Hyper-V Server is offered as a standalone product by Microsoft apart from the Windows Server OS. As such, Microsoft recommends it for use among “organizations who want to consolidate on a single physical server or have low utilization infrastructure workloads, departmental applications, and branch office workloads.” Other recommended uses include test / development and VDI.
Given the limited scenarios for Hyper-V Server, some Microsoft TechEd attendees at this week’s conference said they’ll hold out for the full-fledged release.
“The only reason I would use [Hyper-V Server] would be for VDI or Linux,” said Nathaniel Avery, senior solutions architect at ActioNet in Washington DC. “But even then, with VDI, it’s a maybe, because then I’d be running multiple versions of Hyper-V in the same environment.”
The freebie hypervisor includes all the features of the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Hyper-V, which became available on May 31. The major update in the Release Candidate is greater scalability than was offered in the developer preview made available at the Build conference last year and the beta release out earlier this year.
Resource capacities per host have doubled with the Release Candidate — logical processors supported per host have gone from 160 to 320; physical memory from 2 to 4 TB; and virtual CPUs from 1024 to 2048. Virtual CPUs supported per VM have also doubled from 32 to 64.
Ben Rubenstein, Site Editor, SearchWindowsServer.com, contributed to this report.]]>
Veeam Backup Free Edition has no time limit on use, but it is limited in the amount of functions from the full Backup and Replication tool it offers. There’s no scheduler, no incremental backup, no replication, no deduplication, no Instant Recovery (Veeam’s term for its ability to run a virtual machine (VM) from a backup image), and no PowerShell support in the free edition.
What IT pros can do with the free edition is perform full backups of virtual machines; manage host and VM files (replacing a previous free offering called FastSCP); Instant File-Level Recovery (restore files directly from a backup images); and use a new feature called VeeamZIP.
VeeamZIP allows for a one-time ad-hoc backup of virtual machines with compression, so that they can fit on removable media such as a USB drive.
VMware Inc. users will also get a feature called Quick Migration with the free edition, which allows for the live migration of a running VM from a backup image to any host or data store, for users who don’t use clusters, shared storage and / or Storage vMotion. Quick Migration is also available for Hyper-V with the full Backup and Recovery, but not in the free version.
Update 6-8-2012: After this blog was published, Veeam got in touch with the following clarification: “Hyper-V VMs that go through an Instant VM Recovery task can be migrated back to production storage directly through Veeam. [But] Quick Migration is only a vSphere feature. The Quick-Migration -like feature for Hyper-V is actually only part of Instant VM Recovery.“
Veeam isn’t alone in offering a “freemium” model for its VM backup software, with a free subset of features held out to attract users to the pay-to-play goods. Altaro allows Hyper-V users to backup up to two VMs with its free version. PHD Virtual offers a free trial as well as a utility called VMNetBac, which backs up and restores the network configuration of VMs. Arkeia has its Virtual Appliance Free Use Edition, and Trilead its VM Explorer. Finally, VMware offers its own VMware Data Recovery tool bundled with Essentials Plus and Enterprise Plus licenses.
If you’re willing to use guest agents to save a few bucks, there are also a myriad of cheap-to-free open source backup options available.
The announcement of Free Edition coincides with the release of Veeam Backup and Replication 6.1, which adds Instant Recovery for Hyper-V, support for SCVMM 2012, and a new GUI.]]>
Altaro, which previously focused on desktop-level backups, plans to release software in August it says will be simpler and cheaper than other offerings on the market for Microsoft’s hypervisor.
The product, Altaro Hyper-V Backup, released its fourth beta version Monday. It’s meant for small and home offices (SOHO) and small to midsized businesses (SMBs). Its three editions will include a freeware version, which can backup two to three VMs on a single host; a Standard version covering up to five or six VMs; and an Unlimited license with support for Cluster Shared Volumes. The product will top out, pricing-wise, at under $500, though specific pricing has not yet been finalized.
In the next beta, file-level backups and a feature called FireDrill which allows users to test restores will also be included.
The Hyper-V Backup product sprang out of Altaro’s workstation backup tool, development of which it does on Hyper-V. When the company went to backup Hyper-V, according to Altaro CEO David Vella, “we found two extremes – one was simplistic traditional file level backups where the administrator is expected to know what files make up the virtual machine, [and] the other extreme was totally focused on the enterprise. There’s a gap — we wanted to have all the features that the enterprise product had but make it easy to use and affordable to SMBs.”
