The Virtualization scenarios are getting more and more excited everyday as more hypervisor enthusiasts are joining the conversation. That said, Microsoft System Center 2012's capability of supporting 3rd party hypervisors in terms of Virtualization platform definitely gives System Center 2012 a thumbs-up.
In this context, Microsoft has done a couple of great and strong improvements in its latest Hyper-V release in Windows Server 2012:
Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 supports Live Storage Migration, where it allows the moving of just the virtual hard disk (VHDX being the new file format introduced) itself during migration and this could happen in the live scenarios.
Hyper-V over SMB. SMB 3 is in there in Windows Server 2012. The first step to enable Hyper-V over SMB is to enable delegation on the computer account of the Hyper-V server and then reboot the computer. The Hyper-V computer accounts must be given permission to shares, and this is made easier by adding them to a group. A file share which is normally set up as a scale out file server share for holding server data such as Hyper-V virtual machines. The Hyper-V-Servers group has full control, which is a requirement for Hyper-V over SMB. In Windows Server 2012's Hyper-V, you can create new virtual machines from a VHD running on an SMB file share, and this share can even be clustered. This is what makes Hyper-V in its 2012 release a strong edge overs its counterparts.
Moving onto disaster recovery, Microsoft has made Windows Server 2012's Hyper-V readily supporting Hyper-V replica. To support this, the Hyper-V hosts need to be replication-enabled. The replication can take place via LAN and WAN, using HTTP as well as HTTPS authentication. WAN replication would use alternate settings such as certificate authentication and perhaps sending the initial replica via media (This is just a few minutes process given on a typical WAN speed).
You can configure an alternate IP to be injected into the replica VM. IP address injection allows you to replicate a VM to a separate subnet or site and pre-configure the replica server to start under a different IP address, local to that subnet or site. This is done using IP Address Virtualization in Windows Server 2012. Hyper-V replica supports both planned failover as well as unplanned failover. Note that the replica direction is reversed after it has taken place. An unplanned failover allows you to start the replica server from the last replication point.
In terms if storage and migration, what impossible in existing Virtualization world is made possible through the use of Shared Nothing Live Migration. Prior to this, we need a shared infrastructure in between 2 hosts in order to perform live migration. This shared infrastructure can be costly on a typical SAN storage. Through the use of Windows Server 2012's new SMB share and storage technology, we can live migrate VMs without any dedicated shared infrastructure in between, eliminating the use of expensive SAN hardware and storage, making the live migration a much less expensive and more financially feasible over more supported scenarios.
You can also setup clustering without an expensive SAN hardware storage now, but instead, you can just use JBOD (Just-a-Bunch-of-Disks) to set up your SMB 3 cluster. This significantly lower down the expensive cluster SAN hardware storage costs and making clustering a much more financially feasible availability and deployment for more customers and businesses, ranging from SMB (Small Medium Business-es) to large business-es. In doing this, you would need to first, install the Failover Clustering on each cluster node followed by creating clusters on it.
The cluster will have no local storage since all storage will be provided by scale-out File Servers. This allows the creation of a cluster using only traditional Ethernet, and without SAN based shared storage, making clustering a financially feasible technology to more customers, supporting a wider range of storage users in this perspective. SMB clusters use file shares as the witness disk. Setting a custom quorum to a file share provides the appropriate configuration for this cluster. This can also be done in PowerShell as well as via the graphical UI (User interface). You can now move any running VMs which need to be clustered to an SMB share that is accessible by both cluster nodes. In Windows Server 2012, you can cluster any running VMs without needing to power off the VM, which is an improvement from its predecessor version. This enables running VMs to e joined to clusters, or moved between clusters for ease of management and maintenance.
Last but not least, in terms of QoS (Quality of Service), Microsoft has also improved on its Hyper-V in the Windows Server 2012. You can define limits on the Bandwidth Management section in Hyper-V Manager in Windows Server 2012 by supplying a minimum guaranteed bandwidth and a maximum total bandwidth. During the transfer of any large file in this case, during live migration or live storage migration for examples, you can define your own bandwidth consumption in a VM which you can throttle with QoS. You can set the maximum bandwidth according to your bandwidth availability, and this can be done via graphical UI as well as PowerShell. With the availability of PowerShell, you can even build more robust automation scripts which can be used in conjunction with System Center 2012 Orchestrator for the most optimized bandwidth consumption in terms of QoS. With more bandwidth slowly becomes available, you can then throttle again to remove any bandwidth restriction.
To try this live in action, you can look at the Hyper-V labs in here http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/hh968267.aspx.
For System Center 2012 labs, go to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh913622.aspx.
For more self-guided learning resources, visit https://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/
To download a Windows Server 2012 Evaluation, go to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/hh670538.aspx
To download System Center 2012 SP1 Beta, goto http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=34607
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Ken Sim, Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation - Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Hyper-V