Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My life with Hyper-V so far

It has now been about 6 months since I converted basically all of my CIAOPS infrastructure to a single physical box running Microsoft Hyper-V so I thought I’d give you a progress report.

 

In summary, everything has gone much better than I ever would have anticipated. Previously I had converted most of machines to Microsoft Virtual PC’s so I was part of the way there. Going to Hyper-V has greatly increased performance, reliability and flexibility. Converting from Microsoft Virtual PC to Hyper-V machines was relatively straight forward (once you remove the Microsoft Virtual PC additions). After a few configuration changes for network cards and loading of the Hyper-V client software everything was up and running.

 

Probably the thing I like the most about Hyper-V is when it comes to update time. I simply shut the virtual machines down and take a snapshot backup. I found that sometimes a Hyper-V machine freezes if you take a backup when it is running, so I now always shut them down. I boot the machines back up, install the patches, reboot again and if everything is working ok I delete the oldest snapshot backup. That way I always have a backup copy I can roll back to if there are issues.

 

Because my Hyper-V host machine is running a standard version of Windows Server 2008 I also need to update that from time to time but again I can either shut the client Hyper-V machines down or I can simply freeze them while I install updates on the host Windows 2008 server. All in all a much quicker and easier process than when I had to install updates on all my physical machines.

 

In a perfect world I’d run one Hyper-V machine for production servers and one for test servers, but alas that is currently not the case. So on the one Hyper-V machine I am also running Windows Server 2008 Premium (i.e. 2 servers) again without issues. I am extremely please that I can get all these machines (6-8 in all) running on one piece of hardware, which also saves a huge amount on power bills.

 

If you haven’t investigated virtual PC technology like Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V then I’d recommend you give it a serious look. It has greatly cut down my admin time as well as saving me on my power bills just to mention two things. There are some downsides like a lack of USB support but you can normally work around these and I fully expect these things to be supported in future releases.

 

So in summary, Hyper-V has proved a real bonus for my business and helped me do more with less.