Features of System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Virtual Machine Manager

Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager 2012 helps enable centralized management of physical and virtual IT infrastructure, increased server utilization, and dynamic resource optimization across multiple virtualization platforms. It includes end-to-end capabilities such as planning, deploying, managing, and optimizing the virtual infrastructure. Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (VMM 2012) is designed to take full advantage of Hyper-V’s foundational benefits through a powerful yet easy-to-use console that streamlines many of the tasks necessary to manage your entire virtualized infrastructure, as well as your physical infrastructure. Administrators can manage their traditional physical server’s right alongside their virtual resources through one unified console. VMM also manages VMware ESXi virtualized infrastructure in conjunction with the Virtual Center product.

“A single pane of glass to manage your entire physical and virtual network”

Centrally creates and manages virtual machines across the entire datacentre

Easily consolidates multiple physical servers onto virtual hosts

Rapidly provisions and optimizes new and existing virtual machines

Hyper-V is the next-generation hypervisor-based virtualization platform from Microsoft, which is designed to offer high performance, enhanced security, high availability, scalability, and many other improvements. VMM is designed to take full advantage of these foundational benefits through a powerful yet easy-to-use console that streamlines many of the tasks necessary to manage virtualized infrastructure. Even better, administrators can manage their traditional physical server’s right alongside their virtual resources through one unified console.

Support for Microsoft Virtual Server and VMware ESX

With this release, VMM now manages VMware ESX virtualized infrastructure in conjunction with the Virtual Center product. Now administrators running multiple virtualization platforms can rely on one tool to manage virtually everything. With its compatibility with VMware VI3 (through Virtual Center), VMM now supports features such as VMotion™ and can also provide VMM-specific features like Intelligent Placement to VMware servers.

Live Migration allows your datacenter to be dynamic

Live Migration enables you to move virtual machines between Hyper-V hosts with no downtime and reduces the planned downtime associated with routine system maintenance. When Live Migration is coupled with VMM’s Performance Resource Optimization (PRO) feature, you can create a dynamic IT environment, automatically reallocating virtual machine workloads based on resource utilization and available capacity. In addition, VMM 2012 supports queuing live migrations; this improvement allows you to now define multiple live migrations and run them one after another in sequence without waiting for the current live migration to complete.

Hot-add and removal of storage

Hot-add and removal of storage reduces planned downtime associated with adding disk storage to your virtual infrastructure to accommodate increased storage requirements. The new Hot-Add and Removal of Storage feature in VMM 2012 allows an administrator to dynamically add and remove VHDs from a running virtual machine with no interruption of service.

Maximize datacenter resources through consolidation

A typical physical server in the datacenter operates at only 5 to 15 percent CPU capacity. VMM can assess and then consolidate suitable server workloads onto virtual machine host infrastructure thus freeing up physical resources for repurposing or hardware retirement. Through physical server consolidation, continued datacenter growth is less constrained by space, electrical and cooling requirements especially with Windows Server 2008 R2 power management enhancements.

Support for Clustered Shared Volumes and third-party CFS

Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) is a new feature in Windows Server 2008 R2 that provides support for live migration. CSV enhances the virtual infrastructure by allowing multiple Hyper-V hosts to access multiple VMs on a single LUN simultaneously. CSV support also enhances Live Migration by allowing individual virtual machines to be moved to different hosts without affecting the other VMs running on that host. With CSV, there is no need to move the virtual machine’s virtual hard disk files to another LUN. In addition, unlike the earlier storage model that required one VM per LUN, the new CSV storage permits multiple virtual machine files to be stored on the same LUN, making storage management much easier. VMM 2012 can also detect and support third-party Clustered File Systems such as Sanbolic.

Machine conversions are a snap!

Converting a physical machine to a virtual one can be a daunting undertaking—slow, problematic, and typically requiring you to halt the physical server. But thanks to the enhanced P2V conversion in VMM, P2V conversions will become routine. Similarly, VMM also provides a straightforward wizard that can convert VMware virtual machines to VHDs through an easy and speedy Virtual-to-Virtual (V2V) transfer process. This is not available in Virtual Manager 2012 R2 version but Microsoft is working on it. If you have to convert Physical to Virtual you have to downgrade to Virtual manager 2012 which has the P2V conversion capabilities.

