Hyper-V ConceptsIt's time to get familiar with Hyper-V Virtualization, virtual servers, virtual switches, virtual CPUs, virtual deployment infrastructure (VDI) and more.
Our previous articles covered basic concepts of Virtualization along with the installation and monitoring of Windows 2012 Hyper-V. This article takes the next step, which is the installation of a guest host (Windows 8.1) on our Windows 2012 Hyper-V enabled server. The aim of this article is to show how easily a guest operating system can be installed and configured, while explaining the installation and setup process.
To begin the creation of our first virtual machine, open the Hyper-V manager in Windows Server 2012. On the Actions pane located on the right side of the window, click New and select Virtual Machine:
Read the Before you begin page which contains imporant information and then click Next:
Type name of the virtual machine and configure the location to store virtual hard disk of this virtual machine. On server systems with shared storage devices, the virtual hard disk is best stored on the shared storage for performance and redundancy reasons, otherwise select a local hard disk drive. For the purpose of this lab, we will be using the server’s local C Drive:
Our previous article covered the basic concepts of Virtualization and Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. This article takes a closer look at Microsoft’s Hyper-V Virtualization platform and continues with the installation of the Hyper-V role via the Windows Server Manager interface and Windows PowerShell command prompt.
Hyper-V is a server role used to create virtualized environment by deploying different types of virtualization technologies such as server virtualization, network virtualization and desktop virtualization. The Hyper-V Server role can be installed in Server 2012 R2 Standard, Datacenter or Essentials edition. Hyper-V version 3.0 is the latest version of Hyper V server available in Windows Server 2012 R2 versions.
To learn more about the licensing restrictions on each Windows Server 2012 edition, read our article Windows 2012 Server Foundation, Essential, Standard & Datacenter Edition Differences, Licensing & Supported Features.
The Hyper-V server role requires specific system-hardware requirements to be met. The minimum hardware requirements are listed in the table below:
At least one Gigabit Ethernet adapter
Keep in mind that the above table specifies the minimum requirements. If you wanted to install Hyper-V in a production environment along with a number of virtual machines, you will definitely need more than 512MB memory and 32GB disk space.
In Windows Server 2012, you can install Hyper-V server role by using the Server Manager (GUI) or windows PowerShell. In both cases, the installation requires the user to be an Administrator or member of Administrators or Hyper-V administrators group.
At first, open Server Manager. Click Manage and select the Add Roles and Features option:
Virtualization is an abstraction layer that creates separate distinct virtual environments allowing the operation of different operating systems, desktops and applications under the same or combined pool of resources. In the past couple of years, virtualization has gained an incredible rate of adoption as companies consolidate their existing server and network infrastructure, in hope to create a more efficient infrastructure that can keep up with their growing needs while at the same time keep the running and administration costs as low as possible.
When we hear the word ‘Virtualization’, most think about ‘server virtualization’ – which of course is the most widely applied scenario, however today the term virtualization also applies to a number of concepts including:
This article will be focusing on the Server virtualization platform, which is currently the most active segment of the virtualization industry. As noted previously, with server virtualization a physical machine is divided into many virtual servers – each virtual server having its own operating system. The core element of server virtualization is the Hypervisor – a thin layer of software that sits between the hardware layer and the multiple operating systems (virtual servers) that run on the physical machine.
The Hypervisor provides the virtual CPUs, memory and other components and intercepts virtual servers requests to the hardware. Currently, there are two types of Hypervisors:
Type 1 Hypervisor – This is the type of hypervisor used for bare-metal servers. These hypervisors run directly on the physical server’s hardware and the operating systems run on top of it. Examples of Type-1 Hypervisors are Microsoft’s Hyper-V, VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer.
Type 2 Hypervisor – This is the type of hypervisor that runs on top of existing operating systems. Examples of Type-2 Hypervisors are VMware Workstation, SWSoft’s Parallels Desktop and others.
Microsoft introduced its server virtualization platform Hyper-V with the release of Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V is a server role that can be installed from Server Manager or PowerShell in Windows Server 2012.
With the release of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft has made lot of improvements in their Hyper-V virtualization platform. Features like live migration, dynamic memory, network virtualization, remoteFX, Hyper-V Replica, etc. have been added to new Hyper-V 3.0 in Server 2012.
Hyper-V is a type 1 hypervisor that operates right above the hardware layer. The Windows Server 2012 operating system remains above the hypervisor layer, despite the fact the Hyper-V role is installed from within the Windows Server operating system. The physical server where Hypervisor or Hyper-V server role is installed is called the host machine or virtualization server. Similarly, the virtual machines installed on Hyper-V are called guest machines.
