System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (Part 3) - Introduction to the Console - Segment A

by [Published on 3 July 2012 / Last Updated on 3 July 2012]

In this part of this series, I’ll introduce you to the VMM 2012 console.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

In the previous article in this series, we discovered some of the new features of System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager and discussed each of the product’s roles and prerequisites.

In this part of this series, I’ll introduce you to the VMM 2012 console. This will be the first in a subseries that introduces the console as I intend to explain every obvious function that you see. This is targeted at those that are new to VMM; VMM aficionados might get a bit bored!

Be aware that you cannot use the VMM 2012 console to connect to a server running an earlier version of VMM.

We’ve previously installed all of the VMM components that we’re going to use in this series, so the console is already available to you. When you launch the VMM 2012 console, you will see a screen like the one shown below in Figure 1. Since the console can be installed on any machine, you’re asked to specify the VMM server to which you’d like to connect. As you can see, I’m connecting to a local VMM instance. Further, I will use my current Windows credentials. I am logged in as a domain administrator.


Figure 1: Specify the server and credentials to use

When you first start the console, you will see a screen somewhat like the one you see in Figure 2. In Figure 2, I’ve already added a host, a process you will see later in this series, so there are some statistics already viewable. The statistics information is on the main area of the screen, but your own brand new view should look quite similar outside of this area.


Figure 2: The big picture

Workspaces

In the lower left hand corner of the console, you will see five different workspaces available for your use. Get used to that “workspaces” term, as it’s one that is used across the System Center product line.

  • VMs and Services. This is the workspace in which you’ll probably spend the most time. From here, you deploy and manage resources, including virtual machines and services.
  • Fabric. All of the virtual machines that you intend to manage run on various hardware components. These hardware resources, which include the physical hosts, storage resources and networking components, come together to form the overall fabric of the environment.
  • Library. The beauty of an overall management environment, such as the one provided by VMM 2012, is that administrators can compile resources that streamline the ongoing administrative experience and make it easier for people to do their jobs and, by extension, provide better services to their organizations. The Library workspace helps to make this possible by providing a space for administrators to store virtual hard disks, templates, and profiles as well as a place from which to manage baselines.
  • Jobs. With a ton of automation possibilities at your fingertips, you need a place from which to monitor the various activities that are taking place. That’s where the Jobs workspace comes into play.
  • Settings. Like all software products, VMM has global settings that need to be configured. From here, you will manage items such as Run As accounts—which we’ll discuss in later parts in this series—security, and connections to Operations Manager.

We will cover these workspaces later in this series. For now, our focus in on the VMs and Services workspace and all of the possibilities that it brings to the table.

VMs and Service workspace overview

Note that, in the current view, the VMs and Services workspace is the one that I have selected. Also note again that I’ve already added a Hyper-V host so that you can see some additional options.

Home tab

Specifically, to start, we’re going to focus on all of the elements that are available on the Ribbon’s Home tab, as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3: VMs and Service Home tab

In the Create area, you see four different options:

  • Create Service
  • Create Virtual Machine
  • Create Cloud
  • Create Host Group

Each item is covered below

Create Service

Today’s data centers are becoming increasingly complex entities and applications often span multiple virtual machines or require specialized hardware or software configuration. Deploying these complete ecosystems means touching many different elements of the infrastructure. VMM 2012’s ability to define a service allows administrators to deploy single or multi-tiered applications in their own little ecosystem, which are then managed as a single entity, thus masking the underlying complexity to a degree. In Figure 4, you can see a part of the service template creation process. We will fully cover this concept in later parts of this series, but for now, understand that you can initiate service/service template creation here.


Figure 4: Create a new service template

Create Virtual Machine

The cornerstone of VMM 2012 remains the virtual machine as a building block. Without being able to create virtual machines, there wouldn’t be much point in a product called Virtual Machine Manager.

There are three methods by which you can bring a new vitual machine into the VMM 2012 environment. All three are shown in Figure 5.


