OK Hyper-V, it's time to put up or shut up

Believe the Hype(r-V)?

I run a modest-sized VMWare shop, and we just went through the exercise of moving to VSphere 5.1, so why am I writing about Microsoft's Hyper-V Server 2012?

Mostly because I can.  More and more people I meet these days are coming back to look at Hyper-V.  It hasn't been "quite there" up till now, but by all reports in it's 2012 incarnation, there is much to recommend it.

Firstly, the licensing:

Hyper-V Server 2012 is a free download from Microsoft.  OK, so is VMWare or Xen, but Microsoft have effectively uncoupled Hyper-V and Windows.  But you'd better like PowerShell, because that's all you get out of the box to manage it.  And like ESXi, about all you can do is to complete the basic setup.

Hardware offload of IPSec:
For us, this is pretty important.  We use IPSec heavily, and it's a pig within a VM.  Hyper-V lets me offload this task from the guest to the physical hardware in the system (I'm speculating how that's even possible), and this should at least give us a usable performance boost.  More news as it comes to hand.

Port Mirroring in the virtual switch:
This is worth the price of admission alone.  Now I can capture traffic that never hits a physical port.  Great for application development.

Getting it going

It doesn't get much easier than this.  Download, burn an ISO and boot.  But then what to do?  Well, you can set the hostname, and IP address.  But oddly, from the menu, you can't manually assign an IPV6 address to the machine.  Or did I miss something?

Great, so how do you manage it?  In the old days, you'd bring up Hyper-V Manager.  But as this is a cut-down server core installation (and remember, Server Core is cut waaaay down to start with), there's no straightforward way to do it from the console.  Search for KB958830 to get the management tools to execute on a different machine.  Just like the other guys.

But you also need to enable remote management on the Hyper-V server with the script HVRemote.wsf Why that's not included I am not too sure

You'll also find this article useful if you're installing the tools on Windows 8.  Seems Windows 7 doesn't work so well.

I gave up and used an MSDN release of Server 2012.  Everything just worked after that.  So while the hypervisor itself might be free, a platform to manage it is not.

Storage

I had an IBM DS4700 and some fibre cards lying around in the lab (no, really I did...) so I guessed that might be pretty useful if I set up a 1TB LUN for Hyper-V to use.  Once again, technet comes to you aid, because you need to add the MultiPath I/O modules  and from Server Core, it's a little more challenging, at least when it comes to IBM Storage.  This is one area where VMWare has it all over the competition.  Multipath I/O is somehow native in the system and needs little if any intervention.  On Windows or standard Linux/FreeBSD it's a mess.  FYI, Solaris gets much closer to plug and play, but we're not discussing that just now.

Next problem I had was when I presented up the LUN, it was read-only.  Fortunately this is a known situation, and the fix is well documented by Microsoft in KB971436.  But I'll summarise it here for you.

SAN Policy brings all new volumes into the system as "Offline" and "Read-Only".  The solution is

  1. Start up DISKPART and do a LIST DISK.
  2. Select the disk you want to change (it will show "Offline")
  3. SELECT DISK <#>
  4. ONLINE
  5. DETAIL DISK.  Look for Read-only: Yes
  6. ATTRIBUTE DISK CLEAR READONLY
There, you should be good to go.





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