Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First look at Microsoft's SCVMM

It was easy to pick up virtual machines we had installed earlier, and also point to another host system running Virtual Server 2005 R2 under Windows Server 2003 and manage those VMs.

SCVMM 2008 also provides integration for WS 2008’s new clustering support, and can be used to set up fault-tolerant VMs, as well as VMs which will preferentially attach to hosts which are part of a cluster. SCVMM 2008 can also now manage a set of clustered VMs together as a single unit.

Apart from the expanded feature set, the GUI has been slightly enhanced, but still looks pretty similar to SCVMM 2007. Because Microsoft has written the 2008 version around its PowerShell (PS) command shell and scripting language, scripts and command files containing scripts can be executed to speed up tasks like migrating a VMware VM using VMotion.

We could use PS scripting to shortcut a lot of tasks, although one problem was how SCVMM 2008 would deal with VMs that needed patching. Currently the only method is to fire up the VM, patch and then restart. It would be nice to see Microsoft introduce a feature where VMs could be patched offline.

One of the key additions in SCVMM 2008 is an integrated performance and resource optimisation tool allowing alerts to be configured warning of specific VM hardware problems which could cause failure of that VM. SCVMM 2008 can be configured to react in real time to the alert and, for example, increase system memory or disk space allocated to the problem VM automatically.


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