Archive for category Microsoft Hyper-V

Optimizing Hyper-V Performance

If you’re in touch with your geeky side, there’s a good chance that you’re always looking for ways to squeeze more performance out of your IT investments.  This is especially true for situations that involve virtualization, where some of the primary motivation is reducing costs through server consolidation. 

I have recently written two articles for that cover the  topic of monitoring and optimizing your VMs that are hosted on Microsoft Hyper-V.  Some might be obvious, but others are somewhat cleverly-disguised.  The first article, Optimizing Hyper-V performance: Monitoring tips focuses on ways in which you can make sure your host servers and VMs are running smoothly.  From the introduction:

How can you be sure whether your Hyper-V host servers and virtual machines (VMs) have been optimally configured? Installing and enabling Microsoft Hyper-V and creating VMs is a fairly straightforward process; but the techie tendencies in all of us seems to nag the question "Isn’t there something more I should do to improve performance?" This tip targets system administrators who have deployed Hyper-V and want to ensure that they’ve made the most of host servers and VMs.

The second article, Optimizing Hyper-V performance: Advanced fine-tuning provides details on Integration Services, synthetic vs. emulated drivers, and ways in which you can improve overall performance of storage and network resources.

I hope these articles will serve as a useful checklist for Hyper-V management.  If you have any further suggestions, feel free to leave them as comments here or on

Migrating from MSVS to Hyper-V

With the official release of Microsoft’s Hyper-V, I’ll bet that many systems administrators are weighing their options for moving existing VMs to their platform.  Fortunately, there are several approaches that will work, each with it’s own blend of pros and cons.  My recent article, Migrating from Microsoft Virtual Server to Hyper-V covers the details.  From the article:

Birds have the right idea: Why not move to where the weather’s better? Sure, it takes a lot of time, effort and energy to cross entire continents, but the trip is often worth it. The same can be said of platform migrations, as technical advantages may come with potential difficulties. Now that Microsoft’s Hyper-V is finally available as an official, fully-supported platform on Windows Server 2008, many IT managers might be thinking about migration.

If you’ve been standing on the sidelines waiting for the official release of Hyper-V, you no longer have any excuses for waiting to at least deploy it in a test environment. If you’ve been working with the beta and release candidate versions, you’re probably ready to deploy some production virtual machines (VMs) with Microsoft’s latest virtualization product. If your data center environment has an existing investment in Microsoft Virtual Server (MSVS) 2005, this article will help you decide why and how you might want to migrate.

Assuming to decide to make the move, the general process is fairly painless (even if you choose to do it completely manually).  Such is the price of keeping up with technology, and I think most administrators will find that they’re much happier after the move to Hyper-V.

Microsoft Hyper-V Guide

If you’re having trouble making sense of Microsoft’s Hyper-V and would like to get up and running quickly, TechTarget’s has a handy resource.  The Microsoft Hyper-V Guide provides a handy overview and index to other articles and screencasts (including several written by me).  From the introduction to the Guide:

Hyper-V is the latest virtualization product from Microsoft. The new hypervisor platform works with Windows Server 2008 to create and manage a virtual infrastructure. As with any virtualization platform, Hyper-V makes for a more efficient data center, maximizing resources and reducing costs.

Hyper-V consists of a 64-bit hypervisor that can run 32-bit and 64-bit virtual machines concurrently. Hyper-V virtualization works with single and multi-processor virtual machines and includes tools such as snapshots, which capture the state of a running virtual machine.

Hypervisor-based virtualization with Microsoft’s newest offering promises more efficient virtual machine hosting as well, with new "synthetic" drivers.

For more information on Hyper-V, consult the resources in this introductory guide.

Also, keep a look out for many other articles by me and other writers on the site!  A good way to keep up is to sign up for the site’s newsletter.

