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Microsoft Ups the Ante on Hyper-V Migration Speeds

As a follow-up to a demo at TechEd, Microsoft Principal Program Manager Jeff Woolsey showed attendees at July's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) just how much the latest release of Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor can speed up live migrations.

Since the third version of Hyper-V arrived last year with the release of Windows Server 2012, many analysts have regarded its virtual machine live migration capability as one of the hypervisor's key improvements

Hyper-V 3.0 offers faster migrations at speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, while allowing IT pros to conduct simultaneous live migrations. IT pros can also now perform live migrations outside a clustered environment.

As Microsoft explained last year:

"You can configure a virtual machine so that it is stored on an SMB [Server Message Block] file share. You can then perform a live migration on this running virtual machine between non-clustered servers running Hyper-V, while the virtual machine's storage remains on the central SMB share. This allows users to gain the benefits of virtual machine mobility without having to invest in the clustering infrastructure if they do not need guarantees of availability in their environment. (Hyper-V with SMB storage can also be configured with Failover Clustering if you do require high availability."

So how is Microsoft pushing the envelope on live migration in the upcoming Windows Server 2012 R2? In his WPC demo, Woolsey showed an 8 GB virtual machine running SQL Server, which he described as a worst-case scenario for live migration.

[Click on image for larger view.] Screenshot of the Hyper-V live migration demo at WPC.

In the demo scenario, migrating Windows Server 2012 to a like system takes just under one minute and 26 seconds, while the Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview performed the same migration in just over 32 seconds.

Then, using remote direct memory access (RDMA) during the live migration process combined with SMB Direct, the migration took just under 11 seconds, without utilizing added CPU resources.

"With compression, we're taking advantage of the fact that we know the servers ship with an abundance of compute resources, and we're taking advantage of the fact that we know that most Hyper-V servers are never compute-bound," Woolsey said during the demo. "So we're using a little bit of that compute resource to actually compress the virtual machine inline during the live migration. This allows us to compress it and it's actually done a lot faster and much more efficiently. All of this is built into Windows Server 2012 R2."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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