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Microsoft Hyper-V, codenamed Viridian and formerly known as Windows Server Virtualization, is a native hypervisor; it can create virtual machines on x86-64 systems running Windows. Starting with Windows 8, Hyper-V supersedes Windows Virtual PC as the hardware virtualization component of the client editions of Windows NT. A server computer running Hyper-V can be configured to expose individual virtual machines to one or more networks.

Hyper-V was first released alongside Windows Server 2008, and has been available without charge for all the Windows Server and some client operating systems since.

Hyper-V implements virtual machine isolation in terms of a partition. A partition is a logical unit of isolation, supported by the hypervisor, in which each guest operating system executes. A hypervisor instance has to have at least one parent partition, running a supported version of Windows Server (2008 and later). The virtualization stack runs in the parent partition and has direct access to the hardware devices. The parent partition then creates the child partitions which host the guest OSs. A parent partition creates child partitions using the hypercall API, which is the application programming interface exposed by Hyper-V.

A child partition does not have access to the physical processor, nor does it handle its real interrupts. Instead, it has a virtual view of the processor and runs in Guest Virtual Address, which, depending on the configuration of the hypervisor, might not necessarily be the entire virtual address space. Depending on VM configuration, Hyper-V may expose only a subset of the processors to each partition. The hypervisor handles the interrupts to the processor, and redirects them to the respective partition using a logical Synthetic Interrupt Controller (SynIC). Hyper-V can hardware accelerate the address translation of Guest Virtual Address-spaces by using second level address translation provided by the CPU, referred to as EPT on Intel and RVI (formerly NPT) on AMD.

Child partitions do not have direct access to hardware resources, but instead have a virtual view of the resources, in terms of virtual devices. Any request to the virtual devices is redirected via the VMBus to the devices in the parent partition, which will manage the requests. The VMBus is a logical channel which enables inter-partition communication. The response is also redirected via the VMBus. If the devices in the parent partition are also virtual devices, it will be redirected further until it reaches the parent partition, where it will gain access to the physical devices. Parent partitions run a Virtualization Service Provider (VSP), which connects to the VMBus and handles device access requests from child partitions. Child partition virtual devices internally run a Virtualization Service Client (VSC), which redirect the request to VSPs in the parent partition via the VMBus. This entire process is transparent to the guest OS.

XenServer is the leading open source virtualization platform, powered by the Xen Project hypervisor and the XAPI toolstack. It is used in the world’s largest clouds and enterprises.

XenServer is an enterprise-class, cloud-proven, virtualization platform that delivers all of the critical features needed for any server and datacenter virtualization implementation. The following list summarizes some of the key capabilities of XenServer, and a complete technical FAQ can be found on the Citrix support web site.


XenServer is based on the Xen Project™ hypervisor. The Xen Project hypervisor is a bare metal virtualization platform used by XenServer to deliver near native application performance for x86 workloads in an Intel and AMD environment.



XenCenter provides all the virtual machine management, monitoring and general administration, and general administration functions in a single interface. Administrators can easily manage hundreds of virtual machines from a centralized, highly available management console that installs on any Windows® desktop. The resilient distributed management architecture in XenServer distributes server management data across the servers in a resource pool to ensure that there is no single point of management failure.


Role-based administration improves security and enables delegated access, control, and usage of XenServer pools by maintaining a tiered access structure with varying levels of permissions.


Receive immediate notification with historical reporting of VM performance to enable the rapid identification and diagnosis of fault or failure in the virtual infrastructure.



XenMotion™ eliminates the need for planned downtime by enabling active virtual machines to be moved to a new host with no application outages or downtime.


Move live running virtual machines and their associated virtual disk image within and across resource pools leveraging local and shared storage. This enables users to move a VM and its virtual disk image from a development to production environment, move between tiers of storage when a VM is limited by storage capacity, and perform maintenance and upgrades with zero downtime.


Deliver high availability by automatically restarting virtual machines if a failure occurs at the VM, hypervisor or server level. Link aggregation bonds network interfaces for network redundancy and increased throughput.


Take advantage of embedded hardware features to lower datacenter electricity consumption by dynamically consolidating VMs on fewer systems and then powering off underutilized servers as demand for services fluctuates.


Reduce costs and improve application performance and protection by sharing unused server memory between VMs on the host server.


Enables resource pools to contain servers with different processor types, and support full XenMotion, high availability, and shared storage functionality.


Provides site-to-site disaster recovery planning and services for virtual environments. Site recovery is easy to set up, fast to recover, and has the ability to frequently test to ensure disaster recovery plans remain valid.