For most of the last decade Microsoft has been impacting server rooms with its free and easy to use Windows Hyper-V virtualization software, enabling IT departments to maximize their use of expensive Servers and storage. Virtualization has also made creating new servers and testing environments quicker to implement, making server creation as simple as a few commands or running one wizard, and with Azure, Microsoft has taken virtualization to a massive level which can be accessed by anyone, regardless of how small they are.
Since the first version of Hyper-V in 2008, Microsoft has made virtualization a priority and has not stopped improving the service, with Windows 2012 making it a truly enterprise service, by including full PowerShell administration and REST API’s, a complete Networking stack, support for 320 CPU’s and 4TB of memory, and a focus on security. In Windows 2016 Microsoft continued to improve Hyper-V, with support for Containers, Shielded Virtual Machines where administrators can’t see the video output and data on disks, and Nested virtualization, as well as many other features. Hyper-V is truly an enterprise system, capable of fulfilling any need.
But the biggest change Microsoft has made is with the introduction of the Cloud virtualization product Azure IaaS. Utilizing over 80 data centers in 36 regions, Azure is a vast virtualization system which can give even the smallest business the resources to build and maintain the complete stack of virtual server, networking, and storage, for a minimal cost and without the need to host any hardware onsite. For the enterprise client, Azure gives them a large scale, geo-redundant system with as much storage, CPU, memory, and networking immediately available as they require, with the benefit of state-of-the-art physical security and worldwide access, and the ability to connect all of this seamlessly to their existing on-premise systems.
One of the other advantages of Azure is in Disaster Recovery. Most companies view disaster recovery as having offside backups, but Azure can take this to a whole new level by utilizing Azure Site Recovery, a service where a virtual copy of onsite systems can be created and constantly updated in Azure without the need to maintain complex replication and cluster systems. This makes it possible to protect onsite Hyper-V and VMWare hosts, plus physical systems, running both Windows and Linux operating systems, not only to ensure that the data and virtual disks are not lost, but to have the machine up and running in an Azure virtual machine with no loss of data and available to the rest of the enterprise within minutes of the failure of a single machine, hosts or a complete loss of a site.
Virtual machines are also behind Microsoft’s Office365 products, giving Microsoft the ability to add large numbers of machines to any tenant that requires them at a moment’s notice, or scaling down while traffic is light. This ability translates into a service that is never slow, regardless of the number of users connecting to it, and something a traditional on-premise system could not manage.
Microsoft has been and remains committed to virtualization as the way forward, with constant improvements to both Hyper-V and Azure IaaS, including the introduction of new features such as Containers, to create a truly robust and industry leading offering.