Nested virtualization why should I care?

November 11, 2015

One thing I get asked a lot, is why I care so much about nested virtualization and the use case of such technology.

To understand nested virtualization we first need to look at traditional server virtualization.

Traditional Virtualization overview

In a traditional virtualization solution, the physical hardware is abstracted and presented to a guest operating system. The Virtual Machines (VM) are guests of the physical server and communicates with the physical hardware via the hypervisor.

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One physical server, hosts isolated Guest VMs

To provide high availability to the virtualizations solution we add clustering, Storage Area Networks (SAN) and duplicate of dependent peripheral configurations like network hardware and its configuration etc. The physical servers and attached configurations becomes a virtual datacenter that hosts the virtual machines. If we transition from one hypervisor vendor to another we need to convert the workload VMs to fit the new hypervisor. The conversion is sometimes a time-consuming and an expensive job that involves a lot of coordination.

This is something that we nowadays are quite familiar with.

Why nested virtualization then?

What if you wanted a copy of that configuration for testing or development purposes? How do you evolve and enhance your implementation? Do you have the possibility to test changes without impact to your production environment?

To install a virtual datacenter involves quite a lot of hardware that can be expensive and hard to move around.

You might need different configurations, developers for instance often have the need for many isolated environments with different settings. Building physical environments for each could be really expensive.

Nested Virtualization overview

In a nested virtualization solution, the physical hardware is abstracted and presented to a guest hypervisor VM as configurations. The guest hypervisor VM is a guest of the physical server.

The Guest VMs within the Guest hypervisor is unaware of the fact that the hypervisor is virtual and acts in the same way as if the hypervisor was installed in physical hardware.

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One physical server, hosts two separate hypervisors with separate isolated Guest VMs

To provide high availability to the virtualizations solution we use the same setup as in a traditional virtualization solution but we are able to emulate quite a lot of the periferal solutions such as SAN, Networks etc

Further possibilities with nested hypervisors

In a cloud solution, if a cloud vendor supports nested virtualization the format of the workload VM becomes irrelevant.

In a DevOps world the need to quickly build entire configurations becomes even more necessary. No more we can’t afford to have an expensive test environment J

What If we could build those configurations in Azure! the possibilities involved becomes mind blowing.

Microsoft Nested Virtualization

Microsoft has released a preview of nested virtualization in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10565

At the moment only Windows 10, Hyper-V is possible to nest but I expect that to change in the near future. Imagine the Host Hypervisor in Image 2 as a Nano Server with Hyper-V. The Guest Workload VMs as Docker/Windows Containers and full OS VMs. The future looks really interesting J

How to get started

How do I start exploring the possibilities with nested virtualization?

First you need the Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10565.

Once you have installed it you need to enable Hyper-V, if you are unfamiliar with Client Hyper-V check out this MSDN article Hyper-V on Windows 10

Once you are done check out the article on how to enable Windows Insider Preview: Nested Virtualization

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clip_image004 In my lab I installed a Windows 10 host hypervisor with two Windows 10 Guest Hypervisors. Within each guest hypervisor I installed a Guest VM workload with Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3

I tried to get the nesting to work in Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3 as well but I get an error message in the event log and the Hyper V Service wont start. “This device is not working properly because Windows cannot load the drivers required for this device. (Code 31)”

In a PPT from Microsoft https://t.co/ZqCkN16MIr the roadmap for System Center is reviled. The Windows Server 2016 Technical Previews has previously been released at the same time as System Center, so I hope I we will see Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 in November as well.

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On demand training, Windows Azure Pack

August 14, 2014

July 16–17, 2014 Microsoft had a Live training event called Windows Azure Pack: Infrastructure as a Service Jump Start ft a instructor team of Microsoft employees.

During two days you could learn how to use Windows Azure Pack to deliver Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in your datacenter. The content is now available on Microsoft Cannel 9

Have you checked out the Ch9 App for Xbox 360? Pretty nice to be able to watch the content on your home entertainment system 🙂

Full course outline for the two days:

Day One

Day Two

So join the Instructor Team for an exploration of Windows Azure Pack’s (WAP’s) infrastructure services (IaaS)

Windows Azure Pack builds on the power of Microsoft CloudOS brought to your local data center that enables you to deliver an enterprise-class, cost-effective solution for self-service, multitenant cloud infrastructure and application services based on Microsoft Azure, Windows Server and System Center technologies.

· Andrew Zeller | Microsoft Senior Technical Program Manager

· ​Symon Perriman | Microsoft Senior Technical Evangelist
Twitter: @SymonPerriman

· Joe Levy | Microsoft Program Manager
Twitter: @Jodoglevy

· Shriram Natarajan | Microsoft Program Manager
Twitter: @shriramnat

· John Ballard | Microsoft Principal Program Manager

​· ​Vybava Ramadoss | Microsoft ​Program Manager
Twitter: @vybava

· Anshuman Nangia | Microsoft Program Manager


Study guide for Microsoft Certification Exam 74-409

May 20, 2014

Veeam are providing a “Free Study Guide for Microsoft Certification Exam 74-409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center

The guide is a 150 page pdf document that covers the exam objectives in 8 chapters.

You will learn about:

  • Virtual Machine Settings
  • Virtual machine storage
  • Hyper-V Virtual Networks and virtualization networking
  • Implementing virtual machines
  • Managing Virtualization Hosts and Infrastructure
  • Hyper-V Failover Clustering and Failover Clustering Roles
  • Virtual Machine Movement
  • Monitoring and disaster recovery

74-409, 70-246 and 70-247 and how they work together

January 4, 2014

I got a question on twitter regarding the new Microsoft exam 74-409 and the Microsoft Private Cloud exams 70-246 and 70-247.

The new 74-409 Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center exam is as I see it a replacement for the old MCTS/MCITP Exam 70-659 Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization.

Server virtualization is a foundation for a cloud implementation. If you stay on premise in a private cloud, reach out to add online resources in a hybrid cloud or simply move your workload online into a public cloud.

Microsoft Private cloud exam 70-247 Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 teaches you how to use System Center to build your private cloud.

70-246 Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 teaches you how to integrate and maintain your workload in that cloud.

If you haven’t started studying for the Microsoft exams I would suggest that you start with 74-409 followed by 70-247 and 70-246, top that off with a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2012 and you are Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Private Cloud + Microsoft Certified Specialist: Server Virtualization with Hyper-V and System Center.

By the way you know that you can get the 74-409 for FREE 🙂 Check out this article to get started.

Earn Your Microsoft Certified Specialist: Server Virtualization Title with a Free Exam