The product is still sanding down some rough edges – CSV support was only recently added after engineers at Altaro “burned the midnight oil” to get it supported, according to Vella. The management console leaves a bit to be desired in the current version, according to some beta testers – users can browse and restore backups taken on other hosts using the Altaro Import Backup feature, but the dashboard will only show the backups taken on the current host. Finally, the product will not include replication, a common checklist item in data protection, until after its GA release.
Hans Vredevoort, a consultant based in the Netherlands, said he’s been beta testing the product for a couple of months and is considering it for his home lab. “It’s not an enterprise type backup product and I don’t think it’s intended to be,” he said. “This product can be installed in about five to ten minutes, it’s really that simple. You don’t need to reboot the server – after ten minutes, you start backing up your first virtual machine.”]]>
Gartner has added Microsoft and Citrix to the leaders section of its server virtualization Magic Quadrant, recognizing the growth of Hyper-V and XenServer over the past year.
“Microsoft has increased its market share (especially among midmarket customers new to virtualization), and Citrix is leveraging its desktop virtualization strengths and its free XenServer offering to expand its server virtualization share,” Gartner analysts wrote.
To produce the Magic Quadrant, Gartner evaluates vendors on their products and services, overall viability, sales and marketing execution and more. VMware ranked the highest, with the most complete vision and best execution of that vision, but Microsoft and Citrix both scored high enough to make the leaders quadrant. Microsoft beat Citrix on “ability to execute,” and Citrix beat Microsoft on “completeness of vision.”
Gartner attributed Microsoft’s growth to Hyper-V’s success “among midmarket customers new to virtualization, where it is winning at least 30% of the time.” The firm cited Hyper-V’s low price and new features, such as Dynamic Memory, as drivers of this growth.
“At the hypervisor and basic administration level, Microsoft has closed most of its technology gaps with market leader VMware (which tends to have an advantage with higher-level management and automation tools),” the analysts wrote.
Gartner identified Citrix as the third-place vendor in terms of market share, attributing its growth to its popularity in the desktop virtualization market, plus the free edition of XenServer. But the analysts questioned Citrix’s friendly relationship with Microsoft and its effect on XenServer.
“Citrix’s go-to-market strategy regarding how it competes with/complements Microsoft remains confusing for many customers and channel partners,” they wrote.
VMware and others have tried to argue that free virtualization will actually cost you more money in the long run, but this Gartner report indicates that the free Microsoft and Citrix offerings are in fact striking a chord with certain customers.
The “VMware costs way too much” seed that Microsoft planted three years ago in Las Vegas has finally taken root. And with VMworld returning to Sin City this summer — and a new version of vSphere due before then — it would behoove VMware to finally address this issue.]]>
Greschler and Douglas A. Brown of the popular virtualization site DABCC.com have founded a new virtualization and cloud community site, PaperShare. Greschler is CEO, and Brown is CTO.
I have a note into Microsoft asking who the new director of virtualization and cloud will be. Amy Barzdukas, a general manager for Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, will have at least some role; she’s the company’s designated Hyper-V executive for press briefings at next month’s Worldwide Partner Conference. Barzdukas joined Microsoft in 1997 and has previously worked on consumer security and Internet Explorer.
Greschler was the co-founder of application virtualization vendor Softricity, which Microsoft acquired in 2006. During his time as director of virtualization and cloud, Hyper-V debuted and emerged as the number-two server virtualization platform — albeit a very distant number two — behind VMware.
PaperShare allows users (and vendors) to share white papers they think their friends and colleagues may be interested in, and it also includes social media aspects such as status updates, groups and messages. For more information, check out this interview with Greschler and Brown from VMblog.com.
UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): Edwin Yuen will replace Greschler as Microsoft’s director of virtualization and cloud strategy. Yuen also joined Microsoft as part of the Softricity acquisition, and he’s been another public face of Hyper-V over the past several years.]]>
French publication PC INpact reported last year that the next version of Hyper-V would be part of the Windows 8 operating system, and that indeed appears to be the case. Early this morning, Windows Now blogger Robert McLaws posted several screenshots of what he said is a leaked Windows 8 x64 build, which show Hyper-V as a feature that users can turn on or off through the control panel.
(The name of the next version of Hyper-V isn’t set in stone anywhere; PC INpact called it “Hyper-V V3″ in its report last year, but McLaws went with “Hyper-V 3.0,” although none of his screenshots use that name. We’ll stick with that for now, but beware that it may change.)
