What’s New in Hyper-V in Technical Preview

What is this about?

  • Giving you a detailed view of everything you can do with Hyper-V in Windows Server Technical Preview
  • It is not… A complete overview of everything that will be in the final release of Windows Server
  • It is not… A end-to-end story about what Microsoft are working on

Rolling Hyper-V Cluster Upgrade

Without question, the biggest and broadest new feature in Hyper-V for the Technical Preview is the Rolling Hyper-V Cluster Upgrade. This capability offers a familiar construct called Cluster Functional Level. This permits a cluster to have a host running the Technical Preview for a Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster and move virtual machines (VMs) to the new hosts, permitting host upgrades of the older hosts. This is meant as a cluster upgrade technique; it’s not a broad backward- and forward-compatible administration technique for long-term existence, but rather a framework for how clusters will be upgraded going forward.

Rolling Hyper-V Cluster Upgrade – This is great news for shops running large-scale Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster nodes who want to add a test or production node running the latest version of Hyper-V to their environment. Until all nodes have been upgraded to the latest version, the cluster will continue to function at a Windows Server 2012 R2 feature level, but this allows companies to test and roll-out upgrades in a much more orderly fashion.

That means that you can now upgrade a 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster to Windows Server Technical Preview with:

  • No new hardware
  • No downtime
  • The ability to roll-back safely if needed

But this is not the end, New VM Upgrade Process. To compare the old one with the new

Windows Server 2012 R2:

  • Hyper-V automatically upgrades virtual machines to the latest version
  • No ability to roll-back the upgrade process

Windows Server Technical Preview:

  • Hyper-V will not automatically upgrade virtual machines
  • Upgrading a virtual machine is a manual operation that is separate from upgrading the host
  • Individual virtual machines can be moved back to earlier versions, until they have been manually upgraded
  • Powershell upgrade                         /Update VMConfigurationVersion/

Integration Services
Also a cool feature in the Technical Preview I’m happy to see is that Integration Services are now delivered through Windows Update to the Hyper-V guest VMs. This has been a real pain point in the past. Take, for example, a situation in which there’s a Windows Server 2012 R2 host (with no update), and a VM that’s created and is running Integration Services. Then assume that the host is updated (via Windows Update) and a subsequent VM is created. The two VMs now have different versions of Integration Services. Troubleshooting in this scenario is no fun.

Changing how Microsoft handle VM servicing

Windows Server 2012 R2:

  • VM drivers (integration services) updated with each new host release
  • Require that VM driver version matches the host
  • Drivers shipped with host operating system

Windows Server Technical Preview:

  • VM drivers (integration services) updated when needed
  • Require latest available VM drivers for that guest operating system
  • Drivers delivered directly to the guest operating system via Windows Update

The Growing Role of UEFI Secure Boot in Linux Distributions, now on Windows server

The UEFI specification defines an industry-leading interface between the operating system (OS) and the platform firmware, improving the performance, flexibility and security of computing devices. Designed for scalability, extensibility and interoperability, UEFI technology streamlines technological evolution of platform firmware. In 2013, developers of several open-source Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu 12.10, Fedora 18 and OpenSUSE 12.3, began using UEFI specifications in their distributions.

Additional features of UEFI include improved security in the pre-boot mode, faster booting, support of drives larger than 2.2 Terabytes and integration with modern 64-bit firmware device drivers. UEFI standards are platform-independent and compatible with a variety of platform architectures—meaning, users of several different types of operating systems, including both Linux and commercial systems, can enjoy the benefits of UEFI. Equally, because the UEFI specification includes bindings for multiple CPU architectures, these benefits apply on a variety of hardware platforms with these operating systems.

  • Providing kernel code integrity protections for Linux guest operating systems.
  • Ubuntu 14.04 and later
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12
  • PowerShell to enable this: Set-VMFirmware”Ubuntu” -SecureBootTemplateMicrosoftUEFICertificateAuthority

Storage Quality of Service – Hyper-V technical preview allows you to create storage QoS policies on Scale-Out File Server and assign them to one or more virtual disks on Hyper-V virtual machines. This is a new feature to Hyper-V.

Windows Server Technical Preview:

  • Leveraging Scale Out File Server to allow you to:
  • Define IOPs reserves for important virtual hard disks
  • Define a IOPs reserve and limit that is shared by a group of virtual machines / virtual hard disks

Evolving Hyper-V Backup

  • New architecture to improve reliability, scale and performance.
  • Decoupling backing up virtual machines from backing up the underlying storage.
  • No longer dependent on hardware snapshots for core backup functionality, but still able to take advantage of hardware capabilities when they are present.

Built in change tracking for Backup

  • Most Hyper-V backup solutions today implement kernel level file system filters in order to gain efficiency.
  • Makes it hard for backup partners to update to newer versions of Windows
  • Increases the complexity of Hyper-V deployments
  • Efficient change tracking for backup is now part of the platform

VM Configuration Changes

  • New virtual machine configuration file
  • Binary format for efficient performance at scale
  • New file extensions  .VMCX and .VMRS
  • Resilient logging for changes

Replica Support for Hot Add of VHDX

  • When you add a new virtual hard disk to a virtual machine that is being replicated –it is automatically added to the not-replicated set. This set can be updated online

Runtime Memory Resize

  • Dynamic memory is great, but more can be done.
  • For Windows Server Technical Preview guests, you can now increase and decrease the memory assigned to virtual machines while they are running.

 Hot add / remove of network adapters

  • Network adapters can be added and removed from Generation 2 virtual machines while they are running.

Network Adapter Identification

  • You can name individual network adapters in the virtual machine settings –and see the same name inside the guest operating system.

Hyper-V Manager Improvements, Multiple improvements to make it easier to remotely manage and troubleshoot Hyper-V Servers:

Hypervisor power management improvements

  • Updated hypervisor power management model to support new modes of power management.

RemoteFX

  • Support for OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL1.1 API
  • Larger dedicated VRAM and configurable VRAM.

Hyper-V Cluster Management

  • Providing a single view of an entire Hyper-V cluster through WMI
  • “Just one big Hyper-V server”
  • Enumerate virtual machines
  • Receive notification of live migration events
  • RootHyperVClusterv2

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