I wrote earlier about some top features in the upcoming Windows Server 8 that will benefit SMBs. I want to highlight some of the other features that give the next version of Windows Server its cloud-oomph in today's blog.
In line with Microsoft's vision of a cloud-capable Windows Server, version 3 of Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization engine is a significant step up in terms of its capabilities. For one, the inclusion of PowerShell support makes it possible to script virtual machines as part of administrative tasks. In addition, Microsoft has beefed up Hyper-V 3 to handle much larger workloads: Up to 160 logical processors with up to 2TB of memory are supported, while hosted VMs can access up to 32 virtual processors and 512GB of memory. NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) also means that VMs scale very well with additional virtual processors and memory. Finally, the lifting of VM restrictions will allow as many VMs as supported by hardware to run.
Enhanced Live Migration
Unlike the pseudo-live migration Hyper-V found in Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 8 can now perform multiple concurrent live migrations with zero downtime. Underlying virtual machine (VM) files are also seamlessly transferred between server hosts, without the need for expensive shared storage infrastructure such as a SAN. The enhanced live migration is of significance as it translates into the ability for even SMBs to build a private cloud without incurring additional hardware (SAN) or software (ESX Server) costs. For instance, administrators can move VMs across physical machines during office hours to facilitate software patching or the upgrade of server hardware without incurring any downtime.
Microsoft has vastly expanded the number of PowerShell cmdlets in Windows Server 8 to provide comprehensive coverage of the various capabilities in Windows Server - including Hyper-V 3. In effect, the new GUI tools can be likened to a thin shell over the PowerShell scripting engine, whose purpose is to create the underlying PowerShell scripts that are executed to perform the actual task. Indeed, the new Active Directory Administrative Center will show PowerShell commands that have been executed, which will be useful for troubleshooting or learning. A PowerShell script can be executed locally, or remotely to manage a Windows Server 8 cloud.
Are you a mid-sized business concerned about being constrained by the limits of a private cloud deployment as the company grows larger? To address the high-availability requirements of large deployments, Windows Failover Clustering has been bumped up with Windows Server 8 clusters supporting up to 63 nodes and 4,000 VMs per cluster, leapfrogging the clusters of up to 32 hosts supported by VMware's vSphere.
So when will Windows Server 8 be available? Well, Microsoft has released no details to the availability of Windows Server 8 at the moment, though hints have been dropped that it could arrive as early as fall 2012. Does your SMB intend to leverage Windows Server 8 to build a private cloud when it is available?