Microsoft already includes Hyper-V as part of the Windows Server OS, and it is apparently extending that strategy to the desktop in Windows 8. Adding Hyper-V 3.0 to Windows 8 opens the door for self-contained application virtualization — i.e., without relying on a virtual server back end — either through Microsoft App-V or Windows XP Mode, McLaws wrote.
“Building Hyper-V into the Windows 8 client could give Microsoft a way to support legacy Windows applications despite changes in Windows 8’s underlying architecture,” wrote Mary-Jo Foley on her All About Microsoft blog. (For more on the application virtualization possibilities with Hyper-V 3.0, check out this article on MinWin and the Hyper-V client hypervisor.)
The Hyper-V 3.0 feature that’s gotten the biggest buzz so far is the new virtual hard drive file format, VHDX, which will support disks up to 16 TB in size, according to McLaws. (The limit for Microsoft’s current format, VHD, is 2 TB per disk.) Hyper-V 3.0 will also support larger VMs and denser hosts, which is a trend we’ve seen in both vSphere 5 and XenServer 6.0 as well.
Other new Hyper-V 3.0 features include a virtual Fibre Channel adapter, storage resource pools and hardware-acceleration enhancements. Windows 8 is not expected to hit the market until deep into 2012, and it’s unclear if Hyper-V will be included in that original release, or if it will come later. We also don’t know if the next Windows Server version of Hyper-V is on the same timetable or not.]]>
ATLANTA — Thoughts collected while going up and down seven or eight escalators to get from one TechEd session to another…
VMM 2012: The beginning of the end for Virtual Server?
According to various reports around the blog- and Twittersphere from Microsoft users and partners, System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 will not support Microsoft’s Virtual Server 2005 R2 as a virtual machine host. This has users wondering if the release of SCVMM 2012 will represent the beginning of the end for Microsoft’s original hypervisor technology.
More items from the Hyper-V wish list
Users at TechEd explored Dynamic Memory and storage integration for Hyper-V, but there were also some miscellaneous items on their wish lists:
Microsoft adds to Linux guest support
Hyper-V will now support another flavor of Linux guest: CentOS. The Linux distribution competes with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which has a kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) hypervisor that competes with Hyper-V.
Vendors tout support for Hyper-V
ATLANTA — NetApp and Cisco have issued another reference architecture in partnership with a virtualization vendor. This time it’s Microsoft.
The NetApp Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track with Cisco data center architecture, announced Monday at TechEd North America, is a pre-tested reference architecture that includes Hyper-V, System Center, NetApp storage and Cisco’s Unified Computing System. A software bundle that includes the NetApp OnCommand”3.0 plug-in for Microsoft is also included.
To create that OnCommand plug-in, NetApp is using an Opalis-based workflow management system layered over several hundred custom PowerShell commandlets to communicate with System Center, rather than the Storage Management Initiative — Standard (SMI-S). Microsoft officials had said previously that SMI-S would be the basis for integration between storage partners and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012.
According to Ryan O’Hara, senior director in Microsoft’s management and security division, Microsoft will also collaborate directly with storage vendors such as NetApp to integrate with SCVMM 2012 through Opalis, management packs and PowerShell, in addition to the storage.
SMI-S is “one of the protocols by which we speak between Virtual Machine Manager and a broad array of storage vendors,” O’Hara said, calling the standard a “table-stakes protocol for communication.”
Microsoft officials had said that SCVMM 2012 would use SMI-S to connect with storage arrays because the development needed to integrate directly with vendor-specific APIs would be time consuming, given the different efforts required for each API.
SCVMM 2012 is now in beta and is expected to become available later this year. Some of the software’s features include support for automated, wizard-driven provisioning of server, network and storage hardware for virtual machine deployments.
Beta testers say they will be putting the storage integration through its paces before deploying SCVMM 2012 in production.
“So far [SCVMM 2012] works fine, but we want to test the SAN connection,” said Rob McShinsky, a senior systems engineer for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., who currently uses Hewlett-Packard’s EVA arrays.]]>
At the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) in Las Vegas, the company said System Center 2012 will “enable IT managers to deliver private cloud services” and “allow IT to carry forward current investments as they adopt public cloud computing.”
