System Center 2012 SP1 – Virtual Machine Manager – The Review

I have been using Virtual Machine Manager since the 2008 version and watched the development with big enthusiasm. The launch of System Center 2012 was beyond impressive, and Service Pack 1 – that will support Windows Server 2012 (Hyper-V) will be even more stunning.

Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 – what value does it bring to your business?

System Center 2012 SP1 – Virtual Machine Manager is the management layer for your infrastructure like virtualization hosts, storage, networking (pooled resources) so you can deliver cloud services to your business and customers. I believe that there’s no need to dive into all the features in Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012, because you have most likely heard a lot of them by now. The bottom line is that many organizations, independent of the size of their businesses, are looking towards Microsoft’s premium hypervisor in these days. All the known challenges and limitations from earlier versions are now addressed in this release. Multi-tenancy, VM mobility, optimization in the entire stack, and simplified management, licensing and disaster recovery to mention a few, will automatically give your ROI a solid burst.
Virtual Machine Manager is an abstraction layer above your infrastructure and you can manage those components completely from a single pane of glass.
Investments made in storage will let customers benefit from JBOD and commodity hardware in their environment by using file storage (SMB 3.0) as an alternative to block storage (iSCSI, FC) which is often associated with expensive SAN’s, switches and cables.
Virtual Machine Manager will leverage SMB and file shares (also scale-out file servers) and take care of the required configuration (no need to map permissions on individually shares and folders).
Of course, if you have invested in a SAN solution, you can leverage this from VMM as well with the support for SMI-S protocol.

To summarize the value of VMM for your fabric, VMM will support the lifecycle of your resources. All the way from bare-metal deployment of virtualization hosts by using PXE, creation of clusters, servicing and maintenance through the integration with WSUS. Needless to say, the bigger environment you got, it’s more likely that VMM will become a good friend of you.

Complexity and simplification

Network virtualization is a key feature in Hyper-V to support multi-tenancy. It’s a very powerful technique to scale your network as well, by using IP encapsulation – which is default in VMM (requires only one PA from the physical network fabric, instead of one PA for each CA if you are using IP rewrite). To configure network virtualization in Hyper-V without VMM, you must polish your kung-fu skills in Powershell. With all the respect to powershell, it’s great to configure and automate every single process in your system, but with network virtualization, it’s hard to manage a dynamic environment. And especially large environments with multiple hosts and clusters. This is where VMM comes to the playground and takes care of every bit, acting like a policy server controlling IP pools, VM networks and also routing within your environment, and also outside your network.

Beyond virtualization – and beyond private cloud

For those of you who have already played with the Beta, VMM introduces tenants in this build.
A tenant administrator can create and manage self-service users and VM networks. They can create and deploy their own VMs and services using the VMM console and a web portal.

To see the big reasons for this, we must first see the big Picture.

System Center 2012 SP1 – Orchestrator will include SPF – which is Service Provider Foundation.
This will let customers use VMM, OpsMgr and Orchestrator together in a multi-tenancy environment.
To explain this as simple as possible, you can use the SPF-activities in Orchestrator to create runbooks that will communicate with the VMM web service through OData, and use REST. You can connect to SPF by using your own existing portal, Windows Azure Services for Windows Server and also System Center App Controller.
An interesting scenario here is when you have reached your capacity in your own private cloud, you can connect to a SPF-cloud (which could be a partner, or another cloud vendor) to increase capacity and scale to meet your needs. There might be reasons why you can’t use, or won’t use IaaS in Windows Azure for this, and that’s when this is really handy. Needless to say, App Controller will of course manage IaaS in Azure so that you can deploy virtual machines both on-premise and to the big blue cloud.

So you are interested in the best management tool for your cloud infrastructure?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-          <!--[endif]-->Guess what!

System Center 2012 SP1 – Virtual Machine Manager will be the ultimate solution for you. Not only embracing the components in your own datacenter, and integrates with the other components of System Center, but it is also a framework to deliver automated and effective cloud solutions to your customers.