The last couple of months have shown that the hypervisor battles for bigger, faster, and smoother are still heated and great for the consumer. Recently Microsoft announced the upcoming release of their virtualization suite, Hyper-V 2012 R2, and the enhancements are great. Letâ€™s explore the updates and new features of Hyper-V and how they can help you, the DBA!
First, for the formal announcement, Microsoft has a â€œWhatâ€™s Newâ€ TechNet page available for you here.
Clustering and Shared Disks
Microsoft Clustering continues to be enhanced with the introduction of shared virtual disks (VHDX). You can used these shared disks, when placed on a host-level file server share, to act as the shared disks in a Microsoft cluster. The VM mobility from host to host via live migration is not hindered in any way. This is great news for those with traditional SQL Server clusters with shared storage! VM administrators can now work on hosts without disrupting cluster activities by having the freedom to migrate VMs around the virtualization cluster. I think this is one of the most important new features of Hyper-V.
Microsoft has updated their Live Migration feature to boost performance in two different ways. The first is to compress the blocks being transmitted, and they say it analyzes CPU usage to determine how to best use the cycles without impacting VM performance. Awesome! The second method called SMB Direct is to use the same performance improvements seen with SMB 3.0 to boost performance of VM Live Migrations, but you need newer network adapters that support RDMA. The claim 10x performance improvements, which is wonderful!
VHDX Live Resizing
You can now perform a live resize of a virtual hard drive without powering down the virtual machine. This is a great feature for DBAs, as proactive monitoring can warn on drives approaching their capacity, and you can now add more space without impacting the uptime.
Virtual Machine Cloning
First, you can now hot-clone a running virtual machine. This feature is great if you have a production migration or task to run, and you want to clone the VM so you can test your update in a pre-production environment with an exact copy of production so you know what to expect.
Each release of the hypervisors always seem to push the maximums list bigger and bigger.
Each host now supports 320 physical CPU cores per host, with 4TB of memory. Each VM can support 64 vCPUs and 1TB of vRAM. Each virtual disk supports up to 64TB of size, and a pass-through disk supports 256TB.
The limitations on virtual machine sizing now becomes a moot point, regardless of your top-tier hypervisor. Hyper-V 2012 R2 will be released on October 18, the same day as Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.
Virtualize everything! There are no technical barriers from 100% virtualization of your datacenter stopping you now.