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What you need to know about Generation 2 VMs

Generation 2 VMs offer several advantages, but don't dive into the new format without first considering the important limitations.

Microsoft made many significant changes to its virtualization platform when it released Windows Server 2012 R2. Among the most important updates for virtualization administrators to take note of was the introduction of Generation 2 virtual machines.

However, Gen 2 VMs have some significant limitations that may not make them right for you environment. While new feature was met with considerable fanfare, many experts now recommend a cautious approach. Here are five quick links to help you cut through the hype and decide if you should start using Generation 2 VMs.

What are the advantages?

Unlike traditional, first generation virtual machines, Generation 2 VMs do not attempt to emulate physical hardware. Because these VMs are hypervisor aware, they can run more efficiently. Find out the other advantages Gen 2 VMs can offer and why you might consider them for your next workload.

An in-depth breakdown

The new virtual machine format certainly has its advantages, but administrators who want to use Generation 2 VMs must first understand how they work and make sure their systems meet the requirements. Here's an in-depth breakdown of what the new format means for you.

Data storage implications for Gen 2 VMs

Many of the changes -- including some new capabilities -- associated with Generation 2 VMs are related to storage. For example, VHDX files for Generation 2 VMs can be dynamically resized on an as-needed basis while the VM is running. Read about the other storage-related repercussions of Microsoft's new virtual machine format.

Is it time to start phasing out Gen 1 VMs?

While nobody is recommending a rip-and-replace approach to integrating Generation 2 VMs, the potential advantages mean you may want to consider phasing out older format VMs as your environment grows or your needs change. In this article, Microsoft MVP Brien Posey explains why he recommends slowly transitioning to the new format.

When not to use Generation 2 VMs

When Microsoft introduced Generation 2 VMs, it also kept support for Generation 1 VMs -- and for good reason. There are several important requirements and restrictions that you should be aware of. In the end, it really comes down to your environment and whether the new format fits your needs.

This was last published in April 2015

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