Let’s take a look at the traditional way of server configuration. The figure below shows the typical traditional server deployment scenario where one server per application model is applied. In this deployment model, each application has its own dedicated physical server.
Traditional Server Deployment
This traditional model of server deployment has many disadvantages such as increased setup costs, management & backup overhead, increased physical space and power requirements, plus many more. Resource utilization of this type of server consolidation is usually below 10%. Practically, this means that we have 5 underutilized servers.
Virtualization comes to dramatically change the above scenario.
Using Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 along with the Hyper-V role installed, our traditional server deployment model is transformed into a single physical server with a generous amount of resources (CPU, Memory, Storage space, etc) ready to undertake the load of all virtual servers.
The figure below shows how the traditional model of server deployment is now virtualized with Microsoft’s Hyper-V server:
There is no doubt that Cloud Computing is hot topic these days. Innovations in cloud computing models have made every industry and company IT departments to re-think their traditional model of computing. Realizing the benefits and challenges of cloud computing, Microsoft have jumped into the game of Cloud computing by releasing a cloud optimized server operating system called Windows Server 2012.
Windows Server 2012 has dozens of new features and services that makes it cloud ready. Windows Server 2012 R2 is the latest version of server operating system from Microsoft and successor of Server 2012.
Lets take a look at some of the new features Windows Server 2012 now supports:
Server Manager is one of the major changes of Windows Server 2012. With a new ‘look and feel’ of the Server Manager user interface, administrators now have the option to group multiple servers on their network and manage them centrally – a useful feature that will save valuable time. With this grouping feature, monitoring events, services, installed roles, performance, on multiple servers from a single window is easy, fast and requires very little effort.
Windows Server 2012 - Server Manager Dashboard (click to enlarge)
Similar to the Server Manager of previous version of windows servers, it can be used to install in Windows Server 2012 to install server roles and features.
PowerShell 3.0 is another important improvement in Windows Server 2012. PowerShell is a command line and scripting tool designed to stretch greater control of window servers. The graphical user interface (GUI) of Windows Server 2012 is built on top of PowerShell 3.0. When you click buttons in GUI interface, PowerShell cmdlets & scripts are actually running in the background ‘translating’ mouse button commands to executable commands and scripts.
PowerShell scripts allow more tasks to be executed faster and within a short period of time, since the absence of the GUI interface means less crashes and problems.
Review by Arani Mukherjee
For a company’s IT department, it is essential to manage and monitor all assets with a high level of effectiveness, efficiency and transparency for users. Centralised management software becomes a crucial tool for the IT department to ensure that all assets are performing at their utmost efficiency, and that they are safeguarded from any anomalies, be it a virus attack, security holes created by unpatched softwares or even the OS.
GFI LanGuard is one such software that promises to provide a consolidated platform from which software, network and security management can be performed, remotely, on all assets under its umbrella. Review of LanGuard Version 2011 was published previously on Firewall.cx by our esteemed colleagues Alan Drury and John Watters. Here are our observations on the latest version of LanGuard 2014. This is something we would call a perspective from a fresh pair of eyes.
The installation phase has been made seamless by GFI. There are no major changes from the previous version. Worth noting is that near the end of the installation you will be asked to point towards an existing instance of SQL Server, or install one. This might prolong the entire process but, overall, a very tidy installation package. Our personal opinion is to ensure the hardware server has a decent amount of memory and CPU speed to provide the sheer number crunching needs of LanGuard.
Once the installation is complete, LanGuard is ready to roll without the need for any OS restarts or a hardware reboot. For the purpose of this review two computers, one running Windows 7 and the other running Linux Ubuntu, were used. The Dashboard is the first main screen the user will encounter:
LanGuard will be able to pick up the machines it needs to monitor from the workgroup it belongs to. Obviously it does show a lot of information at one glance. The section of Common Tasks (lower left corner) is very useful for performing repetitive actions like triggering scans, or even adding computers. Adding computers can be done by looking into the existing domain, by computer name, or even by its IP address. Once LanGuard identifies the computer, and knows more about it from scan results, it allocates the correct workgroup under the Entire Network section.
Below is what the Dashboard looked like for a single device or machine:
The Dashboard has several sub categories, but we’ll talk about them once we finish discussing the Scan option.
The purpose of this option is to perform the management scan of the assets that need to be monitored via LanGuard. Once the asset is selected LanGuard will perform various types of scans, called audit operations. Each audit operation corresponds to an output of information under several sections for that device. Information ranges from hardware type, software installed, ports being used, patch information etc.
The following screenshot displays a scan in progress on such a device: