Quite Impressed With Microsoft’s Hyper-V

I realise I’ve not posted for a while, and I’ll try and atone for that going forward, I’ve been a busy server guy at work, but onto the good stuff.

I know Hyper-V, I’m not new to the existence of Hyper-V, but I’ve only ever briefly touched it in lab environments, until recently.

I had cause to do a number of small site deployments in the US on Hyper-V, my first choice being for a proper VMware setup with vCenter and a shared storage platform, but for one reason or another, my hand was forced and I had to go in guns blazing with Hyper-V, no shared storage and no Microsoft System Centre Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) either.
For those that haven’t looked at Server Core installs yet, firstly, why not? Secondly, please do, it’s a great feature of Windows Server for enterprise and business setups and something that Windows Server nerds everywhere should be doing more of.
I’m happy with PowerShell, so deployment wasn’t hard, that’s not to say I’m 100% au-fait with every set of cmdlets on offer and know the whole she-bang inside out, but it’s pretty easy to get going. Once the install was done and networking configured (loving the native NIC teaming since Server 2012), Hyper-V role installed and servers fully patched it was time to start actually configuring the thing. Again, Microsoft have made the whole thing fairly straightforward via the Hyper-V console and since I’m not a PowerShell martyr, I use it where things are easier but use the GUI where it makes sense for some things, I was happy to proceed in the GUI for some of the config.

So, onto what I liked, the live migration with shared nothing is great, although something I know ESXi also has. The replication of a VM between hosts, and the ability for one of those replicas to effectively be powered on in an unplanned failover scenario is great and failed back when things are working as planned again. Ok, I know it’s not a full HA setup in the sense that it requires intervention for it to work, but it’s a step up from what you get with just ESXi without vCenter.
Hot-add of memory is now available in Hyper-V since the Server 2016 version, as well as hot-add of network adapters, which brings it a lot of the way towards VMware’s offering in terms of hot-add features. PowerShell Direct is amazing, the ability to have a console-esq PowerShell session to a guest OS from the host regardless of networking or firewall is great.
Obviously there are some things missing from Hyper-V still, vCPU hot-add being one, but not one that I personally use too often. The HTML5 interface of the later iterations of VMware’s product are also great, no need for an installed application to manage the thing is always good news.

Hyper-V can easily suffice for small scale deployments and is well worth a look these days. In it’s current evolution it’s a big leap from where it was in it’s Server 2008 days. As time goes by, there really is getting less and less between Hyper-V and ESXi, and that can only be good. No one benefits from a monopoly position, with the exception of the monopoly holder, so it’s good to have some healthy competition in the market and I look forward to seeing what Microsoft can do with the platform in the future.

Using Full DVD/CD Writing Capabilities in a Hyper-V VM

See the note at the end of the post before implementing this
Normally when you pass an optical drive through from the hyper-v server to the guest OS in a VM it can act as a read only device, even if it has writing capabilities.  This is a limitation of Hyper-V.

However this can be worked around using iSCSI.  Microsoft now make available their own iSCSI target software, but unless I’m mistaken that cannot share optical drives.  Alcohol 52% Free Edition contains the ability to setup an iSCSI target device which you can then connect to from Windows 7 and will handle optical drives.

Alcohol 52%

Install Alcohol 52% on the host OS, ignoring all the crapware and reboot as required.  Then start the application and look down to the bottom towards the list of drives.  Right click on the drive you wish to share and click sharing;

Then highlight the drive and click the new share button.

Give the share a name and highlight “share read” and “share write” then click ok

Back on the sharing window go to the options tab, enter a username and password and make sure the service is started and the startup type is automatic, this will ensure it still runs after a reboot.

Finally click ok and this completes the section on the host OS.

On the guest OS under Administrative Tools start the iSCSI initiator.  Under the discovery tab click discover portal and enter the IP address of the host OS, leaving the port the same and click ok.

Then head back to the targets tab and click refresh.  The iSCSI device setup should show, highlight it and click connect.  Then on the next window click ok, leaving the details the same.

Finally the iSCSI device should show connected and if you check your connected drives you should see the device listed in My Computer.

Job done.

Note: I salvaged this from a very old version of my blog, I know it applies to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2, but I’ve not tested this on any versions of Server 2012. This will work if you’re in a pinch and need it, but I couldn’t really suggest this for use in a production environment