Advanced networking finally comes to Windows virtualization with Hyper-V 3.0

Cisco to make previously VMware-only Nexus 1000V virtual switch available to Microsoft Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V

New features in Microsoft's Hyper-V 3.0, such as scalability improvements, Live Migration, Storage Migration, replication, and networking enhancements, are quickly closing the technology gap between Microsoft and VMware vSphere. Microsoft previewed Windows Server 8 along with the next generation of its hypervisor technology at its Build conference last week.

While these new features are highly anticipated, it is important to note that this software is still in pre-beta and is currently intended for developers, not for general use by administrators in a production data center environment.

[ Also on Windows 8 with Hyper-V will require new hardware. | Also read about my five lessons learned from VMworld 2011. | Keep up on virtualization by signing up for InfoWorld's Virtualization newsletter. ]

Even though Hyper-V 3.0 could be a year or more away from general release, its feature set may be enough to cause virtualization administrators to pause and take a serious look at the technology. Thanks to the new vSphere 5 vRAM pricing structure implemented by VMware, there's even more reason for people to think about their virtual future.

Particularly noteworthy within Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V 3.0 are the changes Microsoft has made to networking. Normally Microsoft looks at networking and infrastructure components as little more than the plumbing, and has typically relied on third-party companies and OEM hardware vendors to step up to the plate and make networking extensible. This is just one more reason why Microsoft has fallen way short in the race against VMware.

But while Redmond may take a while to make a course correction, in the end it often does listen to its most vocal critics. Case in point, the company's next-generation platform adds quite a bit of new functionality around networking -- much of it long overdue if you ask almost any virtualization administrator. Microsoft is taking the fight back to VMware by trying to match VMware's vSwitch feature for feature. In keeping with the changes in Hyper-V's compute capabilities and storage, Microsoft has made sweeping changes with port ACLs, private VLANs, per-vNIC bandwidth reservations, QoS, metering, OpenFlow support, VN-Tag support, and network introspection -- all without requiring expensive network devices.

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