Matthew Hughes is an Independent SharePoint Consultant and the Director or SP365 Ltd. He runs various SharePoint related websites such as sp365.co.uk and is the founder of the Office 365 UK User Group who hold their first physical meeting in London on the 4th September 2012. He is a MCTS, MCITP, MOS in SharePoint and can be found on tweeting regularly @mattmoo2. An advocate of the SharePoint and Office 365 products he can be found regularly speaking at conferences and User Groups around the world.
What a difference a couple of months make, if you didn't get excited in July when the Office 365 Preview hit the web (as well as a subtle mention of a certain SharePoint 2013) you will undoubtedly have gotten a little more excited when the powers that be over at Microsoft HQ mentioned the imminent arrival of Windows 8.
Of course the Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for a little while but the RTM (Release To Manufacture) version was due on the 15th August to Technet / MSDN and Software Assurance customers, so imagine my excitement when I was able to go and grab the latest version of what promises to be Microsoft's most daring OS release since the crazy days of Windows Vista (it wasn't that bad if you had good hardware).
Now this is not another blog post about all the wonderful features of Windows 8 as we all know, there are plenty of them, however, this is a post about one specific feature namely, the addition of a traditionally Windows Server only feature called Hyper-V.
What is Hyper-V
So you have been hiding under a rock since the release of Windows Server 2008 and you missed the addition of Hyper-V it is worth explaining exactly what it is?
Hyper-V is a Microsoft Role or Feature that allows you to create a Virtual Environment inside of your Physical Environment, this is to say that you can create a fully featured Server or desktop environment (guest) inside of your current physical hardware (the host).
Hyper-V requires your hardware to support Virtualisation or more to the point it requires you processor to support hardware virtualisation, whilst most newer CPU’s have this it is worth checking before you go getting all excited about the prospect of virtualising machines. Brad Rutkowski provides a short post about this on Technet.
Excited? Ready to go? Let’s take a look at how to get started with Hyper-V on Windows 8.
Introducing Hyper-V and Windows 8
Hyper-V runs as a Windows Service so we wouldn’t want all of the, soon to be, millions of Windows 8 customers, having a service running that not everyone will utilise, therefore, we need to add the service via the “Turn Windows features on or off” in the usual way we have been accustomed to in the last couple of Windows Operating Systems. Given that it is a service the feature will ask you to restart.
Tip: You can also use this method to add just the Hyper-V Management Tools, which allows you to manage Hyper-V remotely.
Excellent, so now we have the feature we can open up the Management Tool and see what we can do.
In the screenshot above I have created three virtual machines a DC, SQL Server and SharePoint Server, these machines or guests, are now all running inside my host machine.
Also in the screenshot you can see I have the Virtual Switch Manager which allows me to create a private network for these machines perfect for separating them on their own network avoiding potential conflicts, alternatively I can set a network that connects them directly to the internet.
What does all this mean to me?
For IT Pros, Developers and Power Users the options prior to the inclusion of Hyper-V in Windows 8 were Virtual PC, VMWare Workstation, Virtual Server, Box and various other 3rd party Vitualisation products, now that this has become an additional feature to Windows 8, you can simple add the feature and you are ready to setup your development environments.
Of course, you will need to have a good level of hardware to support a couple of couple of virtual machines but laptops and desktops with 4GB – 8GB of RAM are becoming more common place as well as processors that support Virtualisation.
I mentioned that Hyper-V is a service so remember to shut down those guests when you’re not using them, it is easy to close the Hyper-V manager and assume that means the guests shut down too, this is not the case and they will continue to consume valuable resources unless you shut them down in the usual way.
I hope you find this article useful and welcome any feedback via my twitter account or email matt at sp365 dot co dot uk.