Virtualization Microsoft Hyper V Review

Microsoft Hyper V Review

Microsoft Hyper-V: The Bottom line

Microsoft Hyper-V lagged behind VMware’s virtualization tool, one of the most popular tools in the space, when it was first released as a standalone product in 2016.  But over the years, Hyper-V has steadily grown to be a worthy adversary. VMware still wins out on sheer breadth of virtualization features, but not everyone needs so many bells and whistles. Server virtualization with Hyper-V gains ground on VMware because it’s cheaper and is optimized for integration with Microsoft products.

For enterprises running Windows shops, Microsoft Hyper-V is a top choice. Not only is it now a mature product, but its integration and interoperability with today’s data centers is clearly the result of expert design. Hyper-V also allows organizations to build both private and public clouds making it a powerful tool for companies looking to move their systems and applications to a cloud-based network. 

If you would like to learn about the other options available in this marketplace, check out our full list of the best server virtualization software for enterprises.

What to expect from Hyper-V

Hyper-V lets you create and run virtual machines (VMs), each running in its own space. This prevents problems such as a crash affecting other workloads or giving people, groups or services access to the wrong systems. The hypervisor manages the interactions between the hardware and the VMs. Hyper-V consists of various parts that work together: Windows hypervisor, Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management Service, the virtualization Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) provider, the virtual machine bus (VMbus), virtualization service provider (VSP) and virtual infrastructure driver (VID).

This Microsoft server virtualization solution includes a variety of tools for management and connectivity. This includes the Hyper-V Manager, the Hyper-V module for Windows PowerShell, the Virtual Machine Connection, and the Windows PowerShell Direct. Hyper-V enables you to set up or expand private clouds, consolidate servers and workloads onto fewer servers, improve disaster recovery, run a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and improve dev/test operations.

Hyper-V also supports both emulated and Hyper-V-specific devices for Linux and FreeBSD VMs. No additional software is required for emulated devices. 

Supported Servers and Operating Systems

Microsoft Hyper-V supports software that runs on x86.

Implementing Hyper-V

Microsoft Hyper-V is available in Windows Server and as a server role available for x64 versions of Windows Server. It’s also available as a downloadable, standalone server product.

Platform Scalability

Hyper-V can support up to 240 virtual processors per VM, 512 virtual processors per host and 12 TB of memory per VM. 

Overhead

One downside to Hyper-V is that it requires frequent operating system and security updates. This means more overhead—anywhere from 9% to 12%.

Managing your virtualization software 

Hyper-V comes with built-in integration services for many of the guest operating systems (OSs) it supports. This removes much of the hassle of setting up and operating these systems in the VM. For some older versions of Windows, you may need to install or upgrade integration services separately. Virtual Machine Connection is a remote connection tool for use with Windows and Linux to see what’s happening in the guest even when the operating system isn’t booted.

Microsoft System Center 2016 with its Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) helps users take full advantage of Hyper-V. An organization with Windows 2016 Datacenter edition and System Center 2016 Datacenter edition can deploy unlimited VMs across the licensed host, as well as use and manage all Hyper-V capabilities. Admins well-versed with Microsoft products should have no problem picking up and running with Hyper-V.

Many users praise how easy it is to manage device drivers with Hyper-V. All device drivers are installed directly into the OS running in the Controlling Layer, which VMs can then use to access the hardware. One thing lacking in this Microsoft server virtualization solution is an interface that provides a unified view of operation efficiency. 

Patching and backup

Patching is done automatically via Windows Server and includes Hyper-V patches. For disaster recovery, Hyper-V Replica creates copies of virtual machines to be stored in another physical location. For backup, Hyper-V offers two options: one method leverages saved states, the other uses Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to make application-consistent backups.

Migrating VMs

Features such as live migration, storage migration, and import/export make it easier to move or distribute a virtual machine. With live migration, Hyper-V allows admins to quickly and easily move running VMs to other hosts with no downtime. 

Security

Microsoft makes a point to include some of the latest innovations in VM cybersecurity that make up Hyper-V’s comprehensive Shielded Virtual Machines feature. This feature includes the following components:

  • Secure Boot prevents unauthorized firmware, OSs or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) drivers from running during a boot.
  • BitLocker encryption scrambles and protects data both at rest and when being transmitted during Live Migrations.
  • Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM) safely store the keys and artifacts encrypted by BitLocker.
  • The Host Guardian Service provides attestation that validates hosts and prevents unauthorized access to users who could alter settings or view the contents of a VM.

Key Markets

Hyper-V was built to primarily serve Windows Server users, Microsoft customers and Azure customers.

Cost

One large reason companies use Microsoft server virtualization is because it’s cost-effective. The basic Hyper-V package is included for free with an enterprise agreement. Organizations looking for more advanced functionality and a larger suite of features with the Microsoft System Center (MSC) will need to upgrade to the paid version. However, the paid package is still more affordable than many of its competitors.

Without Microsoft System Center (MSC): 

Free

With MSC:

Standard: $1,323 for up to 16 cores

Datacenter: $3,607 for up to 16 cores

Product

 

Microsoft Hyper-V

 

Platforms

 

x86

Scalability

 

240 vCPUs per VM

512 virtual processors per host 

12 TB of memory per VM

Overhead %

 

9 to 12

Markets

 

Windows Server users, Microsoft/Azure customers

Cost

 

Standard: $1,323 for up to 16 cores

Datacenter: $3,607 for up to 16 cores

Migration

 

Live migration and import/export enables easy VM movement without downtime

Key Differentiator

 

Top offering for Windows data centers

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