What is new in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 Tech Preview 2

At Microsoft Ignite in May 2015 Microsoft released information on new features of  Hyper-V part of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2.

The breakout session in which the information below was presented was BRK3461  and can be seen here. Very much recommended to watch.

This blogpost is a summary of what was told and demo-ed in that session.

The features are part of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 (download here). Microsoft does not state which features will be part of the GA version.

This is a summary in which I ordered the new features ranking the most interesting ones the  highest. Interesting to note is that many of the features will be available in the Client Hyper-V of Windows 10 as well.

Nano Server will be an important deployment model for Hyper-V. The Hyper-V team has been working hard to get Hyper-V features working on Nano Server. As you might know Nano Server is a lightweight server. No GUI. All management is done using remote tools.

  • Virtual machine storage  resiliency . When the netwerk fails for a moment, in WS 2012 the nodes panic. Trying to correct does more harm than good. VM storage resiliency makes sure that the virtual machine does not crash when the storage fabric has an outage. The VM is pauzed and started when network is available again. Even when the storage fabric is unavailable for over 60 seconds. This feature looks like Resilient File Handles in Server 2012. This feature buffers I/O for up to 30/40 seconds when storage link is disconnected. Any longer failure would crash the guest VM.
  • Virtual Machine Cluster resiliency: VMs continue to run even when a node falls out the cluster membership. Virtual machines on an isolated node get a status of ‘unmonitored’. If the node comes back in the cluster within four minutes everything is fine. When a node continiously  becomes  unreliable for example because network issues (faulty network cable or NIC) virtual machines are automatically migrated to other hosts and the unreliable host is put in a quarantine mode. In previous versions VMs would be stopped and restarted on other nodes.
  • Virtual TPM support. Customers are afraid to put their data into the cloud. Virtual TMP allows the usage of Bitlocker so data in virtual machines can be encrypted.
  • SecureBoot for Linux support (initally for Ubuntu and SUSE Linux). SecureBoot allows the hardware to check if the kernel mode code is uncomprimised. Nowadays malware infects the kernel. And admins cannot do much about this except a format and reinstall. Secureboot for Windows support was already added in Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Shielded vitual machines is another security feature. It allows to run virtual machines to run in fabrics that are designated as owners of that virtual machines. A VM needs to have virtual TPM enabled.
  • Rolling cluster upgrade. It is not needed anymore to create a new cluster when the Hyper-V version needs to be upgrade. Just upgrade the nodes one by one. You can also rollback. So go back from  Window Server 2016 to 2012 without downtime.
  • Changed block tracking. Hyper-V will have its own driver which keeps tracks of changed blocks of VHD/VHDX files. This is particulary useful for backup solution. Now each vendor has to develop its own driver. Like Veeam did with its Veeam CBT driver.
  • Production checkpoint = Application consistent checkpoint (snapshots). When a checkpoint is created, the VSS in the guest is used to pause transactions and  write outstanding transactions of applications to disk. This will guarantee an application consistent checkpoint. Saved state is not used anymore. More info here.
    hyper-v-production-checkpoints
  • ReFS Accelerated VHDX Operations – Instant fixed disk creation and instant merging of checkpoints. In 2012 creating of a 5 TB fixed VHDX on NTFS could take up to 5 hours without ODX.
  • Host resource protection: when a virtual machine is being compromised and consumes many resources, Hyper-V will detect and throttle back resources for that evil virtual machine. This feature was initially build in Azure. Microsoft seems many Azure tenants trying to break the system. The software scans for patterns of actions that should never happen when Linux of Windows standard applications are used.
  • PowerShell direct. Administrators can now control a virtual machine over the VMbus using PowerShell. There is no need to have an operational network connection to the virtual machine. This is usefull for automated configuration of the VM when it is provisioned. For example setting up IIS using PowerShell.
  • Adjust runtime memory of a virtual machine (while vm is online, no reboot needed)
  • Hot add/remove of network interface cards of virtual machine
  • Hot/add of disks used by cluster nodes
  • Manual control over the hardware version of virtual machines . Virtual machines are not automatically upgraded when Hyper-V is upgraded.Virtual Machine upgrading is a manual process that is seperate from upgrading the host.
  • Configuration version: The version of the Virtual Machine is now displayed in the GUI. Version 5 is the version used for Server 2012 R2. Server 2016 Preview 2 are version 6.2
  • Storage Quality of Service. IOPS can be limited using policy applied to a group of virtual machines. In Windows Server 2012 R2 IOPS restrictions were set per virtual harddisk. In Windows Server 2016 storage QoS is set on a group of VM’s. For example for a multi tier applications or for a customer who wants only bronze level storage performance.
  • A new type of virtual disk: VHDS for shared VHDX. Shared VHDX allows a virtual disk to be used by multiple virtual machines. Usefull for virtual  machines part of a cluster.
  • When a VHDX is added to a Hyper-V Replica protected VM, that disk will automatically be added to the replication.
  • Host Based Backup of shared VHDX. In WS2012 R2 you need an agent in the VM for backup of Shared VHDX. Now backup of VHDX clusters is as easy as backup of a regular VM.
  • Online resize of Shared VHDX. Shared VHDX is called ‘Shared Drive’ in the GUI.
  • Windows Update will take care of Integration Components update. No need to log into the VM to upgrade/install Integration components. More info here.
  • The VM configuration files are in a binary format enhancing performance. File type will be VMCX and VMRS. So no more .XML
  • Cross version management: Hyper-V manager is able to manage Server 2016, 2012 R, 2012 R Hyper-V

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