After years of planning and development, Microsoft made the first supported version of its Hyper-V virtualisation software available for download today. Bill Laing, general manager of the Windows Server Division, told The Hypervisor, “The final release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Hyper-V for Windows Server 2008 will be available for download from 8pm BST tonight. And from July 8th it will be available on Windows Update, so it will automatically be pushed out to existing systems, and also to WSUS if people update that way”.
The news will be welcomed by firms that have been testing Hyper-V. However, there are still a few missing links that will prevent most firms from deploying Hyper-V in production environments at this time. For example, Microsoft has yet to release the final version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (VMM2008), which would allow server administrators to manage several Hyper-V systems using a single graphical interface. Currently IT staff must use a beta version of VMM 2008 to manage a Hyper-V server farm. The final version of VMM 2008 is expected to be released within 120 days.
Also missing from this first version of Hyper-V is the ability to migrate a running virtual machine (VM) from one host server system to another. Currently, Hyper-V supports what Microsoft calls Quick Migration, which enables a VM to be moved to another host only after it has been suspended.
In addition, the Hyper-V environment currently lacks an automated failover mechanism that would move and restart a VM on a second host server should the first one go offline. Laing said, “We have failover within a physical machine and between VMs. For example, we can cluster two VMs on a single physical machine, or can failover VMs between physical machines. But this relies on Microsoft Cluster Service and so it requires the Enterprise Edition of Windows Server 2008.”
Server virtualisation specialist VMware’s VirtualCenter has for several years enabled running VMs to be migrated from one host to another without any downtime using a feature called VMotion. Likewise, VMware VirtualCenter 2.x’s High Availability feature can automatically start a VM on a second host should the original host go down. Although the price of Hyper-V is as low as $28 for a four socket server, operational benefits such as VMotion and HA could persuade some firms to continue to use VMware based server virtualisation for some time to come, at least for business critical applications.
Most firms have yet to upgrade their server systems Windows Server 2008 and will probably still need a year or so to make the move. Hyper-V could be one of the features of the software that persuade people to upgrade to Windows Server 2008.