The Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Surprise

As you might recall Hyper-V Server 2008 is a further Hyper-V optimized version of a Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008, Standard Edition  (technically). Hyper-V Server is also Microsofts free stand-alone server virtualization product.

When comparing Hyper-V Server 2008 to ESXi 3.5, it’s interesting to note the feature gap between the two products. Especially when it comes to high availability: Multiple boxes with ESXi can be used together with Virtual Infrastructure to form a high available virtualization platform with VMotion capabilities. Hyper-V Server 2008 installations can not be used in a failover cluster.


Introducing Hyper-V Server 2008 R2

Alongside Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft also released the beta version of Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. At first I couldn’t find it at TechNet, but then I realized it’s under Applications, instead of Operating Systems or Servers. Thanks to Volker Will for pointing out the download locations.

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is the next version of Hyper-V server. It offers extended functionality beyond the currently released version in terms of system capabilities and installable roles

System capabilities

The table below illustrates the maximum number of processors, maximum amount of RAM and maximum amount of virtual guests you can run on both versions of Hyper-V Server:


Hyper-V Server 2008

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2

Maximum number of x64 Processor sockets (physical processors)



Maximum number of Processor cores (logical processors)



Maximum amount of RAM

32 GB

1 TB

Maximum number of running Virtual Guests




Thanks to Arlindo Alves for pointing out these figures.

The other usual suspects for Hyper-V we already knew for Windows Server 2008 R2 are also present in Hyper-V Server 2008 R2: Features like Live migration and Core Parking are standard capabilities for the R2 Hypervisor.

Installable roles

After installing Hyper-V Server 2008 r2, looking at the installable roles, something struck me. I’ve posted a screenshot below, that might also surprise you:

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2

One of the roles you can install on Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is the FailoverCluster-Core role. Since this is the only role you can deploy on Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (besides the obvious Bitlocker, Domain Controller tools, Multipath IO, .Net Framework 2, Powershell, SNMP, the telnet client and Windows Server Backup features) we can conclude Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 supports clustering of the Hyper-V role.

The updated Hyper-V Configuration Utility even features the role as Failover Clustering Role. Option 8 allows for modification of the setting.


Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 can be downloaded here.



With clustering capabilities built into Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, Microsoft brings its free stand-alone server virtualization product on par with VMWare’s free ESXi 3.5 in the area of high availability.

I’m really curious to the new stuff we might see in ESX 4 and the consequence this news has on future versions of vCenter…

Further reading

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta now Available!
Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta
Free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta released
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta Released
Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 R2 Beta
Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Introduces Live Migration for Hyper-V
BIG Hyper-V News Part III: Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta Now Available!!
Release: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Beta released
Microsoft releases stand-alone Hyper-V 2.0 with Quick and Live Migration
Hyper-V 2.0: Live Migration

One Response to The Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Surprise



    Just one remark here. ESXi is indeed free but you need to buy enterprise licenses to enable clustering and VMotion. In addition, you need to buy VirtualCenter to create a cluster and to use VMotion. From the moment you buy the enterprise licenses there is no difference in price between ESXi and full ESX.

    Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 on the other hand provides clustering and live (and quick) migration completely free without the need to buy any license or management server.

    It will be interesting to see the response from VMware. Maybe they could release a stripped down VirtualCenter that allows one to create a cluster of ESXi boxes and perform live migration/HA without any license. Time will tell…

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