Windows Server 2016: What’s New in Hyper-V

Windows Server 2016 was officially released and there are several new features related to Hyper-V that make it increasingly a powerful virtualization platform full of new and exciting features. In this article, I will show the new Hyper-V feature in Windows Server 2016 and attention will be paid to the changes from the previous version.

Nested Virtualization

This feature allows you to have a virtual machine using the Hyper-V role and consequences to host on it other virtual machine. This feature is useful for test and development environments, but it is not suitable to be used in production environments. In order to use the nested virtualization must be respected the following requirements:

  • The virtual machine using the Hyper-V role must have at least 4 GB RAM
  • Guest virtual machines must also be Windows Server 2016
  • When the nested virtualization is available only if the physical host that holds the VM with Hyper-V has Intel processors (VT-x and EPT).

For further information about can you see Windows Server 2016: Introduction to Hyper-V Nested Virtualization edited by Silvio Benedict or the Microsoft document Nested Virtualization.

Networking Features

Also in networking introduces important new features that allow you to take full advantage of the hardware and get more performance:

  • Remote direct memory access (RDMA) embedded switches and teaming (SET). Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) is a new technology alternative to NIC Teaming allowing you to have multiple network adapters that are joined to the same Virtual Switch to Hyper-V. Prior to Windows Server 2016 It was necessary to have a separate set of NIC (one for use with the Virtual switches and one to take advantage of RDMA) Since the teaming of the OS was not compatible with RDMA. In Windows Server 2016 There is the possiblity to RDMA on network adapters that are associated with a Virtual switches configured with or without Embedded Switch Teaming mode (SET)
  • Virtual machine multi queues (VMMQ). Improvement on QMV throughput with the ability to allocate multiple hardware queues per virtual machine
  • Quality of service (QoS) for software-defined networks

Hot add and remove for network adapters and memory

For generating virtual machine 2 running both Windows and Linux you can add or remove network adapters while the virtual machine is running, without no catch. In addition to build both virtual machines 1 build confidence 2, but running Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 You can change the amount of RAM assigned to it while it is running, Although dynamic memory is not enabled.

Hyper-V Cluster Rolling Upgrade

Important are the changes in the cluster. Provides the ability to add a node Windows Server 2016 to an existing Hyper-V cluster consisting of Windows Server nodes 2012 R2. This allows us to update the cluster systems without any downtime. As long as all cluster nodes are not upgraded to Windows Server 2016 the cluster remains with the features of Windows Server 2012 R2. After the update process of the various nodes in the cluster, you must upgrade the level of functionality via Powershell cmdlet Update-ClusterFunctionalLevel.

Start Order Priority for Clustered Virtual Machines

Thanks to this feature it is possible to obtain more control over the virtual machine boot priority in clustered environment. This can be useful to start virtual machines that provide services before others that take advantage of these services. All this is easily achieved by configuring the set, assigning virtual machines to different sets and defining dependencies.

Production Checkpoints

The creation of production checkpoint relies on backup technologies inside the virtual machine instead of the save state (Save state of Hyper-V). For Windows OS based machines uses Volume Snapshot Service (VSS), While Linux virtual machines is done a flush of different file system buffers to create a checkpoint that is consistent at the file system level. The Production checkpoint are the default for new virtual machines, but there is always the possibility to create checkpoints based on the State to save the virtual machine, called checkpoint standard time.

Host Resource Protection

This feature helps prevent conditions where the operations carried out by a single virtual machine can degrade the performance of the Hyper-V host or other virtual machine. When this monitoring mechanism detects a VM with excessive activity in this reduces the resources assigned. By default this control mechanism is disabled and you can activate it using the following Powershell command: Set-VMProcessor-EnableHostResourceProtection $true

Shielded Virtual Machines

The Shielded virtual machines, aggregating several features, make it much more difficult all those activities that can be made by malware or Hyper-V administrators themselves to inspect, tampering and misappropriation of data. The data and status of Shielded virtual machines are encrypted and Hyper-V administrators is not permitted to view the output videos and data on virtual disks. These virtual machines can be carried out on specific Hyper-V hosts defined and in health status according to the policies issued by Guardian Server Host. The shielded virtual machines are compatible with the Hyper-V feature Replica. To enable replication that can be authorised for Hyper-V hosts on which you want to replicate the shielded virtual machine. For more details about these new features, please consult the document Guarded Fabric and Shielded VMs.

Virtualization-based Security for Generation 2 Virtual Machines

New security features were introduced to the virtual machine generation 2 (starting with version 8 of the configuration file) What Device Guard and Credential Guard, they are able to increase the security of the operating system from malware attacks.

Encryption Support for the Operating System drive in Generation 1 Virtual Machines

Now there is the possibility to protect the operating system disks using BitLocker to build virtual machine 1. Thanks to new feature Key Storage (requires at least version 8 of the configuration file) creates a small drive dedicated to hosting the keys used by BitLocker instead of using a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that is only available for virtual machines by generation 2.

