Review: Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 narrows the gap
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V combines easy setup and management with new features that lower the entry barrier to highly available virtualization clusters
PowerShell 3.0 is without question one of the other huge productivity gains for IT administrators responsible for supporting Windows Server 2012. With something like 2,430 new "cmdlets," there isn't an area of managing a Windows Server 2012 deployment without some support through PowerShell. With respect to Hyper-V 2012, there are upward of 140 unique cmdlets for managing all aspects of creating, provisioning, and running VMs. That number also includes cmdlets for managing the virtual network switch and other Hyper-V 2012 configuration parameters.
The next level of VM management comes in the form of Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). SCVMM 2012 is the latest version but does not support Windows Server 2012 unless you apply Service Pack 1. Microsoft does offer a fully functional Hyper-V instance of SCVMM 2012 SP1 that includes the required SQL Server back end. You can install this on a Hyper-V 2012 host and manage other Windows Server 2012 systems once the configuration is complete. SCVMM 2012 is definitely the way to go for any organization with a large number of VMs.
Hyper-V 2012 includes a number of improvements in the area of performance. As you can see from the comparative table, which shows Sandra 2013 test results for a 32-bit Windows 7 SP1 VM, the most obvious is in the area of the crypto bandwidth tests. Previous versions of Hyper-V did not support AES-NI instructions in Intel's Westmere CPUs or in the AMD Bulldozer CPUs. Hyper-V 2012 provides this support, as the numbers clearly show. Almost across the board, my Sandra results showed performance of Hyper-V 2012 improved over Hyper-V 2008 and even VMware vSphere 5.1. (Note: I did not test performance of Linux VMs.)
|Hyper-V 2008 R2||Hyper-V 2012||vSphere 5.0||vSphere 5.1|
|Cryptographic bandwidth (MBps)||79||597||370||378|
|Dhrystone integer (GIPS)||12.52||16.86||11.76||12.21|
|Whetstone double (GFLOPS)||6.92||13.25||6.76||6.89|
|Intercore bandwidth (GBps)||1.71||1.44||1.15||1.12|
Other areas of performance gain are hard to measure directly but are present nonetheless. These include the virtual SAN support, which allows you to connect a VM directly to a virtual Fibre Channel host bus adapter. This makes it possible to provision a VM with direct-attached storage to support specific workloads that in the past would have required a dedicated server. Another key improvement in the I/O area is new support for Single-Root I/O Virtualization. Allowing supporting physical network interfaces to be carved into multiple virtual NICs, SR-IOV improves the Hyper-V host's networking functionality and overall throughput.
Hyper-V 2012 combines significant management and usability improvements with solid performance, especially for the purpose of virtualizing many typical Windows workloads. New PowerShell cmdlets streamline the process of automating many of the tedious administration tasks previously requiring significant amounts of hands-on time. While there aren't any huge performance improvements from the individual guest perspective, the new I/O bandwidth features could represent significant areas for gains. When you couple that with other new OS features like SMB failover and clustering, you have the makings of a solid foundational product.
This article, "Review: Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 narrows the gap," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization, data center, and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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