Hyper-V RTM: Now Available

It’s a little earlier than expected, but the final, release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Microsoft’s long-awaited Hyper-V is now available.  There are several available download packages, listed below.  Links for the main download package (for the server side) is listed below.  For most of us, this should be a "clean" update (no special considerations) except for one: You will need to commit or discard saved state files for any VMs that are currently defined on existing Hyper-V servers.  On to the details and links (courtesy of Microsoft)….

Hyper-V RTM Packages: Windows Server 2008 x64 Hyper-V Parent Partition

This is the complete Hyper-V RTM package for Windows Server 2008 x64. This package must be installed on the Hyper-V Parent Partition. It includes the Hyper-V Server components for Full and Core installations. In addition, is contains the Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V Management components for Full installations. Note This package is permanent.  Once installed, it cannot be uninstalled.

Hyper-V Management

This is the Windows Vista SP1 x64 Management package. This package provides the management tools for Windows Vista SP1 x64.

This is the Windows Vista SP1 x86 Management package. This package provides the management tools for Windows Vista SP1 x86.

This is the Windows Server 2008 x86 Management package. This package provides the management tools for Windows Server 2008 x86Note This package is permanent.  Once installed, it cannot be uninstalled.


If upgrading from Hyper-V RC0, RC1 Escrow, RC1 or RTM Escrow, you will not need to recreate your virtual machines or network settings.  All virtual machine information will simply persist once the upgrade is complete. However, the following upgrade considerations need to be followed to ensure a successful upgrade to Hyper-V RTM.

· Saved-state files are not supported during the upgrade.  All virtual machine saved-states should be discarded before upgrading to Hyper-V RTM (or prior to resuming virtual machines after upgrading to Hyper-V RTM).

· Online snapshots contain virtual machine save-states and thus online snapshots are not supported when upgrading to Hyper-V RTM. Either apply any online snapshots and shut down the VM or discard the virtual machine save-state associated with the snapshot before or after the update to Hyper-V RTM.

· New Integration Components (ICs) must be installed for your supported guest operating systems. Integration Components are specific to the build of Hyper-V. Hyper-V RTM Integration Components for all supported Windows Operating Systems are provided using the ‘Action’ à ‘Insert Integration Services Setup Disk’ action.

o Hyper-V RTM Integration Components for ALL supported Windows Operating Systems are now part of the IC Setup Disk. This includes all of the new guest support being added at RTM such as Windows XP (x86), XP (x64), Vista (x64), Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Simply install the Hyper-V RTM Integration Components and you’re set. (‘Action’ à ‘Insert Integration Services Setup Disk’).
Note You need to close the found new hardware wizard before setup will begin on all Windows Operating Systems.

Hyper-V Fail-Over Clustering Options

Clustering is a real requirement for many mission-critical applications.  Fortunately, most virtualization platforms (including Microsoft’s Hyper-V) support several options.  The main approaches involve either clustering within Guest OS’s (i.e., within a VM if the guest OS supports it), or by using shared storage at the host level.  But, clever systems administrators can often come up with some more creative options.

Jose Barreto has recently posted a very well-written and comprehensive article called Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V Failover Custering Options.  The article outlines (and illustrates) several different approaches.  From the introduction:

There are many ways to implement Windows Server Failover Clustering with Hyper-V. I could actually find five unique methods to do it. Some of them will actually not give you a fully fault-tolerant solution, but most of them actually make sense in specific scenarios (even if only for demonstrations). In any case, just trying to understand and differentiate them will probably be a good exercise.

And here are the titles for your clustering options:

  • Parent-based Failover Clustering with two physical servers
  • Child-based Failover Clustering with two physical servers
  • Mixed Physical/Virtual Failover Clustering
  • Failover Clustering with two child partitions on one physical server
  • Standalone demo laptop with Virtual iSCSI SAN

Jose has done a great job documenting them, and I think this post will serve as a good reference.

Understanding Hyper-V Snapshots

Microsoft’s Hyper-V includes a new model for creating point-in-time views of your VMs and for quickly and easily rolling back to them.  The new architecture is much improved over the "undo disks" model used by Microsoft Virtual Server and Virtual PC.  My article, Taking Snapshots with Hyper-V explains the details.  From the introduction:

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and remember how your virtual machines (VMs) used to look? You know, like before you installed that pre-production beta patch on a mission-critical application? Or before you accidentally overwrote the passwords in a login table by leaving off the WHERE clause of an SQL UPDATE statement?