Quick storage migration

Quick storage migration enables an administrator to move a virtual machine’s storage to a different LUN or even to a different host while the VM is running, both with a minimum of downtime. Typically, the amount of downtime required for quick storage migration is less than 2 minutes, though the actual amount of downtime depends on the virtual machine’s activity level during the move. In addition, VMM 2012 can take advantage of VMware’s Storage VMotion™ feature for moving VMware virtual machines to different storage locations with no downtime. Quick storage migration is especially useful for customers taking advantage of the new CSV feature in Windows Server 2008 R2.

Windows PowerShell provides rich management and scripting environment

The entire VMM application is built on the command line and scripting environment, Windows PowerShell. This version of VMM adds additional PowerShell commandlets and “view script” controls, which allow administrators to exploit customizing or automating operations at an unprecedented level.

Features of System Centre Virtual Manager

Manage multiple hypervisors—VMM 2012 will be able to manage all the major virtualization platforms. In VMM 2008, Microsoft added the ability to manage VMware’s vSphere Server via vCenter Server. With the upcoming release of VMM 2012, Microsoft is adding the ability to manage Citrix XenServer. Notably, but not unexpectedly, support for the older Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and ESX 3.0 has been dropped.

Support for cloud, fabric, and services management—it’s no surprise that VMM 2012 has moved into the cloud and services management space. VMM 2012 adds cloud support, where the cloud is defined as a collection of resources that can be assigned to users or groups. The cloud is composed of a fabric, which is the underlying IT infrastructure, and services, which are collections of virtual machines (VMs) that perform a given task.

Dynamic Optimization—The addition of Dynamic Optimization is Microsoft’s answer to VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler. Dynamic Optimization provides cluster-level workload balancing for VMs. Like the older VMM Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) feature, Dynamic Optimization lets VMM analyse workloads and dynamically move VMs to different hosts by using Live Migration. Unlike PRO, Dynamic Optimization doesn’t require Operations Manager 2007. The PRO feature will still be available in VMM 2012.

Power Optimization—A feature closely related to Dynamic Optimization is the ability to optimize the placement of VMs to minimize power consumption. Power Optimization in VMM 2012 can use Live Migration to consolidate running VMs onto fewer virtualization hosts, then power down the unneeded hosts.

Cluster awareness—One weak point with the previous version of VMM is that it isn’t a cluster-aware application. VMM 2012 is cluster aware and can be installed on a Windows Server 2008 R2 failover cluster, giving VMM 2012 improved availability and the ability to fail over to a backup node in the event of a server failure.

Bare-metal Hyper-V provisioning—Another important new feature in VMM 2012 is the ability to perform bare-metal provisioning of Hyper-V servers. This feature lets VMM create new Hyper-V hosts on bare-metal systems by using predefined templates. VMM 2012 is also integrated with remote management technologies such as ILO (HP’s Integrated Lights Out) and SMASH (Systems Management Architecture for Server Hardware). Like I mentioned above this feature is only available in non R2 version.

Enhanced placement rules—Intelligent Placement enabled the previous version of VMM to evaluate host capacity and suggest the most appropriate virtualization hosts for deployment. VMM 2012 extends this capability with over 100 VM placement checks and also adds support for custom placement rules. In addition, VMM 2012 supports multiple VM deployments as services.

Support for Server App-V—Server App-V is the server equivalent to the desktop version of App-V that Microsoft provides for application virtualization. As its name suggests, Server App-V is designed to virtualize server applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange Server. Using Microsoft’s application sequencing technology, the server applications are converted into Xcopyable images that can be deployed with VMM 2012.

PowerShell 2.0—VMM has always been one of the leaders in PowerShell integration. VMM provides PowerShell cmdlets for command-shell management, and actions in the VMM console can be used as a basis for generating PowerShell management scripts. VMM 2012 enhances this management capability with full support for PowerShell 2.0.

Upgrade support— One other nice feature in VMM 2012 is the ability to perform in-place upgrades from existing VMM 2008 R2 installations. Customers will be able to upgrade from VMM 2008 R2 to the VMM 2012 RC, and then upgrade from the VMM 2012 RC to the final RTM release of VMM 2012.

