Hyper-V Technology Overview

Virtualization has entered many areas of modern business due to the multiple benefits that it provides. Currently, Microsoft Hyper-V is one of the most prominent virtualization platforms on the market. Hyper-V was designed for building and managing virtual environments of any scale, which permits you to use hardware more effectively and cost-efficiently. To understand how you can benefit from deploying Hyper-V environment, it is essential to look at the technology behind Hyper-V and what it encompasses.

What Is Hyper-V?

Microsoft Hyper-V is a form of hypervisor-based virtualization technology, which is used for creating, running, and managing virtual machines (VMs). Hyper-V is a Type-1 hypervisor, which means that the hypervisor runs directly on the physical hardware (host machine) and hosts multiple VMs (guest machines) sharing the virtualized hardware resources from the physical server.

Even though one physical server can host multiple VMs and those VMs share the same set of physical resources, they do not affect one another’s performance. This is due to the fact that each VM in a virtual environment runs in isolation from other VMs.

Hyper-V is available in two operational modes:

  1. Hyper-V Server, which is a stand-alone server product, which can be downloaded for free. This is the virtualization solution which contains the Windows hypervisor, a Windows Server driver model, and virtualization components.
  2. A server role in Windows Server, which is an additional component of Windows Server 2008 and later. It can be manually installed through PowerShell, the Windows control panel, or the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool (DISM).

Hyper-V Architecture

As mentioned above, VMs in Hyper-V run in isolation, which is based on the partitioning technology. Partitioning is an act of creating several logically isolated units managed by a hypervisor, whereby each unit acts as an individual system. Partitioning allows you to host multiple operating systems (OSes) on the same physical server, and efficiently distribute the workload across a virtual environment.

A parent, or root, partition has direct access to a hypervisor, which is Hyper-V. Note that the parent partition should always run Windows Server. Moreover, the parent partition contains the virtualization stack which provides management services, and can also create child partitions used for hosting the guest OSes.

Child partitions cannot gain access to the physical processor and its hardware resources, as only a virtual view of resources is available. In case of any software interruptions, the hypervisor identifies the issue and redirects it to a corresponding partition. Any attempt to access the virtual devices is managed by the VMBus, which is a logical inter-partition communication channel used for redirecting any virtual device requests from a child partition to a parent partition, and vice versa. The communication between the partitions is possible because a parent partition runs a Virtualization Service Provider (VSP) and a child partition runs a Virtualization Service Consumer (VSC). VSP in parent partitions is used for handling device access requests from child partitions, whereas VSC in child partitions can redirect device requests to VSPs in the parent partition by the means of VMBus.

Thus, both can connect to the VMBus for handling device requests.

To make communication between partitions even more effective, the Enlightened I/O feature was introduced with Windows servers starting in 2008. Enlightened I/O implies the use of virtualization-aware communication protocols which allow you to access the VMBus directly, without the use of a device emulation layer. Thus, the requests between the partitions are handled faster and more efficiently.

Hyper-V System Requirements

In order to ensure Hyper-V performance, the following system requirements must be considered:

  • 64-bit Processor with Second Level Address Translation (SLAT). SLAT is a hardware-virtualization technology designed for managing the hypervisor overhead.
  • Support of VM Monitor Mode Extensions.
  • Minimum of 4 GB memory. The memory of the physical server is shared with all VMs it hosts. Therefore, ensure that there is enough memory assigned for a physical machine and for each VM running on it.
  • Hardware-assisted virtualization enabled through the Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT) or AMD Virtualization (AMD-V) technology.
  • Hardware-enforced Data Execution Prevention (DEP), which is used for conducting memory checks to identify non-executable memory areas and prevent malicious attacks. The XD bit (execute disable bit) is used with Intel systems, whereas the NX bit (no execute bit) is applied for AMD systems.

Note that you can check for Hyper-V requirements by opening Windows PowerShell or Command Prompt and typing Systeminfo.exe. After that, complete system information about your computer will appear on the screen, including Hyper-V requirements. In the Hyper-V Requirements section, you will see the list of the necessary components such as VM Monitor Mode Extensions, Virtualization Enabled in Firmware, Second Level Address Translation, and Data Execution Prevention Available. If all listed Hyper-V requirements read Yes, your system can run the Hyper-V role. If any point states No, check the listed requirements and make the necessary adjustments.

