I have been studying for my upgrade test for Microsoft Server 2012 and ran across Hyper-V 2012 Server Core. So I down loaded it and set up a little lab that I could test it features and functionality. I used 2 HP 8400 Workstations as the servers and a Dell M90 as the domain controller with another laptop to use for access to the Hyper-V Servers.
The download was about 2 Gigs and installed really quickly. So in about 30 minutes I had two virtual servers. The DC was Windows Server 2012 and you will really need a domain to make some of the features work correctly. With the domain up and the servers all connected I began the task of finishing configuration but if you have ever used a Windows Core server there is no real interface. So to make this process a great deal easier you should download a tool called Corefig. You can download it by clicking here. This adds an easy to use interface that makes using a Core server a great deal easier. Here is a pic of the interface.
This makes it a lot easier if you don’t want to run this on a domain, but you will still have some problems. Anyhow, once you get the machines built and the basic configuration out of the way you can proceed with the building of you virtual machines. Using ISO files makes this a great deal easier but physical media will be fine but you will need to put them in the server CD drive. You will also need a Windows machine to access the Hyper V Manager so you can control the VMs with a GUI interface. I used Windows 8 for this but Window 7 will work but you will have to download the remote administrations tools from Microsoft and install Hyper V Manager.
With all of that complete you can simply connect to the Hyper V servers and start the process of building the VMs. I’m not going to go through building the VMs because it is pretty straight forward and easy to do. The things I really like about Hyper V 3 is the replication and fail over features that are built in. First I will go over replication. It is also pretty easy to do. The machines I am using are not part of a cluster and they don’t have any kind of shared storage. But you can simply click on your VM and select replication. My machines are on a domain so this process my or my not work with two standalone machines. The replication menu will is also easy to use. You just enter the Hyper V server to replicate to and it will begin. After the initial replication of the VM it will update the VM copy on the other machine every few minutes. If you had a large number of VMs replication this may take a little bit but I didn’t see any lag from this process. Once the replication precess is up and working you can click on the replication tab and select failover. This will make sure the replicated VM is up-to-date and power that machine on. So if a server fails or you just need to do some work on a server you can move VMs back and forth with very little effort. This feature is usually not part of a free Hypervisor. Here is a pic of the replication menu on the Hyper V Manager.
Another feature is the ability to move the VMs from one server to another while they are still running without shared storage. This one takes a little more setup time and will not work without a domain. The first thing I did was create a security group and add my Hyper V servers to it. Then I added two delegations to the Hyper V computers in Active directory. On each of the Hyper V servers in Active Directory I selected properties and then delegation. I the delegation menus I selected Trust this computer to trusted delegation service only and selected the Use Kerberos only radio button. Then in the delegated service box I selected add and added the following services for the other server you will be moving VMs to:
- Microsoft Virtual System Migration Service
With these delegations added you should no be able to move live VMs from one server to another. The tab looks like the following.
Now with everything set up you should be able to right click on the VM in Hyper V Manager and select move. It will ask you which server to move it to along with a few other questions on how you want this to be performed. These are questions about moving the VM if you have shared storage or not, what you want to do with the VM files, and what drive on the other server you want to move the VM to. Once you answer these questions you select finish and it will begin moving the machine to the other server. If you wan to see that it is still live just log into the VM and you can see that it remains functional. It will also close the RDP window and open it again for the other server once it is complete. All in all this is a nice feature that the average person can use and makes it a lot easier for the maintenance and update to be installed on servers without any down time.
So this version of Hyper V is really a big step forward in features and reliability. I was not a fan of the previous versions but Hyper V 3 is really something to take a look at. I have also considered moving my test lab over to this platform for the replication feature. Finally to wrap everything up I have been playing around with Altero’s Hyper V Backup. They have a free edition and would make a test lab complete with Hyper V’s failover features and the ability to backup VMs for the just in case scenario. If you wanted to use shared storage Hyper V supports iSCSI and is suppose to work with SMB 3.0. So you could add a inexpensive NAS to the servers to truly make the system have high availability function. So check it out you just might like it, I know I have.