I have been trying to install System Center Essentials 2010 on a test VM for the past couple of days and the setup failed each time I tried!!!
I have started my troubleshooting by reviewing Event Logs and there was no much details about the root cause. Afterwards, I have expanded my research and tried to install SCE 2010 Resource Kit to get my hands on the SetupLogParser.exe tool.
Once I ran the SetupLogParser.exe tool I opened the SCEMSI.log which helped me to identify the exact error from the failed setup (Error 1602).
When I searched more for this error, I tried the solution listed in this page and guess what? issue with SCE 2010 setup was resolved, and I was able to complete my deployment of SCE 2010 on the test VM.
In summary, you need to make sure that the VM you are using to host the SCE 2010 is not cloned from an existing VM.