Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

Virtual Machine Manager Server


The Virtual Machine Manager Server is the core process that communicates with the virtual machine hosts and maintains the system information in a Microsoft SQL Server ™ 2005 database. The VMM Server can scale to manage hundreds of Virtual Machine Hosts running thousands of virtual machines concurrently. The SQL Server database can be SQL Server 2005 Express to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition.

The VMM Server can be accessed through the System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 Administrator Console, Windows PowerShell™ command line, or through the Delegated Management and Provisioning portal.


Administrator Console


The GUI allows administrators to effectively manage an environment of hundreds of virtual machines. The Virtual Machine Manager Administrator Console is built on the familiar System Center framework user interface so that administrators can quickly and easily become proficient at managing their virtual machines. The Administrator Console is built upon a Windows PowerShell command-line interface. Any action in the Administrator Console can be done through the Windows PowerShell command-line and each wizard in the user interface can show the associated command-line actions. In addition, the Administrator Console integrates with System Center Operations Manager 2007 to provide insight into the physical environment as well as the virtual environment. With the ability to map the relationship of virtual and physical assets, IT administrators can more effectively plan hardware maintenance


Windows PowerShell Command-Line Interface


The new Windows PowerShell command line shell and scripting language helps IT administrators more easily control systems and accelerate automation. Windows PowerShell offers more than 170 standard command-line tools, and consistent syntax and utilities, and is easy to adopt, learn, and use because it works with your existing IT infrastructure and script investments. Each VMM operation is directly mapped to a Windows PowerShell cmdlet, allowing for easy command-line actions.


Delegated Management and Provisioning Web Portal


In addition to using the GUI administrator console and the Windows PowerShell command-line interface, administrator-designated end-users and others can access VMM by way of a Web portal designed for user self-service. This portal enables test and development users to quickly provision new virtual machines for themselves, according to controls set by the administrator.


Microsoft SQL Server Database


VMM stores performance and configuration data, virtual machine settings, and other virtual machine metadata in a local SQL Server 2005 database. For reporting, Virtual Machine Manager takes advantage of SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services through Operations Manager. Larger organizations can also configure VMM to work with a remote clustered SQL Server database and a storage-area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) system, if needed.


Virtual Machine Hosts


Microsoft Windows hosts must have the VMM agent software installed


Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 – Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a hosted server virtualization technology made for the Windows Server 2003 platform, and runs most major x86-based operating systems in a guest environment. Virtual Server 2005 R2 runs on both 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x64 hosts. It provides support for 32-bit virtual machine guests.


Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V – Hyper-V is a hypervisor-based virtualization platform that Microsoft has included with Windows Server 2008. Unlike Virtual Server 2005 R2 which is a hosted technology running on top of the Windows Server 2003 operating system, Hyper-V is a hypervisor based technology and it runs directly on the system hardware. Hyper-V can run on a full Windows Server 2008 installation or it can run on a minimal Server Core installation for maximum performance with minimal overhead. Hyper-V requires a 64-bit x64 host and provides support for 32-bit and 64-bit guest virtual machines.


Microsoft Hyper-V Server is a standalone offering that allows customers to consolidate Windows or Linux workloads onto a single physical server without the need to acquire a Windows Server license. It also is hypervisor based technology that runs directly on the system hardware.


VMware ESX – In addition to managing the two Microsoft virtualization products System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 is also able to interact with VMware’s Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3) enabling the management of VMware virtual machines running on ESX. VMware’s VirtualCenter for VMware Server is required for the management of VMware hosts.


VMM Library Servers


The virtualized data center relies on the ability to find and maintain very large image files for virtual machines (known as virtual hard drives, or VHD files). Unlike a physical server, these virtual hard drives can be unintentionally lost or duplicated. VMM provides a complete library to help administrators quickly create new virtual machines.

The library organizes and manages all the ―building blocks‖ of the virtual data center in a single interface, including:

·         Stored virtual machines

·         Virtual hard disks

·         CD/DVD software images, also called ISO files

·         Post-deployment customization scripts

·         Hardware configurations

·         PowerShell Scripts

·         Templates


The VMM library stores virtual assets, including:


Offline virtual machines – The ability to store and quickly re-provision virtual machines makes it more likely that users and administrators will take applications offline that are used episodically, such as applications used for demonstrations. This function saves resources that would otherwise be wasted.

Templates – Wizard-based templates help speed the deployment of new machines, and help ensure that standard hardware and software configurations are used.

Software images – IT administrators use these disc images as an alternative to physical media for software distribution. With these disc images, administrators can distribute software to remote sites using a wide-area network.

Post-deployment customization scripts – After virtual machines are set up, scripts can be deployed to ensure updated security settings or take care of other administrator functions.

Physical hardware settings – With common pre-set hardware settings readily available, IT administrators have control similar to that in a physical environment.


For geographically disperse operations, distributed VMM library servers facilitate the quick transmission of assets to physical hosts at the edge of the organization, enabling rapid creation and deployment of virtual machines in branch offices.

VMM offers enterprise-class features, especially the ability to manage thousands of both Microsoft and VMware virtual machines distributed across various network environments. VMM supports management of hosts on a perimeter network (also known as DMZ, demilitarized zone, and screened subnet) and also the utilization of a remote clustered SQL Server database.



Windows PowerShell


 For even greater automation and control, VMM is fully scriptable using Windows PowerShell. With this tool, IT administrators can run remote scripted services against many virtual machines, thus avoiding labor-intensive manual processes. For example, IT administrators can write Windows PowerShell scripts to perform batch P2V conversions or batch Virtual 2 Virtual (V2V) conversions of virtual disks to the VHD format.


Physical-to-Virtual Conversion


P2V is a core feature of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), no additional costs per conversion. VMM P2V includes the ability to create images of physical hard disks, prepare them for use in a virtual machine, and create the final virtual machine for an end-to-end P2V solution and supports Microsoft Windows® 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008


Intelligent Placement

One aspect where Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) outshines its competition is in helping administrators decide on which physical hosts to place virtual machines. VMM uses the performance data gathered from the Virtual Machine hosts. If data is available from System Center Operations Manager, VMM will also use that data for identifying potential candidate servers for consolidation to the virtual infrastructure.




About Murugan B Iyyappan

Working as a Consultant - Citrix solutions architect with 18 years of experience in the IT industry. Expertise in Citrix products and Windows platform.
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