With the release of Windows Server 2012 yesterday, Microsoft significantly updated its Hyper-V virtualization platform. Available both as part of Server 2012 and as a free (as in beer) standalone installation, the third generation of Hyper-V brings with it a collection of features that largely commoditize the sorts of things you’ve gotten used to having to pay extra for. There are even a few features you couldn’t do at all with other hypervisors (like live migration of a server from one server to another with no shared storage between the two).
Hyper-V supports a host of high-availability and “resiliency” features, such as off-site replication of servers. And it does many of those things as well or better than offerings from VMware and Citrix—regardless of whether you’re virtualizing Windows servers, Windows desktops, or Linux. And then there’s the free part: while the licenses for Windows Server itself are tied to a specific set of hardware, other operating systems can be hosted on the standalone Hyper-V server and managed as part of the same environment. All with the same sort of manageability.
In this first look at Hyper-V 2012, we look at some of the high points of the hypervisor and its management environment from the perspective of a small to mid-sized enterprise. While many of the new features have been available on other virtualization platforms for some time, Hyper-V matters largely because of the way that Microsoft has tied them all up in a relatively simple and inexpensive package. This could potentially save organizations a significant amount of money—while preserving their sanity as well.
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