New Features Added in Virtual Manager 2012 R2 Version

Windows Azure Pack and cloud tools

In addition to the familiar SCOM, SCVMM, and other System Center components, the 2012 R2 line-up includes new tools for duty in the private data center: Service Management Automation (SMA), Service Bus Clouds, Windows Azure Pack (WAP), and Service Reporting. These are portal, data center automation, and multi-tenancy features so important in the service provider and hosting scenarios. This portfolio (which brings proven, cost-effective Windows Azure public cloud technologies to the private cloud), extends the CloudOS and represents a strategic asset for Microsoft. (Joyner, 2013)

Server support

System Center 2012 R2 server-side components prefer the latest server operating system (OS), Windows Server 2012 R2. The major System Center component that requires Windows Server 2012 R2 is SCVMM. Windows Server 2012 is a second choice, and as a third choice, Windows Server 2008 R2 will host most components as well. Orchestrator and DPM servers can still run even on Windows Server 2008. (Users of the SharePoint-based Service Manager Self-Service Portal (SSP) must use Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2.) (Joyner, 2013)

Highly available backup and recovery service

The Data Protection Manager (DPM) component of System Center 2012 R2 now supports the use of clustered SQL Server nodes for its database. This removes the standalone limitation that previously existed, and provides for higher reliability by mitigating the single point of failure when a standalone SQL server is used. DPM can now also be installed on a virtual machine, and backup to storage using .VHD (virtual hard drive) storage pool disks that are shared through the VMM library. (Joyner, 2013)

Backup Linux Virtual Machines

DPM now provides support for the protection and backup of Linux virtual machines when they are guests in a Hyper-V environment. These backups take the form of file-consistent snapshots. (Linux application-consistent snapshots are not yet available.) (Joyner, 2013)

Support for monitoring IPv6

In System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager (SCOM) the Operations console can take IPv6 addresses as input for Network Discovery and display IPv6 addresses in the network- related views. IPv6 information was previously collected and displayed in the SCOM console, but the only way to index network information was using IPv4. This makes SCOM a leader in network management for enterprises using IPv6 in production roles. (Joyner, 2013)

System Center Advisor integrated with Operations Manager

System Center Advisor is a Microsoft online service that analyses uploaded configuration and performance data from selected Microsoft server software. Advisor returns information in the form of alerts. Previously these alerts were only available for push notification in a weekly email dump from Microsoft. New is the ability to view Advisor alerts in the Operations Manager Operations console. This makes it a lot easier to assess the importance and relevance of Advisor alerts in the overall context of the operations environment. (Joyner, 2013)

Service Management Automation for cloud-based workflow orchestration

You can install the Service Management Automation (SMA) web service from System Center 2012 R2 Orchestrator setup program. SMA can be used as part of the Windows Azure Pack (WAP), or to enable you to execute runbooks and perform other automation tasks using PowerShell. (Joyner, 2013)

Create an extended network spanning on-premises site(s) and a service provider cloud

Leverage service provider-hosted private clouds as extensions of your network just as Azure Virtual Network functions with the Azure public cloud. New site-to-site NVGRE gateway network virtualization management in Virtual Machine Manger (VMM) allows you to create your own virtualized network on top of the service provider network infrastructure. You can utilize your own private IP numbering plan within the virtualized network, connect it to your on-premises network, and route into the private cloud as if it were co-located on your wide area network (WAN). (Joyner, 2013)

Manage the latest high-value Hyper-V features

You can now create generation 2 virtual machines and VM templates that are based on these VMs. Generation 2 VMs provide new functionality such as a faster boot, and boot from virtual SCSI controllers. Gain support for live cloning, where virtual machines are exported without downtime, and for online VHDX resize, which allows for online resizing of virtual hard disks while the disks are in use. Another nice feature: enhanced support for Hyper-V Dynamic Memory modification, which can now be changed and applied to a running virtual machine. (Joyner, 2013)

Out-of-band VM management, even from IOS and Android

Remote Console provides the ability to access the console of a VM in scenarios when other remote tools (such as Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP) are unavailable. Note that remote console clients need a computer that supports Remote Desktop Protocol 8.1, which means Windows 8.1 and now even IOS and Android. Remote Console works like the keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) connection that is used by physical computers. (Joyner, 2013)


Hassell, J. (2010, Mar 12). Hands-on: Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2. Retrieved from computerworld.com: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2520309/virtualization/hands-on–microsoft-system-center-virtual-machine-manager-2008-r2.html?page=3

Joyner, J. (2013, October 30). 10 new things you should know about in System Center 2012 R2. Retrieved from techrepublic.com: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-new-things-you-should-know-about-in-system-center-2012-r2/

Schnackenburg, P. (2014, 04 14). System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2: What’s In It That’s Worth It. Retrieved from http://virtualizationreview.com/: http://virtualizationreview.com/articles/2014/04/14/sc-vmm-2012-r2-improvements.aspx

Virtual Machine Manager. (n.d.). Retrieved from cari.net: https://www.cari.net/cloud-hosting/dedicated-private-cloud-hosting/microsoft-system-center/virtual-machine-manager.html

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