We’ve witnessed a steady growth in the range of Hyper-V features, with Windows Server R2 being a significant milestone. Thankfully, the trend continues, as we come to know more and more about the latest features in Hyper-V for Windows Server 2016. Here’s a roundup on the most basic features that server administrators can leverage to manage several aspects of their server management duties in a better manner than ever before.
Built-in nested virtualization facility
Here’s a feature that makes the administrator’s job easier. Windows Server 2016 comes with built-in capability of nesting Hyper-V roles inside a virtual machine. Earlier, admins had to indulge in virtualization software tweaks to be able to achieve this. Provided you are running Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 as guest OS, you can use this feature. With this, users can easily add Hyper-V roles inside virtual machines operating on Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V host.
Here are the prerequisites for using nested virtualization:
- Intel VT-x processor, as virtualization works only with Intel processors (at the moment)
- Windows 10 Build 10565 or Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 (at least) on both the virtualized host and physical Hyper-V host. Both hosts having the same build version generally results in optimized performance
- 4GB RAM (at least) for the virtualized Hyper-V host
New and updated Hyper-V Manager
Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V brings several value-added changes and upgrades to the Hyper-V Manager. Here’s a look:
- WS-MAN protocol for remote host connections
In Windows Server 2016, Hyper-V Manager uses WS-MAN protocol to communicate with Hyper-V hosts. This brings Kerberos, CredSSP, and NTLM authentications into the picture.
Note that CredSSP authentication allows you to execute live migrations while connecting to remote Hyper-V hosts without having to enable constrained delegation in Active Directory. Remote management of Hyper-V hosts becomes simpler than ever because of WS-MAN protocol. Since this protocol establishes connection with the remote host over port 80, the connection is open by default.
- Support for alternate access credentials
Windows Server 2016 makes login and access easier by allowing you to use different login credentials of the Hyper-V Manager while connecting to a separate Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 remote host. Saving credentials is also allowed, which makes subsequent login easier.
- Backward compatibility
Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Manager (also on Windows 10) allows you to manage machines operating Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8, and 8.1.
Production checkpoints with VSS
Backup and snapshot has been a part of Windows Server for a long time. However, all previous versions have lacked the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). This service allows backup usage in production systems, and hence, adds a lot of value to the whole backup and system snapshot mechanism.
With Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, you get this option. Running snapshots in production means that admins can save a lot of time and hassle in tricky scenarios of outages. Now they can have more time for pressing needs such as playing video games or streaming “24” or “The Walking Dead.”
Earlier, when administrators needed to execute PowerShell commands from Hyper-V hosts to local virtual machines, they required firewall changes and working network connections. With Windows Server 2016, things are better, as administrators can use PowerShell Direct to execute PowerShell commands against local virtual machines.
A prerequisite for you to be able to leverage this option is that the virtual machines should be running Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 as guest on Hyper-V hosts for Server 2016.
Hot add and remove memory and Virtual Network Interface
If you’re taking care of line of business apps, downtime is a scary proposition that you must always guard against. However, with the capability of hot adding or removing virtual network cards and memory gives you more control, and that’s precisely what Windows Server 2016 offers.
You can hot add memory to both Generation 1 and 2 virtual machines, and can hot add network cards only to Generation 2 virtual machines. If you need to adjust memory for a running virtual machine, there is no need to enable dynamic memory.
Linux Secure Boot
Windows server administrators will remember how earlier Hyper-V versions did not come with Secure Boot option for Linux virtual machines. This is taken care of in Windows Server 2016, as it provides you the option to configure a whole range of Linux distributions that can use the Secure Boot feature. Effectively, this enables organizations to host Linux virtualized workloads securely on Hyper-V.
Protection of host resources
It can be a mess for server administrators to manage system resources when one or more virtual machines don’t perform with the appropriate resources, and siphon off more resources than budgeted. With Windows Server 2016, admins can breathe easier, as there is no need for interventions because the host resource protection feature with Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V ensures that any VM attempting to use more than allocated resources will be checked and penalized, thus keeping the resource allocation mechanism stable.
Latest networking features
Windows Server 2016 brings in some brand-new networking features for server administrators to leverage:
- Switch embedded teaming (SET) and remote direct memory access (RDMA)
Even if you are using SET with network adaptors bound on Hyper-V virtual switch, you can use RDMA for them. Much like NIC teaming, SET allows the use of a virtual switch in Windows Server 2016.
- Virtual machine multi-queues (VMMQ)
You can allocate more than one hardware queue for each VM, and achieve significant improvement in terms of VMQ throughput. Traffic is evenly distributed across the queues, as the default queue works like a set of numerous queues for a single VM.
- Software defined networks Quality of Service
Windows Server 2016 manages default traffic class via virtual switch in the default class bandwidth.
We’ve tried to explain the latest and more useful new features in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. Note that you’d need to upgrade the VM configuration servers manually to be able to use these features on VMs created with Windows Server R2. No, this has nothing to do with R2D2!
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