Windows Server 2019 – Hyper-V Server 2019

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It’s very easy to get excited about virtualization. Build some hardware, install Windows Server 2019, implement the Hyper-V role, and bam! You’re ready to start rolling out hundreds and hundreds of VMs in your environment… right?

Not necessarily. We haven’t talked about licensing yet, and too often our technological prowess is limited by licensing requirements. The same is true with Hyper-V. Every VM that you spin up needs to have its own operating system license, of course. That requirement makes sense. What isn’t as obvious, however, is the fact that you can only run a certain number of VMs on your Hyper-V Server, depending on what SKU you use for the host operating system itself.

The biggest gotcha is that using Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition as your Hyper-V Server will result in your ability to run two VMs. Two! That’s it, no more. You will be able to launch a couple of virtual machines, and will then be prevented from running any more. Clearly, the Standard Edition SKU isn’t designed to be used as a Hyper-V Server.

That leaves you with Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Edition. Fortunately, Datacenter allows you to run unlimited VMs! This is great news! Except for one thing—Datacenter Edition usually costs many thousands of dollars. This is a very limiting factor for deployments of Hyper-V Servers.

All of this talk about licensing and how messy or expensive it can be leads to one point: Hyper-V Server 2019. Wait a minute, isn’t that what this whole chapter has been about? Isn’t that just Windows Server 2019 with the Hyper-V role installed? No, not at all.

Hyper-V Server 2019 is its own animal. It has its own installer, and a whole different user interface from a traditional server. Installing Hyper-V Server 2019 onto a piece of hardware will result in a server that can host an unlimited number of Hyper-V VMs, but nothing else. You cannot use this as a general-purpose server to host other roles or services. Hyper-V Server also does not have a graphical user interface.

Hyper-V Server 2019 has one huge benefit: it’s FREE. You are still responsible for licenses on each of the VMs themselves, of course, but to have a free host operating system that can run an unlimited number of VMs, now that is something my wallet can really get behind.

I have burned the ISO installer for Hyper-V Server 2019 onto a DVD (thankfully this one is small enough to actually fit!), and just finished installing it onto my hardware. The installation of the operating system itself was completely familiar: all of the installation screens and options were the same as if I were installing the full version of Windows Server 2019. However, now that the installer has finished and I have booted into the operating system of my Hyper-V Server 2019, everything looks completely different:

We are presented with only a Command Prompt, and inside that prompt it has auto-launched a configuration utility called SConfig. By using the keyboard here, I can do things such as set the hostname of this server, join it to a domain, and change networking settings. Once you have finished using this CLI interface to set the basic requirements on the server and get it communicating with the network, we really don’t need to access the console of this Hyper-V Server again, unless you need to backtrack and revisit this configuration screen in order to change something. Instead, after configuring the Hyper-V Server, you simply utilize Hyper-V Manager, or PowerShell, on another server or desktop inside your network, to tap remotely into the management of the VMs that are running on this Hyper-V Server.

In the following screenshot, you can see that I have launched Hyper-V Manager. I am running this instance of Hyper-V Manager from my Windows 10 machine where I have the Hyper-V role installed. From here, I right-click on Hyper-V Manager and choose  Connect to Server…. I then input the name of my new Hyper-V Server, and the console creates a remote connection. From this remote connection, I can now utilize all functionality inside my Window 10 Hyper-V Manager as if I were logged straight into the new Hyper-V Server:

Similar to the way that most tasks performed on a Server Core or Nano Server are handled remotelythrough the use of remote consoles or PowerShellwe make all ongoing maintenance and administration of this Hyper-V Server happen from a remote Hyper-V Manager console.

Hyper-V Server gives you the security benefits of a GUI-less interface, combined with the flexibility benefits of hosting an unlimited number of virtual machines, at a price point that nobody can argue with!

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