Windows Server Core


Can you please explain the benefits of having Windows Server Core as a Hyper V Host instead of using Windows Server Data center - I am looking for the overall experienced benefits (day to day) rather than the official ones from Microsoft.  How do you as a techie find it compared to the Data center version.

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I assume you are asking about Windows HyperV Server 2012 R2 - the hypervisor Microsoft offers for free download from their website.

If you run your Datacenter edition in Core mode as best practices suggest you'll find no difference between the two.

That said, it can be VERY difficult to manage a core mode server (either edition) if you aren't familiar with it, ESPECIALLY how network adapters are built up and torn down when you use NIC teaming. Once that lightbulb comes on you'll have no worries. You can use corefig (a free download from the web) for either edition to help  you through some of the config if needed)

I'm told (and have not noticed in over 18 months of production use) there are no code differences between the editions any more - something that makes it a simple command to add or strip the GUI and to upgrade the license from standard to datacenter (there is however no downgrade path)

All of this of course is independent of any licensing concerns.  Once you get to 10 windows VMs on a server you're pretty well at the breakeven place for just being money ahead to buy datacenter.
You can't really compare the two. The core version is free, but you don't get any licenses for the Guest OS's. Datacenter on the other hand isn't free, but you get normal server licenses to run as guests or hardware.

Core doesn't use many resources and doesn't have much running in the background, reducing areas of attacking it. So if you have a datacenter license you'd probably be running core on your hosts.

It is a bit like VMware's ESXi is also free, and it is what the host runs on, also when you have the additional payed for products.
I should also say that datacenter edition gives you the OPPORTUNITY at least to load other roles / features / services on the hypervisor host. While there are a couple of things you can load on HyperV server, its a VERY short list. Given again that best practice is to not load anything on the host other that the hypervisor role, I don't see this as a particularly important point, but I suppose one worth mentioning.

And again, as Rindi mentioned and I alluded to earlier, there are definitely costs associated with licensing regardless of which model you choose

I happen to be running the Hyper-V server version for the reduced surface and because I came to an organization that already had a sizeable number of windows standard licenses and no datacenter licenses, with no good way to upgrade without throwing away all the money we had spent on the standard licenses before. Frankly, theres little reason to use the free Hyper-V host unless youre loading it up with all non-windows guests and just need a free hypervisor to run them on.
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If you are just going to use it for non Windows guest, then Hyper-V wouldn't be what I would choose to use as the Hypervisor. There are better options to host non Windows guests, like KVM which runs under Linux and is also free, or ESXi. Both of those need far fewer resources than Hyper-V core, which still needs a minimum of 1GB RAM. Besides that, although it now does have some support for Red-Hat and Ubuntu guests, that support in my point of view is still rather limited when compared to the others I mentioned, and are also free type 1 Hypervisors.
Kash2nd Line EngineerCommented:
to add to above comments, if you want to manage core, there are some free software you can install on your computer to do so such as 5nineManager, HyperV Manager from MS free.
minniejpAuthor Commented:
Hi all,

Thanks for all your comments....we have purchased datacenter but I want to know am I better installing datacenter on the host or core for performance and security?

Install Datacenter. It will automatically license any of the new guests you install on it. You can always remove the GUI afterwards to reduce the attack surface and eck out perhaps a little more performance.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Is this a standalone or clustered setting?

We install Core for all cluster nodes. For standalone we tend to install full GUI for manageability purposes and in case we need to run troubleshooting and/or recovery in an emergency.

Core = less reboots and longer uptime (our lab settings have Core servers still running from get-go on 2008 R2 so ~900-1100 days).

Core = simplified setup. We use PowerShell to configure everything for both Core and GUI but find that GUI gets in the way. :)

If new to Hyper-V then install GUI and get used to the PowerShell commands for setup and management plus troubleshooting.

I have an EE article on Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices that may be of value to you too.
minniejpAuthor Commented:
It's a standalone environment with just one server....
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
In that case I suggest running with the FULL GUI install.

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Windows Server 2008

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