Some preview content about System Center Virtual Machine Manager Beta 1 concepts:

Virtual Machine Manager

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 is a standalone server application used to manage a virtualized datacenter running Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2. Virtual Machine Manager is tightly integrated in the System Center family of products, and together these products provide comprehensive management of physical and virtual environments.

Requirements for participating in Virtual Machine Manager Beta 1

For Beta 1, you will install Virtual Machine Manager Server, the Virtual Machine Manager Administrator Console, and the Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal on a single, dedicated server. The server must have at least a 2 GHZ processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 20 GB of free disk space.

Support for Beta 1 customers

Beta 1 customers have access to the beta newsgroups through Microsoft Connect. Product team members monitor this newsgroup and respond on a best-effort basis during business hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M. Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8).

Virtual Machine Manager interfaces

Virtual Machine Manager provides several interfaces to enable managing a virtualized data center.  The administrator console is a windows application that provides full management capabilities.  The self service portal is a web interface that exposes limited functionality for workload administrators to manage their VMS.  Both of these interfaces are built on the Windows PowerShell Command line interface provided by Virtual Machine Manager.

Virtual Machine Self-Service

Virtualization is commonly used in test and development environments to enable frequent provisioning and teardown of virtual machines. These tasks are easier with virtual machines than with physical hardware. Virtual Machine Manager allows administrators to delegate these tasks to users.  The user is presented with a Web page that enables virtual machine provisioning within preset controls. 

Virtual Machine Hosts

A virtual machine host is a physical computer that hosts one or more virtual machines. Hosts that have been added to Virtual Machine Manager are known as managed computers. Until you add a host, you cannot create virtual machines, and many of the actions in the administrator console are not available.

Virtual Machines

A virtual machine is a computer within a computer, implemented in software. A virtual machine runs on a virtual machine host, and emulates a complete hardware system, from processor to network card. Virtual machines typically consist of one or more .vhd files, a .vmc file, and other properties. A virtual machine managed by Virtual Manager Machine can be in one of two basic states: "placed" on a host or "stored" in the library.

Choosing a Host for a Virtual Machine

Placement is the selection of a virtual server host for a particular virtual machine.  Any time you want to put a virtual machine onto a host, you will go through the placement process.  Virtual Machine Manager will provide host ratings which indicate the suitability of the host for a specific virtual machine.  The rating is calculated based on CPU utilization, memory utilization, physical disk space, disk utilization, and network utilization and takes into account:

  • Virtual machine requirements
  • Average host resource availability
  • Host reserves

The ratings are from 0 stars (not suitable) to 5 stars (very suitable).  Placing a virtual machine on a host with a higher rating will provide better performance for the virtual machine.  You may place a virtual machine on a host regardless of the rating as long as the host has enough physical disk space available.

Virtual Machine Manager Library

In Virtual Machine Manager, the library stores all resources that are used to create and manage virtual machines—including virtual machines that have not been assigned to a host, templates, hardware profiles, guest operating system profiles, ISOs, and scripts.

The library is a management construct in the Virtual Machine Manager database. The database keeps track of the library server, the library shared folder, and the library objects. You can use library objects to create new virtual machines. Library object include:

  • Template. A replica computer hard disk, a master installation of the operating system and applications, and from which all identity information has been removed.
  • Virtual Hard Disk. A virtual machine hard disk is implemented as a .vhd file that resides on a host file system. Virtual hard disks can either fixed size or dynamically expanding.
  • Stored Virtual Machine. A managed virtual machine whose .vhd files, .vmc file, and other properties are stored in the Virtual Machine Manager library.
  • ISO. A standard CD or DVD disk image format.
  • Script. A script is a file you create that describes the steps required to complete a task. For example, you can script the task of enabling VMRC access on hosts that will have self-service virtual machines placed on them. The sysprep file used in creating a new virtual machine from a template is another example of a script.

Monitoring Tasks

A task is a job in Virtual Machine Manager that changes the state of a resource. Most tasks are composed of a series of steps. An administrator can manually restart a task, but cannot choose the step from which the task is restarted. For example, adding a host, starting a virtual machine, and adding an object to the library are all tasks.

Checkpoints

A checkpoint enables an administrator to roll the virtual machine back to its state at the moment the checkpoint was created. Checkpoints are portable; when a virtual machine is migrated from one virtual machine host to another, the checkpoints migrate along with the virtual machine.

More resources:

TechNet Scripting Center

VMM on Microsoft.com

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