One of the main things that separates Microsoft's efforts in virtualization from those of our competitors comes down to what happens after you get your virtual machines created.  It becomes all about the management of those machines.  The question I hear a lot is, "How do I manage my machines?"  The answer, when using Hyper-V or Hyper-V Server is easy -- you can use an existing Server 2008 or Vista machine to remotely manage both.  The MMC snap-in, even on my Vista machine, duplicates the snap-in available in Server 2008.  Thus, managing virtual machines is made simple.  But what if you want more?

That's where System Center Virtual Machine Manager comes in to play.  And today marks the "Release to Manufacturing" (RTM) date for System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (SCCM VMM 2008).

Why is This Important, Dan?

I'm glad you asked.  In my previous posts, I've bragged about how you do not need any additional products to manage virtual machines using Microsoft's infrastructure.  I'm not back stepping here.  You do not need any additional products.  As I mentioned earlier, you can use the MMC to manage your virtual installations remotely (from Server 2008 OR Windows Vista).  But, if you want to leverage all of the power of virtualization to create a dynamic datacenter, then SCCM VMM is the product you're looking for.  Using SCCM VMM, you can manage your entire library of virtual machines (even across different hosts) all from within one window. 

  • In comparison, using MMC, you will need to change the host you are managing by connecting to each different host (the same as you would using MMC for any other management function).

You can also use the library to store re-usable pieces, such as offline machines and scripts, for easy access when you need it.

What About Converting Physical Machines to Virtual Machines?

SCCM VMM has the power to help you make the most of your current hardware.  Using the included P2V tools, (Physical to Virtual), you can easily convert physical machines into virtual machines.  If you are also running System Center Operations Manager, you can even leverage a tool called "Intelligent Placement," which will analyze historical workloads and help you determine the best placement of the virtual machine in your network. 

 

Testing and Development

If you read my posts on virtualization entitled, "Which Virtualization is Right for Me?" you will be familiar with the concept of leveraging virtual environments for testing.  SCCM VMM can help you here, as well, allowing you to create delegation for testing and dev environments.  Imagine your authorized users accessing a self-service web portal to construct their own virtual environments for testing and development, all the while keeping you in total control of everything!

 

Already Using VMWare?

Not a problem.  You can leverage the power of SCCM VMM to manage your current VMWare environment side by side with your Hyper-V environment.  Decided that you are in love with Hyper-V?  Why wouldn't you be?  At that point, you can use the migration features built into SCCM VMM to move your existing VMWare machines over to your hyper-V environment.

 

I've downloaded the bits for SCCM VMM 2008 and will be installing this as soon as possible, so expect more good information on this product to appear on these pages soon!