If you’re new to Hyper-V, it can be quite a challenge to become familiar with the platform, why it’s used, and how it works. This is the start of a series of articles to help you get set with some foundational knowledge around Hyper-V. Let’s start with exploring some of the basics to give you some background info on what  Hyper-V is and what you should know to get started.

What is Hyper-V?

Hyper-V is virtualization software that, well, virtualizes software. It can not only virtualize operating systems but also entire hardware components, such as hard drives and network switches. Unlike Fusion and Virtualbox, it is not limited to the user’s device. You can use it for server virtualization, too.

It is available in three versions:

  • Hyper-V for Windows Servers
  • Hyper-V Servers
  • Hyper-V on Windows 10

Hyper-V for Windows Servers is an add-on to the Windows Server OS. Hyper-V Servers, on the other hand, is a standalone solution that can be used to manage virtual and dedicated server instances.

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What is Microsoft Hyper-V?

When Microsoft Hyper-V debuted in 2008, virtualization was just beginning to become mainstream. Not many people knew what it was, and even fewer understood what they could do with it. It all seemed conceptually complicated, risky, and challenging to implement and maintain.

A lot has changed in only a little time. Now, virtualization is everywhere. Data centers are built around it. Developers rely on it. Cloud providers depend on it.

Microsoft’s product has been advancing along with the growing interest. Microsoft Hyper-V has been widely adopted and is rapidly gaining on VMware ESXi, arguably the market leader in enterprise virtualization.

If you’ve been waiting for this technology to become more accessible and mature before jumping in, now is the time.

Why is Microsoft Hyper-V Important?

Microsoft Hyper-V is important because it allows users to transcend beyond the limitations of physical hardware. Managing physical hardware is incredibly complex for larger organizations, which have to manage often disparate and out-of-date hardware. Managing these devices is not only time-consuming for administrators but also very costly.

Purchasing new hardware adds up very quickly, particularly when you take into account the amount of extra office space needed to fit these devices in. Enterprises have started to attempt to reduce costs and manage devices more efficiently. At the same time, modern devices have the storage, CPU, and RAM to be able to sustain a variety of virtual OS from one location making this even more effective.

How does it work?

A hypervisor can be defined as the software creating an abstraction layer between the virtual OS and the physical host machine. This helps create and run multiple Virtual Machines (VMs) on a single physical machine.

Similarly, Hyper-V is also known as the virtualization technology using Windows hypervisor to perform its primary function. However, it requires a physical processor with specific features, including VM monitor mode extensions, a 64-bit processor with second-level address translation (SLAT), and up to 4GB of RAM.

The purpose of a hypervisor is to manage interactions between the physical Hyper-V server and the VMs. The hypervisor provides an isolated environment to the VMs by controlling the access of the host hardware resources. This helps eliminate system crashes and makes VMs more flexible, efficient, and convenient.

Alternatively, in some configurations, VMs or the OS can directly access the graphics, networking, and storage hardware of the physical host.

When setting up Hyper-V, it’s essential to understand its different components. They’re collectively known as virtualization platforms and integrated as a set of tools when you install the Hyper-V role in your physical machine. These parts work together to create and run VMs effectively. The virtualization platform includes:

  • Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management Service
  • Windows hypervisor
  • The virtual machine bus (VMbus)
  • Virtualization WMI provider
  • Virtual infrastructure driver (VID)
  • Virtualization service provider (VSP)

Hyper-V also includes management and connectivity tools designed to be installed on a system with or without a Hyper-V role, such as:

  • Windows PowerShell Direct
  • Hyper-V module for Windows PowerShell
  • Virtual Machine Connection
  • Hyper-V Manager

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Advantages of using Microsoft Hyper-V

  • Capability to create a virtual switch: The role of a virtual switch is to allow VMs to have better communication with each other. Hyper-V creates such switches to intelligently inspect and forward data packets before routing communication or moving them to their destination.
  • Effective use of hardware resources: It helps consolidate servers and reduce workloads by isolating virtual OSes and uses less power, human resources, and infrastructure resources such as systems, storage, CPU, and memory.
  • Establishes the private cloud environment: It’s highly scalable and provides flexibility to use a single physical Hyper-V server as multiple virtual servers. It also offers on-demand IT services by expanding the use of shared resources.
  • Business agility and data security: By establishing and expanding virtual desktop infrastructure with Hyper-V, you can centralize business-critical information, applications, and OSes for better data management and data integrity. It also helps to track, simplify, and streamline various business operations.
  • Efficient development and testing: Hyper-V allows you to install multiple VMs with different OSes on a single Hyper-V server, making it easier and more convenient to develop and test applications.

Hyper-V in Cloud Computing

Interestingly the Hyper-V role of Microsoft initiative is to provide virtualization and virtualization management software to customers and to make it easier for businesses to virtualize and migrate existing server hardware assets to public or private clouds.

The main role of Hyper-V in Cloud Computing:

  • Creates or expands a private cloud environment.
  • Provides more flexible on-demand computing services by moving or expanding the use of shared resources and adjusting their use as needs change.
  • Uses your device more efficiently.
  • Consolidates servers and workloads onto fewer, more powerful physical computers to use less power and physical space.
  • Improves business continuity.
  • Minimizes the impact of planned and unplanned downtime for workloads.
  • Deploys Hyper-V and the RD virtualization host on the same server. That allows users to use individual virtual desktops or groups of virtual desktops.

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Conclusion

With Hyper-V, Microsoft has created a powerful solution that can easily compete with VM VirtualBox and Fusion. The application is great because, as a Windows user, you don’t have to download or buy it separately, you just have to activate it. That said, it only runs on Windows devices, which is why Mac and Linux users go blank.