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Hyper-V is a role included in the Windows Server operating system that enables the creation and management of virtual machines (VMs). This built-in feature provides organizations with tools for optimizing server hardware investments and improving the efficiency of computing resources by running multiple server roles and operating systems as separate VMs on a single physical host.

One of the biggest advantages of Hyper-V is cost savings given that all features are included with the role. No additional licensing is required to enable Hyper-V features, allowing organizations to maximize the value of their virtual infrastructure.

As virtualization technology continues to evolve, Microsoft is at the forefront of those advancements. Hyper-V was first introduced as part of Windows Server 2008, then expanded in Windows Server 2012 with storage and networking features and live migration and replication capabilities. Enhancements to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Host resource protection, which monitors VMs looking for excessive levels of activity and restricts resources to prevent a VM from degrading the performance of the host or other VMs.
  • Virtual Machine Multi-Queue (VMMQ), which enables multiple I/O queues on a network adapter to be allocated to a VM, enabling the network adapter to distribute traffic among queues to avoid overhead on the server CPU.
  • Nested virtualization, which allows a VM to be used as a Hyper-V host and enables the creation of VMs running on the virtualized host.
  • Shielded VMs, which make it more difficult for malicious actors or malware to inspect or tamper with a VM or steal data.
  • Hyper-V Replicas (HVR), which enable either synchronous or asynchronous replication of entire volumes at the block level.
  • Rolling Cluster Upgrades, which allow users to upgrade clusters of Hyper-V virtual machines running on Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 without disruption.

Hyper-V is available in Windows 10, bringing the power of virtualization natively to the desktop. Hyper-V also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Azure, enabling organizations to back up, replicate and migrate the virtual infrastructure to the Azure cloud.

Microsoft is one of two companies ranked as a Leader in Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization. Gartner cited Hyper-V’s low cost and cloud integration as key strengths, and noted Microsoft’s expanding vision for virtualization and focus on application developers.