My Favorite Features of Hyper-V 3.0 on Windows Server 2012 – Part Two
Last month I wrote a blog discussing my top five favorite features of Hyper-V 3.0 on Windows Server 2012. The blog was very popular, so popular that I have created a second blog on more of my favorite Hyper-V 3.0 features.
What it is: Track changed blocks of VM disks for improved backup efficiency
Why it’s cool: Whenever I speak at an event, I like to ask the audience thought-provoking questions such as, “Are the White Sox a better ball club than the Cubs?”, or “ Will the Bears beat the Packers?”, or better yet, “Who here loves managing server backups?”. There’s usually an impassioned shouting match with the first two questions, but the third one stumps us all and keeps everyone in the audience very quiet. I’d like to think this is because my questions are profound, but the reality of the situation is that nobody likes dealing with backups. NOBODY! So anything that takes some of the sting out of backups is always welcome. Hyper-V 3.0 drastically improves backup efficiency thanks to the built-in ability to track changed blocks of virtual hard disks. Supported backup software can then back up just the changed blocks, slashing the time it takes to back up your VMs.
Why it matters for business: Your backups are the defensive linemen against would-be-disasters. Improving the efficiency and quality of the backups and thereby enhancing the business’ ability to recover from an outage will make you a hero.
Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX)
What it is: Achieve near-native copy performance of large amounts of data by offloading the operations to the storage device
Why it’s cool: If you’ve ever tried to perform virtual hard disk maintenance tasks such as merge, move and compact, you know how painfully slow they can be. Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX) in Hyper-V 3.0, when used with “copy offload” capable SAN hardware, lets the storage system perform the large file copy operations without the Hyper-V host reading the content from one storage array and write it to another.
Why it matters for business: Get the most out of your Hyper-V host and storage hardware, which translates to lower CAPEX and OPEX.
Virtual Fibre Channel Support for VM
What it is: Access Fibre Channel SAN LUNs directly from VMs
Why it’s cool: Let’s face it: Fibre Channel (FC) SAN is not cheap. Although iSCSI has gained in popularity, FC isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If you have invested in FC SAN, you’ll be happy to know that now with Hyper-V 3.0, you can access the LUNs directly from the VMs, which extends the usefulness of the investment. For example, if you have systems that use direct access to FC storage and want to keep it that way, you can virtualize such workloads with Hyper-V. Support for FC in Hyper-V includes guest OS clustering, live migration, multi-path IO (MPIO), and N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV), opening up new ways to leverage your investment.
Why it matters for business: Let your CFO know that you’ll be repurposing your existing hardware to improve the ROI and TCO. You might actually get that bump in the IT budget that you’ve been looking for. Everyone wins.
Dynamic Memory Improvements
What it is: Significantly improved virtual machine memory management
Why it’s cool: Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 introduced dynamic memory for Hyper-V. In Windows Server 2012, significant improvements have been added to dynamic memory including Hyper-V Smart Paging for a more reliable VM restarts and the ability to change dynamic memory configuration on the fly. These improvements result in better VM density per host, reliability of Hyper-V operations, and a more flexible infrastructure.
Why it matters for business: Your VP of Finance will like the fact that you are right-sizing the hardware instead over-buying “just in case.” Improving the reliability of the server infrastructure will make everyone happy.
Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) Support for VM
What it is: NUMA support for VMs increases memory access performance
Why it’s cool: The basic concept of NUMA is that a processor can access memory that is local to itself faster than memory that is remote (on another processor). With NUMA improvements in Hyper-V 3.0, the guest OS and applications can make intelligent decisions for efficient memory mapping. Got a resource-hungry, NUMA-aware workloads like Microsoft SQL Server? NUMA can help you get even more juice out of that SQL VM.
Why it matters for business: Make your customers and business units happy by improving performance of demanding applications.