Posey's Tips & Tricks

My Wish List for the Next Version of Hyper-V

Native third-party support tops the list.

It really hasn't been very long since Microsoft released Windows Server 2012 R2. Even so, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Microsoft is already hard at work on the next version of their flagship operating system. Even though I haven't heard any sort of rumors out of Redmond as to what we might expect from the next Windows Server release, I thought that it might be fun to take a moment and talk about my wish list for the next version of Hyper-V.

As you are no doubt aware, Microsoft put a tremendous amount of work into the latest versions of Windows Server, Hyper-V, and System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Much of this work went into making the various products a little bit less proprietary. For example, Microsoft has openly embraced Linux in the latest versions of Hyper-V and in System Center Virtual Machine Manager. System Center Virtual Machine Manager even includes limited support for managing VMware and Citrix environments.

I say this as a way of underscoring the idea that Microsoft is embracing open standards (at least with regard to supporting competing products), even though such actions were once considered unthinkable. This leads me to my first wish list item.

Since Microsoft seems to be designing their products to work with competing products and platforms, I would like to see the next version of Hyper-V offer even more native support for VMware environments. More specifically, I think that it would be really great to be able to connect a VMDK file directly to a Hyper-V virtual machine without having to first convert the file to VHD or to VHDX format.

I also have another wish list item that also has to do with VMware compatibility. This one might be impossible due to technical reasons. The people in Redmond would know a lot better than I would if there is any chance of ever making this wish a reality.

At any rate, Microsoft currently provides a tool called the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter. This tool can be used to migrate a virtual machine off of a VMware environment, and import it into a Hyper-V environment. Unfortunately the migration process involves a long copy operation and you will likely have to perform a manual migration of new data from the source to the destination VM prior to performing the switchover.

I would love to see Microsoft figure out a way to streamline the conversion process. Perhaps Microsoft can find a way to bring a virtual machine online in a sandboxes environment, synchronize the VM with the production VMware virtual machine and then perform a switchover with little to no down time. I will concede that this is a tall order, but I can dream.

Not all of my wish list items center on VMware. I think that Microsoft has a lot of work to do with regard to establishing better compatibility between Hyper-V and Windows Azure. For example, it is possible to move a Hyper-V virtual machine to Windows Azure by using the App Controller, but the process is anything but seamless. This seems really strange considering that Windows Azure is actually based on Hyper-V.

Personally, I would like to see Windows Azure become a completely seamless part of the virtualization infrastructure. I suspect that this may be something that Microsoft is already working on, but I would like to see the Hyper-V Manager and the Virtual Machine Manager Console extended so that new virtual machines can be created locally, or in Windows Azure using EXACTLY the same techniques. Administrators shouldn't have to use one set of procedures for virtual machines within Azure and another set of procedures for local VMs.

Another wish list item is that I would like to see is that I wish Microsoft would allow Azure to be used as a Hyper-V extended replica target. Microsoft already allows cloud-level replication between Virtual Machine Manager clouds or between a Virtual Machine Manager cloud and Windows Azure storage. Such functionality can be achieved through the Azure Recovery Manager. However, that's not what I'm talking about.

I want to be able to use the native Hyper-V replication feature to replicate a virtual machine to Windows Azure. Even though larger organizations tend not to use the Hyper-V replication feature, it has been extremely beneficial to smaller organizations. Having the ability to place an extended replica on Windows Azure would give even the smallest organizations the ability to fail over to an off-site location should the need arise.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I don't have any inside information about what Microsoft might be working on at this moment. Even so, these are some improvements that could prove to be very beneficial in Hyper-V environments.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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