What’s New in Windows 8 for Hyper-V Based Cloud Computing (Part 3) – Hyper-V Cloud Scenarios

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This article is the 3rd of an 11 part series that provides a comprehensive look at the new features in Windows Server 8 and Client that support virtualization and cloud computing. In this article, you learn about Microsoft cloud scenarios and how they are enabled or enhanced using Windows 8.

Cloud Attributes and Benefits

Microsoft offers both public cloud and private cloud solutions. These solutions are built on a common foundation with four key attributes. The first attribute is pooled resources which allow you to optimize resource utilization and reduce costs. The second attribute is self-service which allows business units or departments to provision systems or entire solutions as predefined units, and includes a user interface to manage them once provisioned. The third attribute is elasticity which allows to scale up or down, scale in or out, all based on capacity needs. The fourth and last attribute is usage-based cost or chargeback that allows customers to pay only for the resources that they consume.

These attributes describe an infrastructure that can be offered as a service with a cost model, enabling consumer of services to receive application performance, SLAs, and lifecycle management without requiring deployment of a complete infrastructure. This approach also allows the business to respond quickly to needs by proactively scaling up to support upcoming end of month or seasonal needs, then scaling back to reduced levels and only pay for the additional consumption during the peak period.

Cloud Models

While different types of clouds share common foundational attributes, they can support different types of service models. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model that many private clouds use as their foundation. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a service model designed to provide a development platform and common API for line of business applications that are deployed in a cloud environment. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a service model for applications that are specifically deployed in a public cloud environment and offered as a fee-based solution to a consumer or enterprise.

Public Clouds

Public clouds can be made up of one or more service models with the following points:

  • The solution does not reside in a customer facility

  • The customer does not manage the infrastructure

  • The applications offered as services are typically maintained through a common portal

Microsoft has deployed public clouds for services such as Bing, Windows Live Hotmail and Messenger, Office365, Azure, and XBOX Live. All of these services are layered on top of an IaaS implementation. Microsoft Azure is actually a PaaS implemetation that is layered on top of an IaaS solution. Hotmail, Messenger, and Office 365 are examples of SaaS implementations that are also layered on top of an IaaS solution.

Private Clouds

The most common definition of the private cloud comes from the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST). Private cloud functionality includes provisioning, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources upon which the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software. The software can include a variety of operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure, but has control over the operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of selected network components that are provided as resources.

Microsoft has adopted the NIST definition of a private cloud to provide a solution based on four key components. The first component revolves around the application. A private cloud must provide predictable and scalable application services, and allow the customer to obtain deep application information and health status. The second component dictates that the private cloud support a cross-platform environment to be successful. Therefore, the Microsoft private cloud solution embraces third party solutions for hypervisors, OS support, management solutions, and application frameworks. The third component is a management solution that supports a heterogeneous environment. In Microsoft’s case, this is the System Center management suite. The fourth and last component is the ability to implement a private cloud solution at the customer’s own pace by adopting some, but not necessarily all, private cloud features, and ensuring a clear path as the customer evolves their cloud strategy.

Hybrid Clouds

Hybrid clouds are a combination of public cloud and private cloud solutions to resolve complex business needs. For example, a company might want to leverage Office365 for Exchange and SharePoint public cloud solutions, but maintain a private cloud for all file and LOB applications.

Windows Server 8 for the Private Cloud

Windows Server 8 facilitates the deployment of a private cloud through support for some core characteristics, namely multi-tenancy, security and isolation, and scalability.

Multi-tenancy, Security, and Isolation

Private clouds provide best value when they allow maximum use of the infrastructure resources. That means that a private cloud must allow for multiple departments, business units, or customers to share the common resources. Windows Server 8 provides network and partition isolation for customer workloads from the hypervisor layer up through the virtualization stack.

