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Microsoft's Hyper-V R2 about more than Live Migration

Microsoft Hyper-V R2's Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) and Jumbo Frames support will improve scalability and speed data transfers, one tester says.

Of all its new features, Microsoft Hyper-V R2's Live Migration feature gets the most press, but at least one user is looking forward to features like Cluster Shared Volumes and support for Jumbo Frames.

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In 2008, Electronics retailer Crutchfield Corp. in Charlottesville, Va., started using Hyper-V as part of a server consolidation project that helped it reduce its physical server footprint from 250 physical servers to about 150, including eight Hyper-V hosts running 90 virtual machines. Roger Johnson, the team leader for the company's enterprise systems group, is setting up a Hyper-V R2 cluster to test the new features and is particularly keen on Jumbo Frames and Clustered Shared Volumes (CSV) support.

Improving virtualization scalability
Jumbo Frames support will allow Hyper-V VMs to send packets in groups of 7,500 to 9,000 message transfer units (MTUs) instead of the usual 1,500 MTUs. "That will let us send a bunch of data quicker, which is really important as you grow your infrastructure," said Johnson.

That will let us send a bunch of data quicker.
Roger Johnson,
team leaderCrutchfield Corp.

Meanwhile, CSV enables distributed shared access for Hyper-V and is the cornerstone of the Live Migration feature (formerly Quick Migration). According to Microsoft's Failover and Network Load Balancing Clustering Team Blog, the addition of CSV to Hyper-V means that "any node in a [Hyper-V] cluster can access shared storage and any node can host VMs, regardless of which node 'owns' the storage."

Other than enabling live migration of VMs, the addition of CSV will mean that Hyper-V shops will no longer have to assign a single VM to a single logical unit number (LUN) on their shared storage if they want it to be highly available. Crutchfield's Johnson doesn't follow the one-VM-per-logical unit number (or LUN) best practice. Instead, he groups four related VMs onto a LUN. That way, if a VM fails and takes down a LUN, it takes down only related services.

Moving away from the one-VM-per-LUN model is important for scalability, said Mark Bowker, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. There's nothing inherently wrong with assigning a single VM per LUN, except when the number of VMs is large. "If you start to have hundreds or even thousands of VMs, that starts to get pretty hard to manage," he said.

Johnson is also looking forward to Hyper-V R2's Live Migration, but not inordinately so. Before working for Crutchfield, Johnson worked in an all-VMware environment, complete with VMotion. When it came time to choose between VMware ESX and Hyper-V in his new role, Johnson evaluated how much he had actually used VMotion and found he had only used it once. And once he saw how fast Microsoft Quick Migration was, he decided it wasn't worth the extra cost.

"Live Migration wasn't a huge loss for me given the financial savings and the fact that I can move 20 machines in under five minutes," Johnson said.

ESG's Bowker said that VMware may have the lion's share of the virtualization market, but that slowly but surely people are taking a hard look at Hyper-V.

"For pure consolidation, it's a great play," he said. "It's got the same Windows interface that they're used to, and they've already got the licensing in place if they have Windows Server 2008." But Bowker also noted that most shops are awaiting R2 before they consider production deployments.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director.

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