This past Wednesday Microsoft announced the release of the long anticipated Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta 1. Late last year when Microsoft released their Hypervisor product "Hyper-V" it came with much anticipated excitement. However, for those of us who were use to the high availability solutions from VMWare there was some work that still needed to be done.
Microsoft provided the ability to create highly available virtual machines by using Windows Failover Clustering and Quick Migration, but it lacked the live migration functionality that VMWare offers. Microsofts solution provides reducdancy between virtual host, but during failover guest virtual machine would experience a period of time without connectivity until the failover was complete. This isn't practicial for the needs of some high demand enterprises and their applications, but those days will soon be over.
Microsoft has introduced a lot improvements to their first release of Hyper-V. One of the most important features is the release of CSV (Clustered Shared Volumes) to be used with Failover Clustering. This shared volume concept allows multiple cluster host to access the same LUN and provide the cluster with the ability to give control of the VM over to different clustered host without interrupting access to the guest machines. This provides a great cost effective solution for large enterprises who demand live migration and looking to replace VMWare. Another great feature of the CSV architecture is improved node connectivity fault tolerance. Fault tolerance has been improved with the implementation of Dynamic I/O Redirection, allowing I/O to be redirected within the Failover Cluster based on connection availability.
Other enhancements include a new Cluster Validation Tool, improved management of virtual machines with the Hyper-V Management Console and new Powershell cmdlets. There are also new performance enhancements including SLAT (Second Layer Address Translation), which takes advantage of new processor features to reduce processing load. Added enhancements in networking performance by providing support for TCP offload, providing the VM the ability to offload to the virtual hosts physical NIC and support of Jumbo Frames allowing up to six times larger data packets.
In all Microsoft has done a great job with it second release of its Hyper-V product. For those interest you can download the beta version at the address below.