Hyper-V: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Two weeks ago, I wrote about Microsoft's Hyper-V Server 2008, the standalone server version of the Hyper-V role that's also available in Windows Server 2008. Although Hyper-V lacks some of the high-end features available in Windows Server 2008, it does have one thing going for it: It's free. And that fact alone will make this solution interesting in smaller and mid-sized businesses, especially those that aren't ready to make the jump to Server 2008.

The trouble with the standalone Hyper-V product, as previously discussed, is that you can't actually do much with the server from an interactive standpoint. The entire interface is a simple command line menu with only a few options involving creating local administrators, enabling remote access, joining a domain, and the like. To get real work done, you have to connect to the server using the free (and separately available) Hyper-V Manager console. This can be done from Windows Vista with SP1 or Server 2008. How you do it, however, will determine your level of success.

These levels include:

The Good

It turns out there is one sure-fire way to get up and running with Hyper-V Server in a seamless and efficient manner: Install the server in a domain and then configure a Domain Administrator account to be a local administrator on the Hyper-V Server box (using the standard \[domain\]\\[domain username\] syntax). If you do this, you'll have no trouble connecting to the server with Hyper-V Manager, and you'll be up and running in no time, creating VMs in child partitions and wondering what all the fuss was about.

The Bad and the Ugly

If you don't know the aforementioned trick, or didn't stumble into it coincidentally, you're almost certainly in for a world of hurt. This pain was first documented in unintentionally hilarious form by Microsoft's John Howard, back in late March when the first Hyper-V betas appeared for Server 2008 (see the links below for details). The amount of configuration you need to do on the server and the client will vary according to different conditions (domain vs. workgroup, for example, and whether the server is a full-blown Server 2008 machine, Server Core, or a standalone Hyper-V Server). But it's a lot of work and it's not for the faint of heart.

I had mentioned the problems I had with Hyper-V Server here in UPDATE and then on a weekly podcast I record with Leo Laporte. This generated a phone meeting with the Server folks at Microsoft, during which I was briefly worried that I had missed something. Alas, I had not: Microsoft is working to document the steps needed to make remote administration of Hyper-V--either with the standalone product or with Server 2008--work properly. And while there's no ETA on that documentation, they are at least aware of the issues. Hopefully this explanation of my problems getting it working will prevent you from having similar issues. Once you do resolve the connectivity issues, Hyper-V Server is a very capable system, at least for smaller and test environments. And you can't beat the price.

Hyper-V Remote Management (Part 1)

Hyper-V Remote Management (Part 2)

Hyper-V Remote Management (Part 3)

Hyper-V Remote Management (Part 4)

Hyper-V Remote Management (Part 5)

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