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Benefits of Hyper-V Server instead of Windows Server

    Question

  • Hi,

    I'm in the process of migrating from VMware to Hyper-V. I've seen that there is a "dedicated" installation of Hyper-V called Hyper-V Server which essentially is a core installation of Windows Server with Hyper-V installed from what I understand.

    Coming from VMware I'm used to using the host just as a hypervisor, thus not being able to install other software etc. on it.

    Is Hyper-V Server the recommended way to go or should I install Windows Server with Hyper-V instead? Are there any downsides of running Hyper-V Server instead of a full installation?

    I like to keep everything to the bare minimum to avoid all the clutter that comes with installing software that's not needed.

    Do I lose functionality regarding Hyper-V when using this or will it not matter?

    Thanks,

    Monday, February 20, 2017 2:03 PM

Answers

  • Hyper-V Server is more than (less than?) simply Windows Server core with the Hyper-V role installed.  It actually has had nearly all other features/roles removed so that you cannot install them.  There are some things, like failover clustering, that are still there because they can be used with Hyper-V, but it is really a specialized installation.

    The biggest difference is management.  Hyper-V Server does not have a GUI.  That means you have to manage it remotely.  Yes, you can log onto the console, but you are presented with just a cmd window.  That means you have no GUI and must know your command line options if you plan on doing anything from the console.  Remote GUI management at least allows you to still use the GUI.  However, there are some GUIs that do not work well (at all) remotely (device manager comes to mind as being problematic).  If you are not comfortable with command line and/or remote management, you will not be happy with running Hyper-V Server.

    The biggest positive is that with so many roles/features removed from Windows Server in order to make Hyper-V Server, there will be fewer patches to apply to your system.  For example, there is no IIS, so you will not have to apply any IIS patches that come along.  This may or may not mean fewer reboots.  Historically, it has reduced the number of reboots by a little bit, but not as much as Microsoft initially hoped.

    From a licensing standpoint, it does not make any difference in cost if you plan on running Windows Server virtual machine instances.  Some people mistakenly assume that since Hyper-V Server is no cost, they will be saving money.  That is true if you are only running non-Windows Server VMs.


    . : | : . : | : . tim

    • Proposed as answer by Dave PatrickMVP Monday, February 20, 2017 3:37 PM
    • Marked as answer by PatricF Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:08 AM
    Monday, February 20, 2017 3:19 PM
  • "If you don't care about the GUI management on the server, would you rather install a core version of Windows Server thus having the option to install other roles if you needed (don't know why though!?) or install Hyper-V Server instead?"

    Actually, I would seriously consider Nano - faster to deploy and come up, and fewer patches yet.  Really does not make much difference whether you use Hyper-V Server or Windows Server core installation with Hyper-V.  If you are deploying a lot, Hyper-V Server deploys faster.  If you like having one set of media, Windows Server media is good for both Hyper-V deployments and other deployments.

    "Also. Is it possible to install on a sd-card? "

    Completely dependent upon your hardware vendor.  Microsoft provides the ability for hardware vendors to provide this capability, but it is up to the hardware vendor to say they will support it.  By default, it will generally not work.  Many SD configurations use a modified USB controller and present the SD as a removable device.  By default, Windows cannot install to removable media.  (Yes, it can be done, but not in the 'normal' mode of installing from DVD).  That's where the OEM has to come in and provide a driver.  Secondly, there are cautions in regard to using SD as boot media.  Most SD media was designed for use as low-write devices - think storage for digital cameras.  They are not robust enough to handle lots of deletions/rewrites which are typical in a Windows operating system.  The system may work fine for a while, but then you will likely start having IO errors on your OS disk.  Maybe as SD media becomes more robust at handling things beyond cameras, hardware vendors may see a market for SD boot.  In fact, Microsoft's UserVoice (where end users vote for things they would like to see in future releases) has one or two entries requesting official Microsoft support for SD boot.


