Microsoft India - Windows Server Focus Solution Profile Whitepaper


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Over the past few years, Microsoft has been delivering against an end-to-end virtualization
strategy to bring greater operational efficiencies
and reduce costs in deploying and managing
corporate-wide IT infrastructure. Microsoft’s strategy spans application, presentation, desktop, network, storage, and server virtualization. Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) are
foundation components of Microsoft’s virtualization solutions. This Focus profile describes Microsoft Hyper-V and VMM. It discusses Microsoft’s server
virtualization history, the origins of the Microsoft virtual server technologies and solutions, and the architecture of those solutions. It describes technical features and differentiators as well as solution strengths and limitations, and concludes with a Focus analysis of Microsoft Hyper-V and VMM.

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Microsoft India - Windows Server Focus Solution Profile Whitepaper

  1. 1. FC 3.28.2008 Focus Solution Profile: Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager Abstract part of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 technology. Over the past few years, Microsoft has been delivering against an end-to-end virtualization Microsoft’s VMM, a part of the System Center strategy to bring greater operational efficiencies family of products, brings added-value and reduce costs in deploying and managing centralized planning and management of the corporate-wide IT infrastructure. Microsoft’s entire virtual machine environment. VMM strategy spans application, presentation, provides rapid provisioning of new virtual desktop, network, storage, and server servers and aids consolidation of underutilized virtualization. Hyper-V and System Center physical servers with a consolidation Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) are candidate’s report, wizard-based tools to foundation components of Microsoft’s convert servers from physical to virtual (P2V), virtualization solutions. and conversion of VMware virtual machines to Microsoft VHD format virtual machines. This Focus profile describes Microsoft Hyper-V and VMM. It discusses Microsoft’s server VMM integrates with the other Microsoft virtualization history, the origins of the System Center family products, which allows IT Microsoft virtual server technologies and administrators to leverage their current skills solutions, and the architecture of those and knowledge for managing both the physical solutions. It describes technical features and and virtual infrastructure. differentiators as well as solution strengths and VMM is available as part of the Microsoft limitations, and concludes with a Focus analysis System Center Server Management Suite of Microsoft Hyper-V and VMM. Enterprise. Hyper-V is packaged as part of Windows 2008 Standard, Enterprise, and Vendor and Solution Overview DataCenter Editions, or is available as a stand- In 2003, Microsoft acquired Connectix for its alone option. virtual machine technology. Connectix developed Virtual PC, which is now available for Architecture free. Connectix, at the time of the acquisition, had an unreleased version of what is now Hyper-V Virtual Sever. In 2005, Microsoft entered the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V server virtualization market with the Virtual provides the underlying virtualization Server solution. capabilities within a server using a bare-metal This year, Microsoft will release its first hypervisor architecture, as shown in Figure 1. hypervisor solution, Hyper-V (currently in beta). A natural follow-on solution from Microsoft Virtual Server, Hyper-V is a leaner, higher- performing server virtualization platform that is used as the foundation both for server virtualization and for delivering a virtual desktop architecture (VDA). Hyper-V is a key 2008 Focus Consulting Page 1
  2. 2. FC 3.28.2008 Focus Solution Profile: Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager The parent partition spans both kernel space (privileged Ring 0) and user space (Ring 3). The parent partition user space contains the Windows management interface (WMI), manages and stores the state of the virtual machines, and contains virtualized I/O drivers. The kernel space contains connectors to the child partition virtual machines, through the VMbus used for VM control and the guest operating system’s access to I/O. At the hardware level, new Intel VT and AMD-V chipsets offer virtualization assist capabilities. This assist, among other things, provides a Figure 1: Hyper-V architecture second privileged execution area, Ring -1, for All areas in Figure 1 with gold/yellow shading the hypervisor. The addition of Ring -1 solves are pieces of Windows Server 2008 specific to the problem that the x86 operating system Hyper-V. With the new architecture of Windows expects to run in Ring 0. If the hypervisor also Server 2008, it is possible to install the Windows runs in Ring 0, it will not have the authority to Server Core with a specific personality, loading manage the resources being utilized in Ring 0. only code related to that personality/function. Getting around the Ring 0 issue before the This avoids installing extra code not directly advantage of hardware assists required much applicable to that personality, making the more code. Hyper-V utilizes virtual assist and Server Core smaller and higher-performing. therefore has a very small footprint. (This does Installing Server Core configured with the mean that Hyper-V can only run on Intel VT or virtualization personality will load the Hyper-V AMD-V chip sets). For older x86 processors, components, while minimizing the overall code Microsoft Virtual Server can be used (and also loaded, increasing both performance and be managed by VMM). security (by minimizing the attach surface). VMM The Hyper-V architecture is based on a parent partition and child partitions. The parent VMM is a product in Microsoft’s System Center partition has all the services needed to launch family of management solutions. It allows IT to and manage virtual machines within the child manage the virtual infrastructure the same way partitions. The reason for choosing this it would the physical infrastructure, leveraging architecture is to reduce the functionality in the all current skills and knowledge of the Microsoft Windows Hypervisor, at the lowest level, to environment. scheduling and memory management, VMM’s integration into System Center minimizing the code and the attack surface of Configuration Manager and System Center the parent partition. This has many advantages, Operations Manager allow all server and including increased security, increased desktop assets, both physical and virtual, to be performance, and the ability to use standard managed the same way throughout the IT Windows device drivers. infrastructure. Microsoft Hyper-V integrates 2008 Focus Consulting Page 2
