Installing Hyper-V: Which way is best

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The Hyper-V component exists in three ways, and in fact this very situation was discussed at length with Hyper-V MVP Aidan Finn on a recent episode of the Veeam Community Podcast. The important thing to note is that Hyper-V can exist in three principle ways, described below:

Windows Server 2012 (full) with Hyper-V

This scenario is where a physical server has Windows Server 2012 installed as a full installation and then the Hyper-V role is added. In the full installation option of Windows Server, the complete user interface and tools are present.

Windows Server 2012 (core) with Hyper-V

This scenario is where a physical server has Windows Server 2012 installed as a core installation and then the Hyper-V role is added. The core installation option of Windows Server has a limited on-console administrative interface. This is limited to PowerShell and the Command Prompt. Remote server administration (via the new Server Manager) and other remote techniques are fully supported on core installations.

Hyper-V Server 2012

This is the free hypervisor edition of Hyper-V. This is effectively the Hyper-V role without the Windows Server component. So, this means that additional roles cannot be added to the Hyper-V server (the previous two examples can have them added however). Remote server administration (via the new Server Manager) and other remote techniques are fully supported here as well. There is a text-based and useful interface that can configure things like server name on Hyper-V Server 2012. This interface is shown in Figure A below:

How to install the Hyper-V host the best way
Figure A - Configurations

With each of these configurations, the basics are available for effective management:

  • Management with Hyper-V Manager: The full installation could be on-console, all others would be remote.
  • Inventory in System Center Virtual Machine Manager: This is critical for larger Hype-V installations to have a single management interface for all hosts.
  • APIs for backup: Hyper-V in every manifestation makes this consistent for backup vendors
  • Windows Updates are supported

I’ve excluded the Hyper-V feature within Windows 8 as I want to keep this as a server discussion. With this information, VM admins may be stuck trying to determine what is the BEST way to deploy Hyper-V? Well, here are a few recommendations from my own virtualization practice. There are a lot of benefits to each option, and Microsoft has made public preference to the core installation option. This reduces storage, update footprint and other system resource utilization on the host. In my personal practice, I don’t usually find my virtual environments (or at least my hosts) storage capacity constrained. Storage performance is another discussion! I feel like we will always still need to do Windows Updates, or at least define an update window for maintenance reasons. Lastly, I’m not good at PowerShell. So, that means in a troubleshooting situation, I’d need to be comfortable in it.

This means for me as a VM admin, I’d be best with the full installation of Windows (when this is an option) to run Hyper-V. In the podcast mentioned earlier, that was Aidan’s preference as well.

Which do you see as the best way to deploy Hyper-V in the server capacity? Share your comments below!

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About the author
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Rick Vanover (MVP, vExpert, Cisco Champion) is the director of Technical Product Marketing & Evangelism for Veeam Software based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick’s IT experience includes system administration and IT management; with virtualization being the central theme of his career recently.
Follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover or @Veeam.