Linux Secure Boot

Build the virtual machine 2 based on the Linux operating system can boot using the Secure Boot. Are enabled to Secure Boot on Windows host Server 2016 the following Linux distributions:

  • Ubuntu 14.04 +
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 +
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0 +
  • CentOS 7.0 +

Windows PowerShell Direct

This is a new way to run Windows PowerShell commands on a virtual machine directly from the host impartendoli, without requiring an access via network and remote management tools regardless of configuration. Windows PowerShell Direct is an excellent alternative to the tools currently used by Hyper-V administrators as PowerShell, Remote Desktop or Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection (Vmconnect) and offers a great experience in scripting and automation (for example, difficult to achieve with VMConnect).

Compatible with Connected Standby

When the Hyper-V role is enabled on a system that uses as power model Always On/Always Connected (AOAC) is now available as a power state Connected Standby.

Discrete Device Assignment

This exciting feature enables you to provide direct and exclusive access to a virtual machine to some harware PCIe devices. Using a device in this mode is bypassed the entire Hyper-V virtualization stack thus ensuring faster access to hardware. For more information about hardware requirements, please refer to the section "Discrete device assignment" in the document System requirements for Hyper-V on Windows Server 2016.

Windows Containers

Speaking of what's new in Hyper-V is also worth mentioning the Windows Containers that enable on a system of isolated applications. Among the main strengths of containers we find the speed of creation, high scalability and portability. There are two types of runtime containers, each provides a different level of application isolation:

  • Windows Server Containers using namespace and process isolation
  • Hyper-V virtual machine that uses a small Containers for each container

For more details on containers I invite you to consult official documentation of the Windows Container And the specific section on WindowServer.it containing several very interesting articles.

 

Update feature in Windows Server 2016

More Memory and Processors for Generation 2 Hyper-V Virtual Machines and Hosts

Build the virtual machine 2, starting with version 8 of the configuration file, can be configured with more resources in terms of virtual processors and memory RAM. Have also been revised even the maximum resource usage of physical hosts. For all details about Hyper-V scalability in Windows Server 2016 You can read the document Plan for Hyper-V scalability in Windows Server 2016.

Virtual Machine Configuration File Format

Virtual machine configuration file uses a new format that allows you to read and write more efficiently the different configurations. This new format also makes it more resilient to corruption if you experience failure disk subsystem. The extension of the new configuration file that holds the virtual machine configuration is .vmcx While the extension .vmrs is used to hold the runtime state.

Virtual Machine Configuration Version

The configuration file version represents the level of virtual machine compatibility with the version of Hyper-V. The virtual machine configuration file version 5 are compatible Windows Server 2012 R2 and can be activated either on Windows Server 2012 R2 on Windows Server 2016. Virtual machines with configuration file versions introduced in Windows Server 2016 cannot be performed in Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 R2. In order to use all the new features on virtual machines created with Windows Server 2012 R2 and then migrated or imported in Hyper-V on Windows Server 2016 You must update the configuration of virtual machines. The update is automatic. The downgrade of the configuration file is not supported. Full details on how to upgrade the version of the virtual machine configuration can be found in the following: Upgrade virtual machine version in Hyper-V on Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016.

Hyper-V Manager Improvements

Hyper-V manager also introduces important improvements:

  • Alternate credentials support – Provides the ability to use a different set of credentials in Hyper-V Manager when connecting to a remote host Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10. Credentials can also be saved to be easily reused.
  • Manage earlier versions – Using Hyper-V Manager on Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 You can also manage Hyper-V Windows Server based systems 2012, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.
  • Updated management protocol – Hyper-V Manager uses the WS-MAN to communicate with the remote Hyper-V host. This communication protocol enables CredSSP authentication, Kerberos or NTLM and facilitates the host configuration to allow remote management.

Integration Services Delivered Through Windows Update

Very useful is the ability to update the virtual machine integration services based on Windows operating system via Windows Update. This is a matter of particular interest to service providers because thanks to this mechanism on monitoring the application of these updates is left in the hands of the tenant who owns the virtual machine. Tenants can then update independently its own virtual machine Windows with all updates, including the integration services, using a single method..

Shared Virtual Hard Disks

Provides the ability to resize the virtual hard disks including shared, used to create environments guest clustering, without any downtime. The size of the shared virtual hard disks can be extended or reduced while the virtual machine is online. The guest cluster using shared virtual hard disks can now be protected with the Hyper-V Replication for disaster recovery.

Storage Quality of Service (QoS)

In storage you can create QoS policy on Scale-Out File Server and assign them to different virtual disks associated with Hyper-V virtual machines. This gives you the ability to check the performance of the storage by preventing the use of the same for individual virtual machines can impact the entire disk subsystem. You can find full details of this topic in the document Storage Quality of Service.

 

Conclusions

There are many new features in Microsoft Windows Server virtualization platform 2016 that make it even more complete and rich in new features. Microsoft Hyper-V is now available on the market for several years, has reached the highest levels of reliability and offers a great enterprise-class virtualization solution. In choosing the virtualization platform is well not to overlook even the various possibilities that we offer to scale down public cloud or to implement hybrid architectures.

You can test all the new features of Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2016 by downloading the trial version from the TechNet Evaluation Center.

For more insights on the topic I invite you to participate in the sessions devoted to Hyper-V during the SID // Windows Server 2016 Roadshow, the free event dedicated to the new operating system, open to all companies, consultants and partners who want to prepare for the future and who want to know the latest news and best practices to implement new server operating system.

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