As the father of more VMs than I can count, I often feel the same way. Fortunately, Microsoft’s Hyper-V provides a useful method of creating and applying point-in-time views of the status of your VMs: the aptly-titled snapshots feature. This easy-to-use tool can create VM snapshots from the Hyper-V Management Console.

See the full article for an in-depth discussion of the benefits of snapshots and how you can use them to help manage your VMs.

Hyper-V RC1 Now Available

Microsoft recently made available the Release Candidate 1 (RC1) update for x64-based versions of Windows Server 2008.  To get the latest bits (in a Microsoft update installer package), go to Update for Windows Server 2008 x64 Edition (KB950049) at the Microsoft Download Center.  If you’re performing remote administration from a 32-bit edition of Windows Server 2008, you can also download the RC1 update for 32-bit machines (remember that Hyper-V itself runs only on x64 machines that have virtualization CPU extensions). 

To get more details on what is new and what has changed, see the Release Notes for the RC1 Release of Hyper-V document.  The associated Knowledge Base Article 950049 also describes issues for updating, including the incompatibility of snapshots made in previous beta/RC releases of the product.  You also want to upgrade VMs to the latest version of Integration Services (included with the update). 

Hyper-V and Clustering

A few days ago, I did a presentation on Microsoft’s Hyper-V at the DevTeach Conference in Toronto.  One of the areas I didn’t really get to expand upon is clustering for virtualization servers.  In brief, there are two main approaches – host clustering and guest clustering.  In the Microsoft world, Hyper-V relies on the tried-and-true Microsoft Cluster Services.  So the question remains: How do you set this up?  To get step-by-step details (18 pages of it!), see the free downloadable document: Step-by-Step Guide for Testing Hyper-V and Failover Clustering.  The document walks you through the required steps and is also a great way to learn more about Hyper-V administration for high-availability.

Hyper-V vs. The Competition

I was recently asked to write an article that presents the case for Microsoft’s Hyper-V.  The article, Virtualization Face-Off: The Case for Hyper-V, includes some considerations that I believe will help the success of Hyper-V.  From the introduction:

It’s not always easy to defend an underdog, especially when they’re going up against the might of a large corporation that dominates its marketplace. And it’s not often that Microsoft is considered the underdog. Microsoft’s upcoming Hyper-V and associated management tools will take on VMware and the rest of the market and in doing so will very likely change users’ expectations for virtualization products.

Of course, this is bound to be a heated topic.  Feel free to voice your questions and comments here.

Understanding Hyper-V Partitions and Device Drivers

My recent article, Understanding Hyper-V partitions and device drivers, attempts to demystify some of the terminology related to Microsoft’s new virtualization platform.  From the article’s introduction:

As is the case with many other technologies, the virtualization space is filled with a mystifying array of terminology. Familiar definitions, such as guest, host, physical and virtual, interact within constellations of other, more product-specific terms. Microsoft’s Hyper-V has its own language that includes terms such as synthetic and emulated drivers; root, parent, and child partitions; and a smattering of others necessary for understanding and working with Microsoft’s upcoming virtualization platform. In this tip, I’ll explain the terms that are relevant to how device drivers work in Hyper-V, which should help with installation of the product, managing performance and troubleshooting any issues that might arise.

Be sure to check out the full article for all of the details.

Understanding Hyper-V Partitions and Device Drivers

I recently wrote a new article that helps explain the architecture of Hyper-V.   From the introduction:

As is the case with many other technologies, the virtualization space is filled with a mystifying array of terminology. Familiar definitions, such as guest, host, physical and virtual, interact within constellations of other, more product-specific terms. Microsoft’s Hyper-V has its own language that includes terms such as synthetic and emulated drivers; root, parent, and child partitions; and a smattering of others necessary for understanding and working with Microsoft’s upcoming virtualization platform. In this tip, I’ll explain the terms that are relevant to how device drivers work in Hyper-V, which should help with installation of the product, managing performance and troubleshooting any issues that might arise.

