Archive for February, 2012

5 reasons why small and medium sized organizations choose Hyper-V

Partnership-iconIn todays market, Microsoft looks like it is playing catch up to VMware in the server virtualization / hypervisor space. VMware released vSphere 5 and ESXi (Free) 5 a year ago (July 2011) and the only release Microsoft did in this timeframe is Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1. (March 2011) This release brought Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX.

The question, however, is not if the situation in the market is true, but why a lot of organizations are adopting Microsoft’s virtualization stack instead of VMware’s. Especially in smaller companies, CIOs are more likely to adopt Microsoft’s technologies.

This article explains the main reasons why:


  • Non-enterprise companies don’t need enterprise features.
    While VMware’s flagship vSphere 5 product offers enterprise features like FT and can be extended with vShield and vCloud Director, most companies don’t need this functionality. Most of the time they can’t even afford the hardware required to get it al working. What they do have is a load of physical Windows hosts that result in a huge energy bill. Windows Servers can be virtualized with Hyper-V without problems, allowing organizations to start reducing their energy bills. (and perhaps start saving for those VMware Enterprise Plus licenses?)
  • Small and medium sized companies are no priority.
    As a VMware partner we often refer to VMware as ‘VoiceMailware’. Now, we offer virtualization-oriented services to organizations, ranging from as small as 50 seats to big companies with dozens of virtualization hosts. We know we’re not high on the VMware priority list, but sometimes being focused on profit reaches ridiculous levels. 
    While small companies require a lot of effort from our sales force, we still appreciate their business. A lot of Microsoft Partners share our attitude, and offer services to small organizations. It looks like VMware only picks enterprise-focused partners, partly due to the revenue requirements in their partner offerings. As a small organization, an enterprise-focused partner is not a great match.
  • The Windows their admins know
    While smaller companies can opt for the free Hyper-V Server, they might also benefit when they run a Full installation of Windows Server as their virtualization platform. The Hyper-V Manager and Cluster Manager tools come included with Windows Server and follow the ideas Microsoft have put in their products for years, both locally and remotely.  Even for Server Core installations and the cost-free Hyper-V Server product, a graphical UI is available to manage Hyper-V on the host, resembling the Hyper-V Manager of a Full installation. 
  • Microsoft’s free hypervisor is less limited than VMware’s
    In it’s cost-free server virtualization product, Microsoft has eliminated most of the limitations. Where VMware ESXi 5 Free is limited to 32GB host and guest RAM and does not offer vMotion, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is ‘limited’ to 8 physical processors, 1TB of RAM and 256 Guests per host and it offers Live Migration between hosts. Both these hypervisors are free, but Hyper-V Server offers a scale up path to a (geo-stretched) highly available solution.
  • Licensing Hyper-V is just too easy for small to medium sized companies
    Most small to medium sized companies have bought their current servers with a Windows Server OEM license. These licenses can not be used for virtualization purposes, because they are tied to the physical machine and don’t include virtualization rights. Now, to license a bunch of virtual machines on a dual processor box, Windows Server Datacenter edition is a good solution, even for small businesses, because the license offers unlimited Windows Server virtualization rights when designated to a physical processor in a virtualization hosts. The most cost-effective way for small organizations to buy Windows Server Datacenter licenses is as OEM licenses. The Hypervisor comes installed and it’s Hyper-V! How easy is that! 

    Even if small to medium sized companies buy their hypervisor as part of a volume license with Software Assurance, why would they look at VMware? They already have the licenses and one supplier to talk and moan to.

Switching between GUI modes in Windows Server 8

This post covers a pre-release product and was written in February 2012. The actual product may not reflect the behavior, specifications or intentions found in this post. Use with caution.

ConfigureA couple of months ago, I wrote about the new Server Core and Features on Demand options in Windows Server 8. Today I’ll show you how to switch between the Server Core mode and the Full Installation.

The way you’d use the commands below is to test and deploy your Windows Servers. Remember “Server Core is the preferred deployment configuration.”, but not all software and agents (anti-malware, management, UPS, backup, monitoring, etc.) are ready for a Windows installation with minimal Graphical User Interface (GUI). Starting with Windows Server 8, you can switch from a Full Installation to a Server Core installation after installation. Also, you can switch back in case you forgot to adjust a setting that is only available in the Full GUI.

PowerShell, of course…

It should come as no surprise the commands to switch between Server Core, Features on Demand and Full Installation are available as PowerShell cmdlets. PowerShell has been a Common Engineering Criteria since 2009 and all products and technologies should be used with PowerShell. A positive side effect of having PowerShell commands is you can run these commands with a remote code block on any or all Windows Servers in your Server farm.

The cmdlets are part of the DISM PowerShell Module, so every time you’d like to switch between GUI modes, you need to import the module for the cmdlets to be available.

More a traditionalist?

You can also use the more traditional Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool, known within Windows as dism.exe.

One of the things you should be aware of, is that when you use dism.exe you will need to watch the case of your commands.



mobsyncBasically, Microsoft has made both the minimalistic GUI and the Full GUI features in Windows Server 8. This means, the commands for switching between the three GUI modes are similar to adding a Server Role or Server Feature on Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

From a Full Installation to Server Core

To switch from a Full Installation to the Features on Demand installation option, choose between the following commands:

     Import-Module Dism
      Disable-Feature –online –Featurename ServerCore-FullServer


    Dism /online /disable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer

Afterwards, reboot.

From Server Core to a Full Installation

To switch from a Server Core installation to a Full Installation, requires a bit more work, but is more or less identical:

     Import-Module Dism
     Enable-Feature –online -Featurename ServerCore-FullServer,


     Dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:ServerCore-FullServer
/featurename:Server-Gui-Shell /featurename:Server-Gui-Mgmt

Afterwards, reboot.