2010
11.14

Microsoft released more details about System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 at TechEd Europe 2010 last week.  The release is scheduled for H2 2011.  In the meantime, the next VMM release will be Service Pack 1 for VMM 2008 R2, probably 30 days after the release of SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 (to give us Dynamic Memory support).  The server SP is estimated to be RTM in March 2011.

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Interestingly, and very powerfully, we’re told that VMM 2012 will have the ability to build Hyper-V hosts and host clusters.  Storage and network (VLAN tags and IP ranges) can also be provisioned!  Wow – VMM will become the first thing you need (or really, really want) to install in a Hyper-V deployment!

VMM is moving to being a private cloud product (management and provisioning) rather than just a virtualisation management solution.  Provisioning is more than just pushing out VMs.  It involves deploying services, as well as configuring storage and networking.  Service templates are at the heart of that.  We’ve seen the demos before; you define an application architecture (web servers, database servers, network, etc), define how to scale (server elasticity), and then deploy that service template to deploy the servers and roles.  The elasticity gives you dynamic growth, a key component of cloud computing.

You can deploy three types of service to VMs in a service template:

  • MSDeploy: web apps
  • Server App-V: virtualised services
  • Database apps

Application deployment improvements include custom scripting support.  You can also specify roles/features to enable in Windows Server in the hardware template.

Let’s not knock management.  Long time readers know I’m an IT megalomaniac.  I want complete control and knowledge over my systems.  MS aren’t stupid.  They know that medium and large companies will have a mix of hypervisors.  And that’s why the 2012 release includes additional support for XenServer.

Virtualisation is the foundation of new IT infrastructures, and hence the line-of-business applications, and even the business!  And that’s why the VMM service needs to be made highly available.  That’s not possible now.  We can cluster file services (library) and database (service data and library metadata) but not the service.  The 2012 release changes that.

The delegation model is expanded:

  1. VMM Administrator: manage everything
  2. Delegated Administrator: manage delegated infrastructure
  3. Cloud Manager: manage a delegated cloud and provision it into sub-clouds
  4. Self-Service User: deploy and manage virtual machines in sub-clouds

The outlook is cloudy.  Everything refers to clouds in the interface.  Get over the new ribbon interface and you’ll see that the navigation bar in the VMs and Services view has the traditional Host Groups and a new Clouds section.

A cloud is made up of other clouds, VMware resource pools, or host groups.  You will add one or more networks to a cloud.  You can add load balancer templates to clouds.  Different kinds of storage (high or low performance, for example) can be specified.  Ah – a change I want: now you can specify read-only and read-write library shares.  This has been an all-or-nothing thing up to now.  Maybe we don’t want to allow self-service users to store VMs in the library.  Storage is not cheap!!!  We can specify quotas for number of virtual machines, vCPUs, RAM, storage, and memory.  We can also specify if VMs can be made highly available or not (on a cluster). 

I am looking forward to the beta and testing the new functionality out.

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