EDIT: Download Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 from here.
I was talking to Jeff Woolsey (Windows Server Principal Program Manager Lead) tonight and he told me that today at TechEd North America he announced that there will be a Hyper-V Server 2012 R2. This is the free version of Hyper-V, with all of the features (minus the GUI) and all of the scalability that you get with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2. Yes, that includes Failover Clustering (HA), unlimited Live Migration (with compression/SMB), shared VHDX, extensibility, Hyper-V Network Virtualiztion, Hyper-V Replica, etc.
It should be no surprise, but Hyper-V Server has been released with every version of Windows Server. It’s the ESXi Free (and more) killer. Once RTM, it’ll be a free download, as always.
Licensing-wise, Hyper-V Server has a niche market. That’s because you never license VMs for Windows Server, even with VMware or XenServer; you license hosts with Standard (smaller installs) or Datacenter (makes sense financially with around 7 or more VMs per host, depending on Standard versus Datacenter license cost for your specific case). So if you’re purchasing Windows Server per host for the VMs that will run on the host, then you might as well install Windows Server on the host to enable Hyper-V. Where Hyper-V Server does have a place is:
- VDI: where you’re not licensing the host for Windows Server VMs. It might be pointless buying Datacenter edition (unless you’re a hosting company doing shared hosted VDI) when those licensing benefits are going to waste and not cancelling out the cost of the host OS. the free Hyper-V Server has all the same functionality.
- Linux VMs: Same argument as with VDI, and richer than ever with file system consistent backup and full Dynamic Memory support.
- You don’t have licensing for Windows Server, you want to build a host once, and play with downloaded time-bombed demo stuff.
- You licensed your VMs for an older version of Windows with no intention of upgrading, but you’d like to use the newest version of Hyper-V.
- You want to ensure that no one can enable non-Hyper-V related roles/features on the Management OS.
There’s so much in Hyper-V Server. But that’s always been the norm, because Hyper-V IS FREE.