By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2008-03-06 Print this article Print

The new consolidation feature in VirtualCenter 2.5 analyzes physical computers in a domain or workgroup and then provides ratings about the suitability of the system for migration to a VM. The interface stepped us through selecting the physical computers to analyze and provided us with results including a one-to-five star confidence rating that the analysis is correct, a consolidation plan that suggested ESX Server destinations for the new VM and a task pane that shows that progress of the migration process.

To use the Consolidation tool, we first had to use the Microsoft Management Console on the system running Microsoft Virtual Server to enable the local administrator account to be able to log in as a service. We have used network and system management tools that need this type of configuration-Microsoft's Active Directory Application Module, for example. It is a rather heavy-handed way to enable the Consolidation tool, but it ensured that the process was able to run when accessing VirtualCenter 2.5 from the Infrastructure Client.

During our tests, the consolidation process-which only works with Windows systems-was more than a little rough. It wasn't uncommon during testing for the Consolidation tool to list a physical server in active analysis phase while also having a consolidation plan ready. Several attempts to migrate physical servers running Windows 2003 Server ended with "unknown error encountered" messages. We also had problems with domain information being cached in VirtualCenter 2.5 and not updating when new physical systems were added to the network.

We experienced much smoother sailing with the product's new data store browser, to which VMware has added support for uploading files or folders from your client machine to an available data store. We were also able to use the overhauled data store browser to download files or folders to the machine on which we were running the Virtual Infrastructure client, or to shuttle this data between the different data stores that were accessible to our VirtualCenter 2.5 installation.

This feature can really come in handy for ferrying ISO images from wherever you've downloaded them to where they need to be for your VMs to access and use them. With the previous version of ESX Server, we were accustomed to uploading images onto an FTP server in the lab to which we had provided ESX access via NFS (Network File System).

We were also impressed by the new support in VMware's Distributed Resource Scheduler for making, and, if we so chose, automatically implementing power management suggestions based on the active workloads on my cluster. For this release, VMware has labeled this new power management functionality as "experimental"-you want to make sure that VirtualCenter 2.5 can successfully put to sleep and awaken your ESX nodes before you leave it to right-size power consumption on its own. In our tests, this feature worked without a hitch.

Cameron Sturdevant contributed to this article.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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