Windows first foray into the world of virtual private servers was the Windows VPS, now known as the Generation 1 Windows VPS. Generation 1 VPSs were the only virtual private servers available for Windows users until the recent release of the Hyper-V 2012 R2 Server. This new Windows operating system gives users the option to create the Generation 2 Windows VPS.
In previous operating systems, before the Hyper-V 2012 R2 Server was introduced, Generation 1 virtual machines had the basic capabilities of most VPSs, providing server space to users as a fully managed or self managed system. This and other virtualization options manufactured by Microsoft such as Virtual PC, Virtual Server, and others, all operated on older technology, something Microsoft typically tries to stay away from as long as technology continues to progress.
The new Hyper-V server, despite being released not too long after its last server operating system, has a host of impressive new upgrades and features users will find extremely helpful. Updates include:
Shared virtual hard disk: This change allows for clusters of Virtual Machines (VMs) to coexist on the same hard disk and have access to the same virtual hard disk file. This improves the availability of the server’s infrastructure.
Resizing virtual disks: On previous servers, it was impossible to resize virtual hard disks while a VM was running, which prevented maintenance and configurations from being performed on virtual hard disks. With the Hyper-V, virtual hard disks can now be resized and configured even when a VM is running, which can save a significant amount of time.
Storage Quality of Service: With this change, users can manage the storage throughput of any and all of the virtual disks on their VMs. This means a user can set a limit for the I/O loads their virtual disks have to handle. Consequently, the storage throughout of each virtual hard disk is unaffected by any of the other disks in the VM.
Integration services: Hyper-V has been updated so server administrators can now copy files onto active VMs. This means VMs can be updated while running without needing a network connection, something that could not be done on previous servers. This is optional: if a user does not wish for this feature to be active, it will not be. The default setting for the Guest Services option is off, while it must be activated on the Integration Services page in order for this feature to work.
Generation 2 Windows VMs: The new and improved VMs are one of the most exciting new features of the Hyper-V 2012 R2 Server, which is the only server on which they are available.
It is quite amazing what has been added to the R2 version of Hyper-V only one year after Windows Server 2012 was released. In following video Aidan Finn explains several of the new features of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V :
Generation 2 Windows VPSs (VMs)
The Generation 2 Windows VMs available through the Hyper-V server have multiple benefits and upgrades over older models, several of which are listed below.
Virtual SCSI controller: Generation 1 VMs used an IDE controller, which did not allow the VM to boot from a virtual hard disk like SCSI. Generation 2 VMs have a 64 TB maximum size and an online resize capability as explained above.
UEFI firmware: Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is supported by Generation 2 VMs. Generation 1 VMS supported Legacy BIOS-based firmware, which cannot be read on a Generation 2 VM.
Secure Boot: The upgraded VM has a Secure Boot that prevents unauthorized firmware or operating systems from running. This feature is an optional one, and can be disabled by the user if he or she wishes to do so. It works by using a signature checking mechanism that validates allowed components and prevents unauthorized components from running.
Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) boot: In addition to being able to boot from SCSI devices, a Generation 2 VM can boot from a standard network adapter. The formerly required Legacy network adapters are no longer necessary, and are not compatible with a Generation 2 VM. Now, the VM can remotely install the guest operating system using a standard network adapter.
Faster: Because the system uses a Secure Boot and UEFI firmware, boot time is faster than on a Generation 1 VM. Installation times are also faster on the Generation 2 machines.
Can be run together: A significant change is that generation 1 and 2 VMs are expected to be run together. There are some Hyper-V-supported operating systems that cannot be run on Generation 2 VMs. These operating systems, if the user wishes to run them, must be installed on Generation 1 machines.
Clusters of VMs: Because of the way that the Hyper-V 2012 R2 Server is made, clusters of VMs are allowed to access the same virtual disk drive file. This more efficient infrastructure is a great benefit of the Generation 2 VMs
Removal of emulated hardware: Floppy drives, IDE controllers and other unnecessary hardware have been removed in the Generation 2 VMs. This leaves more space for more useful components.
Resizing: This is a feature especially important to the Generation 2 VMs, as allowing virtual disk drives to drastically change in size without affecting the operation of the virtual machine is a huge step forward. This allows the sizes of the virtual disk drives to be changed on an as needed basis, allowing for more or less storage for the VMs whenever necessary.
Benefits for businesses
Faster boot times and more efficient installation of software and operating systems is something any business owner can appreciate. The massive disk drive space available (64 TB) means there is enough space to run multiple operating systems and save an incredible amount of data on the same VM. For all companies, making sure any financial data, customer data, or other data of any sort is safely stored is important. The ability of the Hyper-V server to resize disk drives on an as needed basis to make room for other components of the VM is a luxury businesses and tech professionals will find very helpful.
For more information about Generation 2 Windows on a Hyper-V 2012 R2 Server, contact Accuweb Hosting today.
Rahul is CEO at AccuWebHosting.com. He shares his web hosting insights at AccuWebHosting blog. He mostly writes on the latest web hosting trends, WordPress, storage technologies, Windows and Linux hosting platforms.