Final Hyper-V virtualization kit now available
You will need to have already installed Hyper-V Beta, RC0, or RC1, as this release is an update to that version. See this Knowledgebase article for full details.
Microsoft promised six months from the Windows Server 2008 release date last January, and as it turned out, that's just about right. The hardware-supported OS virtualization system is now ready for full deployment in production systems.
Microsoft's decision in April 2007 to delay the full-scale implementation of Hyper-V, its hardware virtualization support system for Windows Server 2008, until six months following the operating system's release, ended up being a wise move. It gave the company both time and resources to implement a wide-scale test of Hyper-V under the final WS2K8 release, using its own microsoft.com domain as the test subject.
As technology architect Rob Emanuel described in a blog post late yesterday, his team implemented one big, final test of Hyper-V RC1 beginning last June 5, delegating a full 16 virtual machine clusters to handle one-fourth of the traffic for microsoft.com. It was a tricky maneuver, since System Center Virtual Machine Manager was only optimized for the RC0 release.
"In terms of performance for this site, overall the results are in-line with previously observed measures while virtualizing MSDN and TechNet. As with those sites we completed comparison testing of the VMs against both the current and new physical servers. The outcome of the current physical servers vs. new VM comparison helped us determine how many VMs running www.microsoft.com we would need to match the current physical server capacity as well as handle projected growth. Given the VM performance on the new servers we'll consolidate down from 80 physical servers to 64 VMs. Those VMs will initially be deployed onto a total of 40 new physical servers."
In other words, given how server responsiveness stayed within the 95-100% availability window after the Hyper-V deployment, making the system virtually indistinguishable from the outside from a fully physical server cluster. Based on that performance, the team determined it could consolidate its Web server clusters to 50% of the footprint they consume today, made up of 80% of the actual, identifiable servers, handling traffic at the same level, for what Alexa classifies as the #20 most visited Web site in the world.
There's some details about this release you'll want to take note of: There are separate English-language releases and multiple-language releases, for both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Server 2008. This will not work with Windows Server 2003. For Windows Vista, new release editions of the remote management toolset were also released today. That's for Vista only, not Windows XP.
Also -- and this is particularly unusual -- you must own a version of Windows Server 2008 that came with the Hyper-V beta. Some versions have it, some don't. If you had RC0 or RC1, then you had to have installed it over that original beta. This update will not give you Hyper-V if your server does not already have a beta or a release candidate of Hyper-V.
There's one more issue to take into account: If you use Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, then it was only updated to work with Hyper-V RC1 two weeks ago. The SCVMM update for the release edition does not yet appear to be available, and the RC1 update for SCVMM took some time to release -- as noted above, that fact put a monkey wrench in the Hyper-V testing team's deployment scheme.