Evaluating Hyper-V 2012 Virtualization

Licensing

When planning the virtualization of your server(s), the number of virtual machines that will be deployed will ultimately determine the edition of Windows Server 2012 that you will use to host your VMs.  Windows 2012 Standard Edition allows you to deploy two virtual machines per physical processor per license on the host server, while the Datacenter Edition allows you to deploy an unlimited number of virtual machines.

The approximate cost of Windows 2012 Standard is $880 per license while Datacenter is $4800 for a 2 processor license.  Which edition is right for your situation is dependent upon the VM density per Hyper-V host you can achieve given the same number of physical processors.   To be clear, licensing is based on the number of processors, regardless of the number of cores a processor possesses.  A four core processor is treated as one processor for licensing purpose.

Keep in mind that Windows CALs (client access licenses) are still required for each VM, using the same per client or per device licensing requirement as physical Windows Server 2012 servers.

Microsoft has released a FREE Hyper-V Windows Server 2012 server.   This is a server-core version of Server 2012 and only hosts the Hyper-V role.  The upside of this edition is that the licensing cost for virtualizing your environment have been essentially eliminated and the dedicated Server Core Hyper-V role will provide better performance and greater security due to the dramatically reduced potential attack surface posed by the GUI components and services required to support the additional roles and features of the full editions of Windows Server 2012.   The downside is that you will likely need to purchase the System Center Manager suite to facilitate efficient management of multiple VMs and the increased complexity of the initial configuration of the Hyper-V server core operating system.

Hyper-V versus VMware

From a financial perspective, companies that have already invested heavily in VMware for their virtualization infrastructure will likely realize little or no advantage in moving to Hyper-V.   The cost savings for new deployments, however, is considerable.  A cost comparison conducted by Miles Consulting Corporation reports the cost for deploying 5 VM hosts at $49,443 using VMware while a 5 VM host Hyper-V deployment, including the System Center Management suite, is $9,262.

A comparison of the features of Hyper-V and VMware’s vSphere5.1 and vSphere Hypervisor reveal that in most cases Hyper-V has more features than either of VMware’s vSphere products and where there are differences Hyper-V outperforms VMware, particularly in the areas of physical memory, virtual hard disk capacity and host or guest clustering.

Migrating Physical Machines to Hyper-V Guest Virtual Machines (P2V)

There are several tools that can be used to perform live P2V migrations. Disk2VHD, for example, creates a snapshot of the physical volumes, using the Volume Shadow Copy service, and converts the snapshot to a VHD file that can then be attached to a virtual machine.   In order for the snapshot to be taken, there must be sufficient free space on the physical partition to contain the snapshot data.  Generally, disk free space only becomes an issue with System Reserved volumes commonly found on Windows Vista, 7 & 8.

System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager is the optimal solution for P2V.  VMMs usefulness extends well beyond P2V virtual machine deployment; it also supports ongoing management and monitoring of VMs on multiple hosts, LTI and ZTI deployment of operating systems in both physical and virtual machines.

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