Hyper-V Network Virtualization

On an infrastructure scale, Windows Server 8 Hyper-V provides new network virtualization features that allows isolation of workload data across a shared network infrastructure without the complexity or limitations that are part and parcel of VLAN implementations. Using virtual switch configuration and isolation in conjunction with network virtualization, virtual machines can move securely across a private cloud infrastructure, while maintaining the same network addressing scheme. Hyper-V network virtualization allows the integration of existing private network address ranges into the private cloud infrastructure, and provides a means to accommodate multiple cloud tenant workloads even if they have conflicting private address ranges.

Quality of Service (QOS)

Windows Server 8 supports Quality of Service (QoS) features by providing the ability to guarantee both minimum and maximum bandwidth to a virtual machine or service. This allows virtual machines to have a predictable network performance and prevents any one virtual machine from consuming all available network bandwidth.

Scalability and Performance

Windows Server 8 Hyper-V also provides scalability and performance enhancements for private clouds. Virtual machines scalability is enhanced through the automated assignment of additional resources (i.e., dynamic memory), as well as through new virtual interfaces. In particular, Windows Server 8 Hyper-V introduces a virtual fibre channel network adapter to support virtual SANs. Windows Server 8 Hyper-V also supports offloaded data transfer (ODX) to leverage storage data transfer features through direct access to hardware instead of through slower intermediary virtual interfaces.

Connected Cloud Services

When creating private cloud solutions, one common problem is how to create multiple datacenters that support robust disaster recovery and backup solutions. Windows Server 8 introduces Hyper-V Replica which provides asynchronous replication of virtual machines over IP networks. This enables out of the box business continuity and disaster recovery to remote sites using storage and workload agnostic solutions. Replication is controlled at the virtual machine level and integrated with Hyper-V Manager and Failover Cluster Manager.

In addition to providing business continuity and disaster recovery solutions, Windows Server 8 also introduces true differential backups of virtual machines. By backing up only what has changed, storage costs and backup time is greatly reduced.

Continuous Availability

Private clouds require continuous availability of the shared resource pool. Windows Server 8 enables continuous network availability with support for network adapter teaming out of the box. With Windows Server 8, there is no longer a need to purchase, configure, and troubleshoot a specific vendor solution. Customers can combine internal network adapter ports with ports from add-in network adapters and have a Microsoft supported NIC teaming solution that spans across different vendor hardware components.

Windows Server 8 also provides Live Migration and Live Storage Migration. Live Migration allows virtual machines to be moved on-the-fly across up to 63 node Hyper-V host clusters based on resource requirements or maintenance needs. Similarly, Live Storage Migration allows VM storage to be migrated between storage solutions, enabling backend maintenance, redistribution of load, and storage technology upgrades, without any VM downtime.

Storage Solutions

Windows Server 8 introduces support for storing virtual machines (configuration files, virtual hard disks, snapshots, and paging files) on shared file servers that support the SMB2 protocol. NAS devices are also supported. This allows customers to leverage lower costs devices, reduce provisioning and management costs, and increased flexibility in creating a multi-layer, dynamic storage infrastructure.

Enhanced Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Support (VDI)

Windows Server 8 also enhances VDI scenarios with support for RemoteFX over WAN, storage of user settings separate from OS, and increased support for USB in RDP sessions. RemoteFX over WAN allows the use of the UDP protocol to reduce overhead, automatically adapts to network performance based on available bandwidth, and leverages congestion control to prevent the loss of packets and reduce delay to support demanding graphic applications.

In addition, Windows Server 8 expands on the USB support in RDP sessions by offering RemoteFX USB redirection capabilities. This allows additional devices to be supported in virtual machines, including scanners, all-in-one printers, webcams, and VOIP telephones and headsets.


In this article, you learned about Microsoft cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and cloud models (private, public, hybrid), as well as Microsoft implementations of each service type. While Windows Server 2008 R2 provides a good cloud platform, the Windows Server 8 release provides many enhancements that Microsoft believes will establish it as a premier cloud platform. In Part 4 of this series, we will start to delve into Windows Server 8 core component features, starting with an in-depth look at new storage support.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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