    . : | : . : | : . tim

    • Marked as answer by PatricF Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:08 AM
    Tuesday, February 21, 2017 1:45 PM

All replies

  • Hyper-V Server is more than (less than?) simply Windows Server core with the Hyper-V role installed.  It actually has had nearly all other features/roles removed so that you cannot install them.  There are some things, like failover clustering, that are still there because they can be used with Hyper-V, but it is really a specialized installation.

    The biggest difference is management.  Hyper-V Server does not have a GUI.  That means you have to manage it remotely.  Yes, you can log onto the console, but you are presented with just a cmd window.  That means you have no GUI and must know your command line options if you plan on doing anything from the console.  Remote GUI management at least allows you to still use the GUI.  However, there are some GUIs that do not work well (at all) remotely (device manager comes to mind as being problematic).  If you are not comfortable with command line and/or remote management, you will not be happy with running Hyper-V Server.

    The biggest positive is that with so many roles/features removed from Windows Server in order to make Hyper-V Server, there will be fewer patches to apply to your system.  For example, there is no IIS, so you will not have to apply any IIS patches that come along.  This may or may not mean fewer reboots.  Historically, it has reduced the number of reboots by a little bit, but not as much as Microsoft initially hoped.

    From a licensing standpoint, it does not make any difference in cost if you plan on running Windows Server virtual machine instances.  Some people mistakenly assume that since Hyper-V Server is no cost, they will be saving money.  That is true if you are only running non-Windows Server VMs.


    . : | : . : | : . tim

    • Proposed as answer by Dave PatrickMVP Monday, February 20, 2017 3:37 PM
    • Marked as answer by PatricF Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:08 AM
    Monday, February 20, 2017 3:19 PM
  • Thanks for the information.

    If you don't care about the GUI management on the server, would you rather install a core version of Windows Server thus having the option to install other roles if you needed (don't know why though!?) or install Hyper-V Server instead?

    Also. Is it possible to install on a sd-card? I use HP ProLiant DL390 servers and have always installed VMWare on sd-cards. Could I use for instance a 32GB card and install Hyper-V Server/Windows Server Core on that and still get the performance out of Hyper-V?
    • Edited by PatricF Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:56 AM
    Tuesday, February 21, 2017 10:06 AM
  • "If you don't care about the GUI management on the server, would you rather install a core version of Windows Server thus having the option to install other roles if you needed (don't know why though!?) or install Hyper-V Server instead?"

    Actually, I would seriously consider Nano - faster to deploy and come up, and fewer patches yet.  Really does not make much difference whether you use Hyper-V Server or Windows Server core installation with Hyper-V.  If you are deploying a lot, Hyper-V Server deploys faster.  If you like having one set of media, Windows Server media is good for both Hyper-V deployments and other deployments.

    "Also. Is it possible to install on a sd-card? "

    Completely dependent upon your hardware vendor.  Microsoft provides the ability for hardware vendors to provide this capability, but it is up to the hardware vendor to say they will support it.  By default, it will generally not work.  Many SD configurations use a modified USB controller and present the SD as a removable device.  By default, Windows cannot install to removable media.  (Yes, it can be done, but not in the 'normal' mode of installing from DVD).  That's where the OEM has to come in and provide a driver.  Secondly, there are cautions in regard to using SD as boot media.  Most SD media was designed for use as low-write devices - think storage for digital cameras.  They are not robust enough to handle lots of deletions/rewrites which are typical in a Windows operating system.  The system may work fine for a while, but then you will likely start having IO errors on your OS disk.  Maybe as SD media becomes more robust at handling things beyond cameras, hardware vendors may see a market for SD boot.  In fact, Microsoft's UserVoice (where end users vote for things they would like to see in future releases) has one or two entries requesting official Microsoft support for SD boot.


    . : | : . : | : . tim

    • Marked as answer by PatricF Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:08 AM
    Tuesday, February 21, 2017 1:45 PM
  • Thanks a lot for the helpful information!
    Wednesday, February 22, 2017 8:09 AM