However, if you apply the Systeminfo.exe command on a computer which already hosts the Hyper-V role, you will see the following:

Hyper-V Requirements: A hypervisor has been detected. Features required for Hyper-V will not be displayed.

Hyper-V Management

Before you can start using Hyper-V to a full extent, you first need to find out how to install the product on your computer, how to create a VM with Hyper-V, and how to enable Hyper-V Integration Components. These aspects will be covered in the following section.

How to install Hyper-V

Hyper-V role is a built-in feature of Windows 2008 (and later); thus, you don’t have to download anything– it just needs to be activated. The process of installing Hyper-V will be demonstrated below on the basis of Windows 10. Installing Hyper-V can be performed in three ways: via the Windows 10 control panel, PowerShell, or the Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management tool (DISM). Below, we will cover each approach in detail.

To install Hyper-V via the Windows 10 control panel, do the following:

1. Open the control panel and click on Uninstall a program in the Programs section.

Microsoft Control Panel

2. In the left pane, click on Turn Windows features on or off.

‘Programs and Features’ Window

3. Select the Hyper-V check box in the Windows Features dialog box and click OK.

‘Windows Features’ Dialog Box

4. The process of installing Hyper-V will start immediately. After that, click the option Restart Now to implement all the required changes or click Don’t Restart* to implement all the changes later.

The next method involves using PowerShell, which is a task automation and configuration management framework developed by Microsoft. To install Hyper-V via Windows PowerShell, the following steps should be taken:

1. Open a PowerShell console as Administrator.

2. Run the following command:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Hyper-V –All

3. The operation will be initiated.

4. For the installation to complete, restart Windows.

As a final option, you can install Hyper-V via Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM), which is a command-line tool used for mounting and managing Windows image files or hard disks. The process of installing Hyper-V via DISM goes as follows:

1. Start the PowerShell or CMD session as Administrator.

2. Run the following command:

DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /All /FeatureName:Microsoft-Hyper-V

3. The process of installing will start automatically.

4. Restart Windows to complete the operation.

All of these methods are equally efficient and you can choose any of them for installing the Hyper-V role on your computer.

How to create a virtual machine with Hyper-V

In this section, we will demonstrate how to create a new VM using Hyper-V Quick Create, which is a new feature introduced with the Windows 10 Creator Update. Earlier, VMs were created using Hyper-V Manager, which included eight configuration steps. You can still use this approach to create a Hyper-V VM if you are looking for a more granular control over the VM installation process. On the other hand, if you need to significantly reduce the time spent creating VMs, Hyper-V Quick Create is the perfect option.

Therefore, to create a new VM in Hyper-V Quick Create, do the following:

1. Open Hyper-V Quick Create.

2. Choose an OS from the list of options or install a guest OS from an ISO image file or a virtual hard disk file by clicking Local installation source.

Creating a Virtual Machine with Hyper-V Quick Create

a) After clicking on Local installation source, you will see the option Change installation source. Select this option to choose the file (.iso, .vhd, or .vhdx) on the basis of which you want to create a new VM.

b) If the VM runs Windows, check the box below for enabling Windows Secure Boot. If the Linux image is used, deselect this option.

Enabling Windows Secure Boot

3. Click on Create Virtual Machine.

As you can see, the process of creating a VM with Hyper-V Quick Create is quite simple and intuitive.

How to enable Hyper-V Integration Components

Hyper-V integration components (more commonly known as Hyper-V integration services) represent a set of tools used for improving VM performance and enhancing communication between the Hyper-V host and a VM. Hyper-V integration services include Hyper-V Heartbeat Service, Hyper-V Guest Shutdown Service, Hyper-V Time Synchronization Service, Hyper-V Guest Service Interface, Hyper-V PowerShell Direct Service, etc. Apart from Hyper-V Guest Service Interface, all other integration services are available by default on Windows guest OSes.

However, note that if you have chosen a specific integration service, it must be enabled in both host and guest OSes to ensure that it functions properly. The easiest way of enabling or disabling an integration service is by using Hyper-V Manager.

