Microsoft is making room for more Linux distros on its virtualization platform with the release of Linux Integration Services 3.5 (LIS 3.5) for Hyper-V.
Linux Integration Services is a driver package that provides "synthetic device support in supported Linux virtual machines under Hyper-V," describes Microsoft in the product download page. Specifically, the software provides driver support, developed specifically for Hyper-V, for network controllers and IDE and SCSI storage controllers along with support for Fastpath boot, symmetric multiprocessing, KVP (Key Value Pair) exchange and jumbo frames, among several other capabilities.
Hyper-V Program Manager Ben Armstrong announced in a blog post that his group expanded "distribution support to include Red Hat Enterprise Linux/CentOS 5.5 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux/CentOS 5.6." He added that the software package "brings much coveted features such as dynamic memory and live virtual machine backup to older RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] releases."
The new software also exemplifies Microsoft's efforts to fashion Hyper-V into a virtual environment that's more welcoming of open-source operating systems. "This release is another significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to provide great support for open source software on Microsoft virtualization platforms," wrote Armstrong.
He also said that in "the true spirit of open source development," the project now has a github repository. "All code has been released under the GNU Public License v2. We hope that many of you will use it for your custom development and extension," added Armstrong.
Depending on the version of Hyper-V (2012 R2, 2012 or 2008 R) and the guest Linux OS in use, LIS 3.5 offers expanded feature support compared with its predecessor. On the storage front, LIS 3.5 supports VHDX resize, which allows administrators to "resize a fixed-size .vhdx file that is attached to a virtual machine," according to Microsoft. In addition, LIS 3.5 enables support for the TRIM command, which helps lengthen the useful life of solid-state drives (SSDs), live virtual machine backups and virtual Fibre Channel.
Hyper-V is Microsoft's virtualization platform and the company's answer to VMware's industry-leading technology.
While discussing the many performance upgrades that Microsoft baked into Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 (relative to Server 2008), Chris Avis, senior IT evangelist at Microsoft, said in a May 2012 interview that Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012 level "the playing field with VMware." Server 2012 bowed in support for 1,024 active virtual machines, up from 384, and doubled the number of supported virtual processors to 1,024 from 512.
"Raising our game so that we support a similar amount of processors, a similar amount of RAM and to be able to do the same amount of live migration scenarios levels the playing field of Hyper-V, versus VMware," added Avis.
Don Heinsen, a consultant and Microsoft Certified Professional Systems Engineer, agreed. "This is very impressive technology," he said. "It's clear that Microsoft is investing tremendous amounts of time, resources and R&D effort in developing the technology."