How Hyper-V burned Robert McLaws's datacenter

Windows-Now blogger Robert McLaws details a horror story that no network guy or gal ever wants to face. He was using beta

Hyper-V software in the wild when two hard drives in his datacenter failed within a week. One of his critical servers went offline completely. Backups failed (not entirely the fault of Hyper-V, McLaw's admits). But only at that point did he discover some critical flaws in Hyper-V when it comes to recovering data.

He writes:

Well, as the drive failed and Hyper-V came crashing to a halt, it removed all traces of the Virtual Machine that hosted all of my client sites. In addition, it deleted the snapshot of the server that runs Windows-Now, hence some of the broken images that are coming up at the moment (more on that shortly).

The next several days were extremely frustrating, as I learned a very hard lesson about deploying beta software in the wild. For example, in Hyper-V, "snapshots" are completely misleading. They are not full backups of the VHD file, like one might expect. No, instead, they are like hybrid differencing/undo disks... which would be all well and good if the documentation explained that, but it doesn't. The problem with that is, the changes to the VHDs are not committed unless you explicitly do so. So in the event of a catastrophic failure, you're basically screwed ... I feel I need to stress this point: I hadn't lost a single hard drive in 5 years, I lost 2 inside of a week. The wonderful people at ServerBeach have all but eliminated faulty hardware, which leads me squarely to virtualization solution I was using."

Now, there's no question a person can fault McLaws for using beta software on critical servers. On the other hand, a beta these days is really the closed-source software industry's method of doing quality control. Such companies (with Microsoft the leader here) throw their code over the transom to the public and tell them to pound on it to find the bugs. (Think how well this would go over if internal enterprise IT developers worked the same way - where critical bugs were only discovered when they crashed the business's live data center.) If a software developer isn't going to open its source code so that bugs can be found through intelligent development, then it needs to own up to some responsibility for the "beta" code it writes and releases to the public.

More importantly, what does McLaw's experience say about Hyper-V itself? Is it - will it - be ready for prime time when Microsoft releases it? (As of December, Microsoft said Hyper-V will be available within six months of the release of Windows Server 2008.)

See also, from Mitchell Ashley: Getting Ready For Hyper-V Microsoft Hyper-V Release Candidate In Server 2008

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