LABS GALLERY: System Center Virtual Machine Manager R2 Is Essential for Hyper-V

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LABS GALLERY: System Center Virtual Machine Manager R2 Is Essential for Hyper-V

by Cameron Sturdevant

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At a Glance

I'll start with the ending. This screen shows in summary what I was able to do with SC VMM 2008 R2. Starting from the top left, you see that I have seven physical host systems under management. In blue, you see that five of the systems are under limited management. This is because they are VMware virtual machines running in both Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 and vSphere 4 environments. Two of the systems, shown in green, are the physical systems running the newly released Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system with the Hyper-V role enabled. Moving clockwise, you see that my test environment was composed of 25 virtual machines, most of which were running and some in flames as a result of my various test configurations. Library resources are shown next, followed by the status of various management jobs that were in process when this screen shot was taken.

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System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

Even better than the all the documentation and "solution accelerators," this installation screen clearly explains what components make up a System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 installation. You'll need a VMM Server and at least one (and probably several) administration consoles. You can create a VMM Self-Service Portal using Microsoft's Internet Information Services. Each physical host system needs a local agent to communicate with the VMM Server. And if your organization wants to use the new PRO (Process and Resource Optimization) features, you'll need to integrate SC VMM with Microsoft's System Center Operations Manager. This gallery looks at a basic SC VMM set up; I'll be going deeper into the PRO features in a review later this fall.

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Preparing for Installation

There are a number of prerequisites for installing SC VMM. I used the SC VMM configuration analyzer (update 1) to evaluate configuration settings on computers that I was going to use for SC VMM. In addition, I relied extensively on the SC VMM 2008 R2 deployment guide. I spent several hours making sure that the system I was using was set up to successfully install SC VMM. I installed all the components on a virtual machine running Windows Server 2008 R2 on an HP DL360 G6 and DL380 G6 using Intel Xeon 5500 series processors.

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Select Host Server

There are a couple of things happening in this slide. I'm selecting the Windows Server 2008 R2 systems that have the Hyper-V role enabled so that I can manage them with SC VMM. What you see in the center of the screen is that I've selected a Host Failover Cluster that was created during a previous set of tests conducted by my colleague Jason Brooks. jb-cluster-3 is a Windows host failover cluster composed of two physical systems running Windows Server 2008 R2. The next slide shows how SC VMM handles this case.

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Failover Cluster Detection

SC VMM detected that the physical system I selected to manage—in this case, the HP DL360 called esf310—is in a Windows Server 2008 failover cluster. SC VMM is about to put all nodes in the failover cluster under managment and is asking for permission to proceed. According to the documentation, SC VMM is not aware of failover clusters created in Windows Server 2003.

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Library Share Settings

During initial installation of SC VMM, a number of settings are configured to enable management features. In the Library Resources screen, you see an early snapshot of resources that we in the Labs configured for use in SC VMM tests. You can see a range of resources that are geared primarily for virtual machine provisioning, including virtual machines and hard drives. There are also hardware profiles (setup files that specify what hardware attributes should be assigned to a virtual machine), along with guest operating system profiles.

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Installation Settings

Here you see port specifications for a default installation of the SC VMM server. There are a number of configuration settings that should be carefully thought out and then documented during the installation process. Where the Windows Firewall is turned on, the installation program will attempt to add firewall exception rules to each port. When other security devices are present, as is usual, the ports will need to be opened for the SC VMM implementation to work. Involve your security team early in the testing process to ensure a smooth implementation of SC VMM.

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Live Migration

This screeen shows running virtual machine esf321 migrating from physical host esf310 to physical host esf312. The operation looks the same even with a number of migrations under way. Behind the scenes, some of those migrations are being queued using newly added "live migration queueing," part of what puts the "R2" in this release of SC VMM. Although live migration is a big deal in the new release of Hyper-V, it is a catch-up feature, with Hyper-V still working to make up ground in terms of the features that have been available for years in VMware products.

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Summary of Settings

Here you see a quick summary of the basic settings for an installation of SC VMM. What you can draw from this is that I did a lot of work beforehand: I ensured that the Microsoft SQL Sever database was in place; I checked on security settings for our network to permit essential communication between the SC VMM agents and the SC VMM server; and I made sure there was enough disk space for the library share. Plan on spending a fair bit of time with the deployment guide before getting started.

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Here you see SC VMM successfully connecting to my SQL Server 2008 installation, as well as the use of the Windows Automated Installation Kit before actually adding the SC VMM server. I included this shot to emphasize the amount of work that is needed to prepare for a successful SC VMM installation.

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Adding Virtual Machines

In the center of the screen you see a list of jobs that have successfully completed, including the discovery of the eWEEK Labs failover cluster. Shown here is the process of adding various Hyper-V hosted virtual machines.

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Configure Hardware for Virtual Machines

This screen shows the familiar process of creating a new virtual machine for use in a Hyper-V environment, but being created through the SC VMM interface. One of the chief reasons to use SC VMM is that it centralizes virtual machine tasks. SC VMM has role-based administrative access, so IT staff can work in authorized areas without accidentally damaging virtual machine resources needed by other departments.

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Networking Configuration

I included this slide only to point out changes that Microsoft must make to Hyper-V to compete with VMware. Here you see hypervisor networking that is limited to the functionality and management capabilities of the Hyper-V role. In contrast, VMware's vSphere 4 provides a distributed switch that can span across servers and also supports a virtual switch from Cisco.

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Add a VMware VirtualCenter Server

Now for something VMware doesn't do: SC VMM can manage both Hyper-V and VMware environments. In my tests, I was able to add VMware management servers from both the widely deployed Virtual Infrastructure 3 platform and VMware's latest release, vSphere 4. Here you see that I'm preparing to add a VirtualCenter server called ewk-vcenter.

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Importing VMware Virtual Machines

Here you see me adding three physical host systems that make up my VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 environment. They are joining the two hosts running Hyper-V, shown in the tree just below.

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The three VMware hosts have been added, and I'm now attempting to connect to a virtual machine running in that environment. To do that, I had to install an ActiveX control. Once that was done, I was able to access the virtual machines running on VMware.

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Here you see Windows Server 2003 running in a virtual machine created in VMware, being managed and viewed by System Center Virtual Machine Manager running on a virtual machine created in Hyper-V.

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