of the technical features:

  • Dynamic memory requires Windows 2003 SP2 or later (and is not yet supported for Linux guests). It’s important to understand the differences between over subscription and over commitment.
  • Performance is as close as no difference for differentiator between hypervisors.
  • Hyper-V uses Windows clustering for high availability – the same technology as is used for live migration.
  • In terms of storage scalability – it’s up to the customer to choose how to slice/dice storage – with partner support for multipathing, hardware snapshotting, etc. Hyper-V users can have 1 LUN for each VM, or for 1000 VMs (of course, no-one would actually do this).
  • Networking also uses the partner ecosystem – for example HP creates software to allow NIC teaming on its servers, and Hyper-V can use a virtual switch to point to this.
  • In terms of data protection, the volume shadow copy service on the host is used an there are a number of choices to make around agent placement. A single agent can be deployed to the host, with all guests protected (allowing whole machine recovery) or guests can have their own agents to allow backups at the application level (for Exchange, SQL Server, etc.).

I’m sure that competitor products may have a longer list of features but in terms of capability, Hyper-V is “good enough” for most scenarios I can think of – I’d be interested to hear what barriers to enterprise adoption people see for Hyper-V?

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