You can find the entire article at Understanding Hyper-V partitions and device drivers.

Screencasts: Installing and Managing Microsoft Hyper-V

One of the best ways to learn about any product is by using it and/or watching it in action.  For those of that are curious about Hyper-V, but don’t necessarily have the time or hardware to setup a test environment, a couple of free screencasts might be the next best thing.  Here are links to a couple of videos based on the pre-release versions of Hyper-V (each is around 10 minutes long).

Installing Hyper-V

The following screencast will talk you through the steps required to get up and running with Microsoft’s virtualization services in Hyper-V. The demonstration will use the release version of Windows Server 2008, which includes a beta of Hyper-V. You’ll learn about prerequisites, system requirements and using Server Manager to install and verify the Hyper-V server role.

You can view the screencast on Installing Microsoft Hyper-V: A screencast

Creating and Managing VMs with Hyper-V

Once you have installed Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008, you’ll need to perform several steps to create, configure, and start your virtual machines. This screencast will walk through those steps, including Hyper-V server settings, virtual machine virtual hardware configuration settings and basic virtualization operations.

You can view the screencast on Creating and managing virtual machines with Microsoft Hyper-V: Screencast

RunAs Radio: Virtualization / Hyper-V Discussion

Earlier this morning, I had the privilege of chatting with Richard Campbell and Greg Hughes, hosts of RunAs Radio.  The discussion focused on Microsoft’s Hyper-V, and the importance of virtualization management/automation.  It’s a fairly fast-paced conversation and is around 30 minutes long.  The show will be available shortly (and for free) at

DevTeach Conference Sessions

I’m going to be speaking at the DevTeach Conference in Toronto, Canada.  The conference runs from May 12 – 16, 2008.  I’ll be giving two presentations on virtualization and one on SQL Server.  Here are the topics and descriptions:

Evaluating Virtualization Tools and Technologies

There’s far more than one way to implement virtualization. For example, Microsoft has several different products which are designed to help solve organizations’ largest IT challenges. This presentation will cover information about presentation virtualization (Citrix and Windows Terminal Services), application virtualization (Virtuzzo and Microsoft SoftGrid), and server virtualization (including products from VMware, Microsoft, and other vendors). The goal is to help IT professionals determine the best solution(s) for implementing virtualization in their environments.

Windows Server 2008’s Hyper-V: Inside and Out

One of the most compelling features of Windows Server 2008 is its completely new virtualization feature. This presentation will provide details related to the architecture of Hyper-V and what it means to IT departments. Details related to deploying and managing VMs will be presented, with a focus on virtual hard disk and virtual network management. Attendees will also learn how to automate virtualization using WMI and Windows PowerShell.

SQL Server Data Protection and High Availability

SQL Server includes numerous features for protecting important data and ensuring high-availability. This presentation will provide live demonstrations of implementing backup and recovery plans, log-shipping, database mirroring, Fail-Over clusters and database snapshots. The presentation includes recommendations for choosing the best approach given a set of requirements. Presentation scripts and sample code will also be made available.

You can also find more details on the dozens of other presentation topics on the DevTeach Sessions page.

Creating VMs with Hyper-V

If you’re itching to get your hands (or at least your eyes) on Hyper-V, you can read more about the process of using it’s new management tools from a tip I recently wrote.  The article is available for free (registration might be required).  From the introduction to Creating Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines:

Can you think of a better past time than to start working (or playing) with some upcoming beta software? OK, I can too, but it still beats most aspects of getting back to the daily grind. If you have already installed Hyper-V on a compatible machine, you can get started with creating and configuring new virtual machines (VMs). I’ll present the steps required to configure the server and to create and import VMs.

Also, check out my upcoming screencasts on the same topics.