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4 Killer New Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Features

There are so many conferences and so many announcements happening that it is hard to prioritize what to cover. We just came out of the best Citrix Synergy ever and I have so much content to cover still, and we're already deep into Microsoft TechEd and I am just surprised at the amount of new technologies and features that I will have to cover there. Well done, Microsoft. All the while Dell has some interesting announcements that I want to cover and we will soon be heading to VMworld. What I need is to stretch the calendar year for more days and start writing more frequently.

Back to TechEd 2013. If you have been following the show, the announcements are really cool and what I am particularly interested in are Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 -- especially Hyper-V features, VMM 2012 R2, heck a lot of products from Microsoft.

This time, let's look at my four favorite new features of Hyper-V:

Shared VHDX
Probably the best feature of this release by my analysis, clustering has always been a complicated subject in VMs and for many customers of Hyper-V the question was always, why can't I share the VHDX? Well, now you can and to make it even better you don't need to have an iSCSI or FC SAN to do so. Now, you can accomplish this by placing the VHDX on a file server share if you want and share the VHDX that way, thereby significantly simplifying the process and the requirements. For those that are wondering if you can live migrate VMs, the answer is yes. For those that are wondering if you can storage live migrate, the answer is no.

Faster Live Migration
Live Migration is such an important part of any administrator's worklife, in some cases it can be the determining factor on whether or not you are going to make your evening commitments and a social life. Windows Server 2012 R2 has two new improvements for Live Migration. The first is enabled by default and is compression based. The way it works is by analyzing the host for CPU utilization and if CPU cycles are available, they are used to compress the VM. As a result, you're sending fewer bytes over the wire and live migrating the VM twice as fast as you would without compression.

The second form of faster live migration -- "freaky fast live migration" -- requires newer hardware in order to make it work. For this type of migration, you will need network adapters that support RDMA. This option is called SMB Direct because it leverages SMB 3.0 -- specifically, the multi-channel capabilities of SMB 3.0 -- and you can expect 10x improvements. That is pretty darn fast. Microsoft recommends that if you have 10Gb or better use SMB Direct; for everything else, use the compression method.

Replica to Third Site
One of the features that we all loved about Hyper-V is the replica feature, except it was limited to one replica and while that might be sufficient in some cases, I have noticed that most of my customers would always want the ability to replicate a copy locally and a copy to a third site . In some cases, customers wanted to replicate a copy to another datacenter and then one to the cloud. Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V allows you to do just that, enabling enterprises and service providers to satisfy replica needs. Many of my large enterprise customers will be happy to see this feature.

VM Direct Connect
Anytime Remote Desktop Services are used to enhance an architecture, you will see thumbs up from me. What can I say? I am a Terminal Services old timer. One of the annoying things with Hyper-V has been the inability to do rich copy and paste between the VM console and the desktop that you are connecting from. That included just clipboard copy and paste and also file copy and paste. In addition, there was no USB support available, so the user experience was not the greatest.

In this new R2 release, Microsoft has reconfigured the architecture to use RDS, even without a network connection. You are probably wondering how that even possible, considering RDS requires an IP address and the network for proper connectivity. Well, the new technology that is enabling RDS without network connectivity is leveraging the VM Bus. Now your VM console connection will enable rich copy and paste, file copy and paste, USB support leveraging RDS technology, all with no network connectivity requirements. That is pretty sweet.

I'll follow up in the weeks ahead with more technical detail on each, but I'll stop there for now and see if we can start a conversation on your favorite features from this list or other features that I have not covered. There are plenty more to talk about, so I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 06/05/2013 at 1:31 PM


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