Hyper-V Feature Overview

There are many compelling reasons to consider deploying a production BizTalk Server solution in a Hyper-V virtualized environment. While there is some performance overhead associated with the virtualization layer that enables running a guest operating system on a virtual machine, one of the primary design goals of Hyper-V was to minimize this overhead and therefore maximize performance of guest operating systems. Guest operating systems running in a Hyper-V virtual machine provide performance approaching the performance of an operating system running on physical hardware if the necessary virtual server client (VSC) drivers and services are installed on the guest operating system. Hyper-V virtual server client (VSC) code, also known as Hyper-V enlightened I/O, enables direct access to the Hyper-V “Virtual Machine Bus” and is available with the installation of Hyper-V integration services. Presently, both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista support Hyper-V enlightened I/O with Hyper-V integration services. Hyper-V Integration services that provide VSC drivers are also available for other client operating systems, including Windows Server 2003.

For more information about Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V see “Virtualization and Consolidation” at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=121187.

For more in depth information about the benefits of leveraging virtualization technology provided with Hyper-V see the whitepaper "Advanced Virtualization Benefits of Windows Server 2008 Editions for the Enterprise" available for download at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=123530.

The advantages of running enterprise-level solutions in a Hyper-V virtualized environment include the following:

  1. Consolidation of hardware resources - Multiple physical servers can be easily consolidated into comparatively fewer servers by implementing virtualization with Hyper-V. Consolidation accommodates full use of deployed hardware resources.

  2. Ease of administration:

    • Consolidation and centralization of resources simplifies administration.

    • Implementation of scale-up and scale out is accommodated with much greater ease.

  3. Significant cost savings:

    • Hardware costs are significantly reduced because multiple virtual machines can run on a single physical machine, therefore, a separate physical machine is not required for every computer.

    • Hyper-V licensing costs are included with the license cost of Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V can also be purchased for use as a stand-alone product that can be installed on Windows Server 2008 Server Core.

  4. Fault tolerance support through Hyper-V clustering – Because Hyper-V is a cluster aware application, Windows Server 2008 provides native host clustering support for virtual machines created in a Hyper-V virtualized environment.

  5. Ease of deployment and management:

    • Consolidation of existing servers into fewer physical servers simplifies deployment.

    • A comprehensive Hyper-V management solution is available with System Center Virtual Machine Manager. For more information about System Center Virtual Machine Manager, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=111303.

  6. Key Hyper-V performance characteristics:

    • Improved hardware sharing architecture - Hyper-V provides improved access and utilization of core resources, such as disk, networking, and video when running guest operating systems with a hypervisor-aware kernel and which are equipped with requisite virtual server client (VSC) code (known as Hyper-V enlightened I/O). Enlightenments are enhancements made to the operating system to help reduce the cost of certain operating system functions like memory management. Presently, both Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista support Hyper-V enlightened I/O and a hypervisor aware kernel via installation of Hyper-V integration services. Integration components, which include VSC drivers, are also available for other client operating systems.

      Disk performance is critical for disk I/O intensive enterprise applications such as Microsoft BizTalk Server and in addition to Hyper-V enlightened I/O; Hyper-V provides “Pass-through” disk support which provides disk performance on par with physical disk performance. Note that “Pass-through” disk support provides improved performance at a small cost to convenience. “Pass-through” disks are essentially physical disks/LUNs that are attached to a virtual machine and do not support some of the functionality of virtual disks, such as Virtual Machine Snapshots.

    • Processor hardware-assisted virtualization support – Hyper-V takes full advantage of processor hardware assisted virtualization support that is available with recent processor technology.

    • Multi-core (SMP) guest operating system support – Hyper-V provides the ability to support up to four processors in a virtual machine environment, which allows applications to take full advantage of multi-threading functionality in a virtual machine. Virtual machines running Windows Server 2003 support up to two processors, therefore, BizTalk Server 2006 can support only two-cores.

    • Both 32-bit and 64-bit guest operating system support – Hyper-V provides broad support for simultaneously running different types of operating systems, including 32-bit and 64-bit systems across different server platforms, such as Windows, Linux®, and others.

  7. Proven track record - Key Microsoft Web sites MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx) and TechNet (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx) are hosted in Hyper-V environments.

  8. Comprehensive product support – Because Microsoft enterprise applications (such as Exchange Server and SQL Server) are fully tested running in Hyper-V, Microsoft provides code fix support for these applications when deployed and run in a Hyper-V environment.

  9. Scalability – Additional processing power, network bandwidth, and storage capacity can be accomplished quickly and easily by apportioning additional available resources from the host computer to the guest virtual machine(s). This may require that the host computer is upgraded or that the guest virtual machines are moved to a more capable host computer.

For more information about Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, see “Virtualization and Consolidation” at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=121187.