  3. 3. FC 3.28.2008 Focus Solution Profile: Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager into VMM to deliver and manage server virtualization for one or more physical servers, as shown at a high level in Figure 2. This out-of- band management architecture ensures scalability and flexibility of the virtual environment. Figure 3: VMM architecture Technical Features Technical features of Hyper-V and the Virtual Machine Manager are summarized below. Figure 2: VMM with Hyper-V Hyper-V Hyper-V’s features include, but are not limited VMM currently provides management to, the following: capabilities for Virtual Server 2005 R2. The next release of VMM, due out in the second half of  64-bit Hypervisor – The 64-bit Hypervisor 2008 (shown with the oval in Figure 2), will has simultaneous support for 32-bit and 64- provide management support for Virtual Server, bit operating systems and applications. Hyper-V, and VMware ESX, with support for managing Citrix XenServer VMs in a following  Broad guest OS support – Guest OS support release. includes Windows 2003, 2008, XP, and Vista, with support for RHEL and SLES in a The next release of VMM has the architecture future release. shown in Figure 3. It incorporates user interfaces at the top level and System Center  Virtual Hard Disk image format – Hyper-V integration at the next level, which then uses the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) image connect into the different server virtualization format, which is used by Microsoft and Xen- solutions via vendor APIs. based virtualization solutions. VHD encapsulates everything pertaining to a VM The VMM architecture tightly integrates both within a single file that is stored on NAS or System Center VMM and Operations Manager SAN storage (FC or iSCSI) residing on the to simplify and automate management tasks host’s native file system. Using VHD makes across all virtual machine solutions. moving VMs almost as simple as copying a file from one host to another. 2008 Focus Consulting Page 3
  4. 4. FC 3.28.2008 Focus Solution Profile: Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager  Small footprint – Windows Hypervisor is - Administrator console with views of all very small (only 650 KB) and very fast. virtual servers in the environment that tie into System Center consoles  Standard hardware drivers – With this architecture, standard hardware and drivers - Fast wizard-based provisioning of new are used for easy implementation and virtual machines with support for simple plug-in of devices. templates VMM - Self-service provisioning that allows authorized users to rapidly provision new VMM is used for consolidation planning, virtual machines implementation, and ongoing management of the entire virtual server infrastructure. Its - Ability to manage a virtual infrastructure, features include: which may include Hyper-V, Virtual Server, and VMware ESX (and, later, Citrix  Server consolidation planning – VMM XenServer) provides IT with consolidation reports that look at the CPU, memory, disk, and network Differentiators utilization of the physical servers to determine the best-fit servers for Microsoft’s end-to-end integrated management consolidation. allows administrators to manage physical servers and virtual servers using the same tools.  Server transition – VMM supplies P2V tools This integration extends to include for moving physical server infrastructure management of the Windows operating into virtual infrastructure and V2V tools for systems as well as management of all translating virtual machines from other applications, both virtual and physical. virtualization environments (e.g., VMware VMDK) into Hyper-V virtual machines Another area of differentiation is that VMM will (VHD). manage virtual machines that are running on Hyper-V and Virtual Server, as well as VMware  Management enhancements – VMM and, eventually, Citrix XenServer. This will allow provides the following features to make customers to choose which virtualization management easier: platform(s) they wish to use as the foundation of their virtual infrastructure while gaining the - Integration into System Center broad integration and management tools Configuration Manager (formerly SMS) available through System Center. and System Center Operations Manager (formerly MOM) to provide consistent management across the entire Strengths/Limitations infrastructure, both physical and virtual Microsoft’s tight integration of Hyper-V within Windows Server 2008 , along with its disruptive - Intelligent placement of the virtual pricing (less than $30 for Hyper-V) will make workloads on the best possible server Hyper-V nearly ubiquitous in the Windows - Windows PowerShell scripting for server world, giving Microsoft a clear advantage customizing administrative tasks over its competition. Microsoft’s core 2008 Focus Consulting Page 4
  5. 5. FC 3.28.2008 Focus Solution Profile: Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager competencies of OS, desktop, and application systems (server, workstation, and PC); storage, management, plus the integration potential network, and I/O virtualization; and storage and that it brings across its entire solution set, form storage networking (NAS, SAN, Fibre Channel, its greatest strength. iSCSI). Although Microsoft has had a server virtualization solution since 2005 with Virtual Focus Research Series: Server, it is a latecomer to the hypervisor Desktop Delivery Alternatives market, with its solution, Hyper-V, currently in This profile is part of the Focus Research Series beta testing. Some highly valued functionality on Desktop Delivery Alternatives, offering offered by its competitors, such as live insights into drivers, use cases, decision criteria, migration of virtual machines, will not be and considerations for desktop alternatives, delivered with the first release of Hyper-V or including PC/workstation blades, virtual clients, the Hyper-V release of VMM. Microsoft’s ability server-based computing/terminal services, to deliver this and additional functionality application virtualization, and streaming. For quickly will be key to its overall success in this information, go to market. Focus Analysis Given Microsoft’s dominance in the server, desktop, and application markets, the industry has been waiting for Microsoft’s integrated hypervisor solution. Although Microsoft comes late to the hypervisor game, the tight integration of Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008, System Center management, and other Microsoft solutions, as well as its partner solutions, positions Hyper-V to take off as a preferred hypervisor solution. VMM is also primed to become a preferred virtualization management solution across a range of virtual environments. About Focus Focus delivers research, analysis, and consulting, focused on systems, software, and storage. Focus areas include server, desktop, and application virtualization/streaming; systems, storage, and enterprise management (physical and virtual); high availability, disaster All trademarks are the properties of their respective owners. recovery, and business continuity; blade 2008 Focus Consulting Page 5