Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V: More secure, but not faster

Hyper-V 2016 tightens VM security and eases management, but seems to have lost a step

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At a Glance

With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft has introduced a lengthy list of improvements to Hyper-V. Along with functional additions like container support, nested virtualization, and increased memory and vCPU limits, you’ll find a number of new features, including production-grade checkpoints and the ability to hot-add memory and network adapters, that ease administration.

But Microsoft’s primary goal in the 2016 Hyper-V release seems to have been to improve security. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Hyper-V’s new killer feature is shielded VMs, which work with BitLocker encryption and a guardian service to ensure that virtual machines run only on authorized hosts.

If one Hyper-V 2016 feature would push me to upgrade, it would be the shielded VM feature. But the ability to allocate more memory to Generation 2 VMs, and the ability to hot-add memory and network adapters to virtualization hosts, are also big draws.

One area Hyper-V 2016 may not improve is VM performance. In fact, my Sandra benchmark tests of a Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machine on Hyper-V 2012 R2 versus Hyper-V 2016 indicate a step backward. I wouldn’t call these results definitive by any means, but keep it in mind as you begin evaluating Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V for your own workloads.

The Hyper-V setup process

For the purposes of this review, I upgraded an existing Windows Server 2012 R2 server to Windows Server 2016. For the most part, the upgrade process was almost identical to that of installing Windows Server 2012 R2. The difference was that the Setup Wizard displays a warning message telling you Windows Server upgrades are not recommended, and you should perform a clean installation. The Setup Wizard won’t stop you from performing an in-place upgrade, but you have to click on a Confirm button to acknowledge the warning message.

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