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What’s New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V

I recently attended TechEd 2012 on the Gold Coast, and was pretty spoilt for choice as to what technologies I wanted to learn more about. I have an infrastructure background, and recently completed the MCITP Virtualisation Administrator certification for Windows Server 2008 R2, so Hyper-V was still fresh in my mind and one of those technologies I really enjoy using.

I didn’t expect much from the Hyper-V sessions at TechEd. I thought, hey, Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 really can’t have that much extra, surely… Was I wrong or what!?!?

My first session on Hyper-V, I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of new features and improvements introduced in 2012. As someone who’s always played with VMWare and recently shifted allegiance to the Microsoft side, it comes as no surprise that I continue to be impressed by Microsoft’s hard work in the virtualisation space. Hyper-V continues to innovate and add to it’s enterprise ready feature set, and it truly offers an alternative to other virtualisation platforms.

What’s New in Hyper-V 2012

  • Scale has been improved – extreme limits on hardware – 4TB RAM, 320 CPUs, 64 vCPUs per VM, 1TB ram per VM, unlimited live migration
  • Physical NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) and Guest NUMA
  • Idea is to allocate VMs directly to RAM DIMMS to optimize performance
  • High performance storage improvements
  • Live storage migration
  • Virtual fibre channel
  • VHDX virtual disk format
  • File based storage on SMB3.0
  • Live merge of snapshots
  • Live new parent
  • 4K disk support
  • Offloaded data transfer – ODX
  • Unmap support


  • Support for up to 64TB size
  • Virtual disks are faster than pass through disks!
  • Internal logging
  • Large sector support
  • Enhanced performance
  • Custom meta data can be stored in the VHDX
  • 10% increase in IOPS

ODX (Offloaded Data Transfer)

  • File transfers inside a VM will be offloaded to the SAN itself, not transferred inside the VM by the Guest OS!!
  • Offloads the read and write, using a token system
  • Offloaded functions:
  • Fixed VHD creation
  • Dynamic VHD expansion
  • VHD merge
  • Live storage migration
  • Demo showed VHD creation with/without ODX – instant versus 10 minutes for ~50GB VHD.

Unmap – Trim

  • Regain unused space
  • Reuse of unused blocks – i.e. reuse space where files are deleted
  • Efficiencies at virtual and physical layers
  • Works with VHDX and pass through disks only
  • PowerShell: Optimize-volume retrim
  • Hyper-V reclaims storage when VM is shutdown also!

Clustering and High Availability

  • BitLocker encryption for CSVs
  • Fibre channel SAN support for HA
  • Built-in NIC teaming
  • Highly available file server storage
  • New cluster limits – 64 nodes, 8000 VMs, per cluster
  • Cluster aware updating – i.e. Windows updates
  • CSV version 2
  • VM failover prioritisation
  • Anti-affinity VM rules
  • Cluster wide task scheduling
  • Inbox Live migration queuing
  • SMB support
  • Hyper-V application monitoring
  • Guest clustering via fibre channel
  • Support for four HBAs per VM
  • NPIV utilized
  • VM mobility
  • Live migration with HA
  • Hardware independent

Networking Overview

  • Optimized for multi tenant hosted clouds
  • Complete isolation
  • Multi-tenant shared IP ranges
  • Can use PVLANs – 4095 VLAN limitation
  • Hyper-V network virtualization
  • Multiple virtual networks on a physical network
  • Reliability + predictability + scalability + extensibility

Extensible virtual switch

  • Capture extension – first and last in the stack to see all traffic in/out of the vSwitch – eg. Inmon SFlowTrend
  • Windows filter platform extension – firewall / antivirus etc – insert / read
  • Filtering extensions – capture modify inject
  • Forwarding extension – only one at a time – Cisco nexus 1000v virtual switch
  • All PowerShell scriptable
  • Open flow support
  • Network introspection
  • ACLs
  • NIC teaming
  • Per vNIC bandwidth reservation and limits
  • Network metering
  • DVMQ
  • SR-IOV

Network Offload

  • SR-IOV can’t be used with extensible switch
  • DVMQ vs SR-IOV
  • Improves VM performance
  • Spread network load over processors
  • Not good for 10gbps or higher

Advanced networking features

  • DHCP guard
  • Router guard
  • Monitor port
  • Port ACL and QoS
  • Managed via PowerShell only – there is no GUI for this functionality
  • Block/allow traffic in/out of a VM
  • Throttle bandwidth per VM
  • Dedicated bandwidth

Disaster Recovery

  • Hyper-V Replica
  • RPO/RTO in minutes
  • Automatically supports all mobility functions

Linux/UNIX Compatibility

  • Hyper-V drivers now supported in the Linux kernel
  • Can use HA and live migration, as well as replication
  • RedHat, CentOS, SuSe, FreeBSD

Hyper-V Server 2012

  • Still free
  • Includes all hyper v features!
  • Great for VDI
  • Completely unlimited
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