Preview – Windows Server 8

With the next release of Windows Server operating system, Microsoft has conquered one of the thorniest problems in virtualization: moving an operational virtual machine (VM) across a wide area network (WAN).

Microsoft unveiled this new feature at the Microsoft BUILD conference, being held this week in Anaheim, California. It will be available in Microsoft’s Hyper-V version 3 hypervisor, included in Microsoft’s next server operating system, Windows Server 8.

With live migration, a working VM is moved from one computer to another without any disruption of the services offered by applications within the VM. Most server virtualization software providers, including Microsoft, have long offered live migration within a local network. A far harder problem has been to offer the ability to move a live VM across different subnets, or separate WAN sub-networks. Network latencies and network addressing complexities have made this task a challenging one.

Essentially, each virtual machine gets two IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. One address is the home address for the VM itself, which it uses to communicate with the rest of the network or, if accessed publicly, the Internet. The second IP address will be available for the local data center. The trick is to keep these mappings between the two address spaces.

Microsoft is not alone in offering this capability. VMware, in its VXLAN offering, also offers the ability. This solution, however, requires Cisco networking gear using the Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) technology.

Microsoft also released a number of other new features to make Hyper-V and Windows Server more competitive with VMware as well. The company debuted the ability to do live migration of the VM’s virtual hard disk. Scalability was also an important new feature – the new software will able to support up to 32 virtual processors for each VM, and each VM can now appropriate 512 GB of memory. A new virtual file system, VHDX, can be used to create virtual storage disks up to 16 TB in size.

 

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System Solutions and Integration

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