While news today about Microsoft’s presentations at MMS is fairly high-level, deeper details and demos on the virtualization management portion of System Center 2012, System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM 2012), were offered in November at Microsoft’s TechEd conference in Berlin.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also revealed a new reference customer this week, Target Corp., which recently made a move from Microsoft’s Virtual Server to Hyper-V at its 1,755 retail store locations in less than 45 days, according to a new guest blog post on Microsoft’s website by two members or Target’s technical team.
According to the post, Target began virtualizing its servers with Virtual Server in 2006 at its store locations. In each store’s control room during the summer of 2009, the company moved to running Hyper-V instead on pairs of Dell R710s, and was able to do so remotely through a combination of Microsoft and Target-written scripts.
Today, the company uses System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to manage 15,000 servers, 29,000 workstations, 52,000 point of sale registers, and has SCCM agents on some 70,000 mobile devices.
The project was prompted when performance bottlenecks with the legacy technology were slowing down how long it was taking store employees to unload trucks; following the conversion, “Hyper-V satisfied the demands of … [our applications] and helped us get those trucks unloaded on schedule,” the post reads.
Sounds hunky-dory on the surface, but Microsoft would not make Target reps available for follow-up questions. And the “win” here for Microsoft was technically against its own product; the only discussion of a competitive comparison with VMware was a relatively vague reference to the choice to go with MSVS over VMware in 2006, which is described as follows: “based on our analysis of the technologies at the time, and on our close relationship with the Microsoft product teams, we felt Microsoft offered the highest value for our investment.”
Especially in 2006, this was not the conclusion a majority of Target’s enterprise peers arrived at, judging by market share numbers to date. It would be extremely interesting to know exactly what had a blue-chip like Target becoming an early adopter of Microsoft’s virtualization.
Meanwhile, did Target re-evaluate VMware before going from Virtual Server to Hyper-V? Does the company run exclusively Hyper-V in its central data center? Why or why not? If it does, how does the remote experience with Hyper-V compare? If not, how does the remote experience with Hyper-V integrate with Target’s overall operations workflows? How will System Center 2012 change all that?
Along similar lines, what kept Target running its store infrastructure on Virtual Server until 2009, when many Microsoft shops had already made the jump to Hyper-V? And what’s on this retail giant’s wish list for the virtualization technology now that it has made the move?
The world may never know…
For a look at how Microsoft tried to pitch Target’s story with a cloud computing angle, check out Carl Brooks’ take.]]>
A so-called “fling” that lets vCenter manage Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines (VMs) is now available for download on the VMware Labs website.
The tool, dubbed XVP Manager, installs as a vCenter management plugin, according to demo videos on the VMware website. The IP addresses and authentication of Hyper-V hosts can be directly input into the vCenter/XVP system using the Add Host wizard within vCenter.
Users can also enter the IP address of a Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) server and select which of its VMs to import into the vCenter/XVP system for management, according to these videos. (And yes, there is a “select all” button.)
Host operations shown in the GUI on the demo video are basic, including adding and deleting, powering on and off, suspending, rebooting and connecting VMs to the network. A scroll bar on the screen during the demo suggests that more functionality will be available in this part of the tool. The same vCenter tabs already in use for getting a summary of the ESX/ESXi environment — as well as the Virtual Machines, Configuration and Tasks and Events tabs, won’t look any different with this tool; these functions can now just be applied to Hyper-V VMs. There is also a Console tab that handles direct connection into a third-party VM’s management console.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/mWsjEvLwIT0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Guest operations similar to the demonstrated host operations are also available within XVP for individual Hyper-V VMs. Memory, CPU, storage and peripherals can be managed on a per-Hyper-V-VM basis with this tool.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/yNZ3jUrhYKQ" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Oh, and by the way, those Hyper-V VMs can also be converted to vSphere images using of XVP.
There’s no guarantee that XVP will be an officially released product, or when it might be offered as something beyond technology preview software. The VMware Lab terms and conditions state, “VMware is under no obligation to support the Technology Preview Software in any way or to provide any Updates to [the] Licensee.”
However, one of the main differentiatiors between vCenter and SCVMM over the last year or so has been that vCenter focuses on managing VMware software products only, including its hypervisor, while SCVMM can manage Hyper-V and VMware environments. As competition is also expected to heat up between SCVMM 2012 and VMware’s vCloud Director later this year, it wouldn’t be surprising if VMware also looks to erase that distinction between its VM management tool and Microsoft’s.]]>