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The Hyper-V Primer

20+ Days of Server Virtualization (Part 1 of 20)

To kick off our series of “20+ Days of Server Virtualization” articles, I’m going to introduce you to Hyper-V.

“Introduce?  It’s not new!”

True.  But even though many of you may have heard of Microsoft’s virtualization solution, you may not know much about it.  And so to start our series, a brief introduction and some related, useful resources to get you ready for the month are definitely worth sharing.  So let’s answer the following questions: What is Hyper-V?  How do I get Hyper-V?  Is it hard to use?  And then I’ll wrap up the article with some additional resource links.

What Is IT Hyper-V?
is just a part of the full Microsoft virtualization solution.  It is the engine that supports running multiple virtualized installations of operating systems on top of a single physical operating system.  Hyper-V is a “microkernalized hypervisor”, which is fancy-talk for “it’s a very thin layer that runs underneath the installed operating system”, to support many “machines” (including the main OS) running on and sharing the resources of the hardware.  Even though your Windows Server 2012 or even Windows 8 with Hyper-V enabled is installed on hardware, virtualization is actually even supporting that main operating system as what is known as the “Parent (or Root) Partition”; still running on top of virtualization, but having higher-priority than the “child partitions” that are the virtualized machines.

Here’s a detailed Hyper-V Architecture diagram showing this relationship between the hardware and the partitioning involved:

Hyper-V architecture overview

For an explanation of other aspects of this architecture, please refer to this document: Hyper-V Architecture

So in summary – Hyper-V is fast and efficient, and imposes minimal overhead in how the hardware is used to efficiently run all of the machines at the same time and on the same shared hardware.

How Do I Get Hyper-V?
The latest version of Hyper-V is included with Windows Server 2012; both Standard and Datacenter editions.  It comes as a FREE hypervisor in the form of Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012.  And finally, it’s also included for enabling on Windows 8 Professional and Enterprise editions (64-bit only).  Click here for an overview and an explanation of the hardware requirements.

“Ah.. you say there’s a free version of Hyper-V?  Is that like Microsoft’s answer to the free ESXi server?”

Well.. yes, and no.  Yes, it’s a free platform for virtualization.  But unlike ESXi, there are no restrictions or limitations of functionality.  Everything that you can do and support with Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012, (Massive machine scale, Live Migration, Live Storage Migration, Windows Failover Clustering, Hyper-V Replication, etc.) are all fully supported exactly the same on the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server as they are on Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012.

Is It Hard to Use?
It’s actually quite easy.  Once installed, you will start out by using the Hyper-V Manager; which is the included management tool.  (This same tool is available for installation along with other Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) on workstations from where you’ll be doing remote management, such as your Windows 8 workstation.)

Here’s a quick video showing you how easy it is to create and configure a new virtual machine using Hyper-V…

I recommend viewing this at the highest resolution, full-screen.


Here are some links to other useful resources and information:


I hope you found this useful!  Make sure you keep following this series for even more detail on some of what I’ve just barely touched on in this article.

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More Stories By Kevin Remde

Kevin is an engaging and highly sought-after speaker and webcaster who has landed several times on Microsoft's top 10 webcast list, and has delivered many top-scoring TechNet events and webcasts. In his past outside of Microsoft, Kevin has held positions such as software engineer, information systems professional, and information systems manager. He loves sharing helpful new solutions and technologies with his IT professional peers.

A prolific blogger, Kevin shares his thoughts, ideas and tips on his “Full of I.T.” blog (http://aka.ms/FullOfIT). He also contributes to and moderates the TechNet Forum IT Manager discussion (http://aka.ms/ITManager), and presents live TechNet Events throughout the central U.S. (http://www.technetevents.com). When he's not busy learning or blogging about new technologies, Kevin enjoys digital photography and videography, and sings in a band. (Q: Midlife crisis? A: More cowbell!) He continues to challenge his TechNet Event audiences to sing Karaoke with him.