In order to turn an integration service on or off in Hyper-V Manager, follow the steps below:

1. Open Hyper-V Manager.

2. Right-click the VM for which you want to enable/disable an integration service and select Settings.

3. The Settings menu will appear. In the left pane, under the Management section, find the Integration Services Option and click on it. In the Integration Services section, you will find the list of all services provided for the Hyper-V host. You can select/deselect the integration services available for the Hyper-V host and for the VMs running on it.

4. Click Apply to save changes.

Enabling Hyper-V Integration Components

After you have enabled a particular service, you must ensure that it is running not only on the guest OS, but also on the Hyper-V host. The same goes for stopping an integration service – the changes must be applied for both host and guest machines. For this purpose, the Windows Control Panel is used, which allows you to start or stop Hyper-V integration services.

1. Open Control Panel, find the Services icon, and click on it.

2. Find the list of Hyper-V services and select the service you need to set up.

3. In the left pane, you will see the configuration options available, as well as a short description of how the service can be used. If you right-click the integration service of your choice, the drop-down menu will appear.

4. Click the desired action and apply the adopted changes.

Stopping Hyper-V Integration Components(1)

As you can see, Hyper-V provides a number of services which can make the process of managing your virtual environment simple and convenient.

How NAKIVO Backup & Replication Can Protect Hyper-V Environment

As soon as you create a virtual environment and start operating in it, you need to ask yourself whether your system is securely protected, and whether you can successfully recover it if needed. For this purpose, you should consider the option of installing third-party data protection software, such as NAKIVO Backup & Replication, which can provide you with efficient data protection options for a fraction of the price.

NAKIVO Backup & Replication represents a reliable and efficient system of protection, compatible with VMware, Hyper-V, and AWS EC2 environments. Data protection options provided by NAKIVO Backup & Replication include: backup, backup copy, backup to cloud, replication, and site recovery.

Hyper-V backup is a point-in-time copy of VM data that is stored locally, offsite, and in private/public clouds. To minimize the possible damage of losing your backups, you can set up backup copy jobs, which can create copies of your backups and move them to a remote site or a public cloud for storage. Also, you can perform VM replication, as a result of which, you can create an exact copy of the source Hyper-V VM and send it to a remote site. In case of disaster, you can fail over critical workloads from an original VM to a VM replica. The time needed for recovering business operations is significantly reduced as a replica VM can be powered on in a few clicks for taking on the production workload.

To ensure that the applications and databases (Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, SQL, etc.) running in Hyper-V virtual infrastructure remain consistent, NAKIVO Backup & Replication ensures that backup and replication jobs are image-based and application-aware. Moreover, the feature of Resilient Change Tracking, which is native to Hyper-V, allows you to perform incremental backups and replications, meaning that only unique data blocks are transferred to the backup repository.

Last but not least is the exclusive feature of Site Recovery (SR), which allows for setting up an automated algorithm reflecting the disaster recovery (DR) process. Depending on your needs and expectations, you can arrange multiple actions and conditions in a specific order to accommodate a particular DR scenario. On the other hand, you can set up a site recovery job to perform non-disruptive recovery testing to check the state of running VMs and confirm the integrity of your Hyper-V environment.

Thus, NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides multiple benefits, including reliability, storage space reduction, flexibility, ease of use, fast performance, and time and cost savings. Read our blog posts to learn more about how NAKIVO Backup & Replication works and how it can improve your virtual infrastructure, or request a live demo by one of our engineers.

Conclusion

Hyper-V is undeniably one of the most prominent players of the virtualization market. Over the years, it has attracted a huge following due to the user-friendly experience that it provides. Hyper-V allows for virtualizing computing environments and efficiently managing the available resources from a single physical host.

Nevertheless, a Hyper-V environment can’t function properly without additional protection as there is always a possibility of accidental data loss, a hacker attack, or an unexpected disaster. To this end, NAKIVO Backup & Replication can be used. Due to multiple data protection options that the product includes, you can be sure that your Hyper-V environment is constantly protected. To test the data-protection solution in your own Hyper-V environment, download a full-featured free trial today!

Hyper-V Technology Overview
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