Figure 5: Create a new virtual machine

Here are the three options explained:

  • Create Virtual Machine. This option allows you to create a virtual machine from scratch, following a wizard to help you make decision about how to resource and configure it.
  • Convert Physical Machine. Known as performing a physical to virtual (P2V) migration, this option allows you to convert one of your existing physical machines to a virtual equivalent. This option is particularly useful in situations when you don’t want to or can’t simply rebuild a machine in the virtual world but you want to retire the physical server.
  • Convert Virtual Machine. This “V2V” or virtual-to-virtual migration option lets you convert a physical machine running on another hypervisor, such as VMware, to Hyper-V’s native format.

Create Cloud

Microsoft is touting System Center 2012 as a comprehensive cloud management platform, so it’s natural to see some of that terminology making its way into the product. Not all clouds are public entities hosted on the likes of Amazon or Microsoft’s Azure. Many organizations have built their own private cloud environments based on such tools as Hyper-V hosts, clusters of Hyper-V hosts, VMware vSphere resource groups and Citrix XenServer hosts. With the Create Cloud option in VMM 2012, an administrator can create a private cloud in VMM 2012 that includes any of the aforementioned reosurces.

Create Host Group

In VMM, every host is a member of a host group. By default, VMM creates a host group named All Hosts into which newly added hosts are added. Administrators can manage host groups as a single entity and define such parameters as how Dynamic Optimization should work. Dynamic Optimization is the feature that allows VMM to automatically balance running workloads in the host cluster. In Figure 6, you can see a properties page from the All Hosts host group.

Understand that host groups are hierarchical. As such, one host group can contain other host groups. Host groups will be further discussed later in this series.


Figure 6: A look at how you manage host group properties

Assign Cloud

This option allows an administrator to assign a cloud to one or more user roles (Figure 7).


Figure 7: Assign user roles to a private cloud

Overview

As is the case with many areas in the VMM console, the Overview button is context sensitive and, when clicked, will display overview information about the currently selected object. For example, if you have selected a Hyper-V host, you will get information about the selected host, as shown in Figure 8. Likewise, if you choose a host group or cloud, you will get overview information about that object instead.


Figure 8: Overview information about a Hyper-V host

VMs

The VMs option, as you might expect, displays a list of the virtual machines that are running on or in the selected host, host group, or cloud. Some information about the selected virtual machine is also displayed. Please note that this screenshot (Figure 9) tells you that the host on which this virtual machine is running is not responding, which is true because it’s currently down.


Figure 9: A list of VMs on the host

Services

If you’ve created any services, which we briefly discussed earlier, they will be listed when you select this option.

PowerShell

A few years ago, Microsoft released PowerShell and has extended this scripting language to just about all of their new products. PowerShell allows administrators to write scripts that can automate administrative functions. Click the PowerShell icon on the Home tab to open a PowerShell command window.

Jobs

I mentioned before that VMM works by creating jobs that are carried out with the results eventually reported to the administrator. In Figure 10, you can see what happens when you click the Jobs button. It does exactly what it should!


Figure 10: A list of currently running and recently run jobs

PRO

If you’ve enabled Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) in VMM 2012, then you’ve successfully connected your VMM implementation with a running System Center 2012 Operations Manager instance to unlock additional capabilities. With earlier versions of VMM and SCOM, PRO was necessary to perform what many would consider basic operations, particularly those that come from VMware. In VMM 2012, when PRO is configured, you’ll see PRO tips that help you do things better.

We’ll discuss PRO further later in this series.

Summary

In Part 4 of this series, we will move on to reviewing the items available on the Folder tab in the VMs and Services workspace.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

The Author — Scott D. Lowe

Scott D. Lowe avatar

Scott has written thousands of articles and blog posts and has authored or coauthored three books, including Microsoft Press’ Exchange Server 2007 Administrators Companion and O’Reilly’s Home Networking: The Missing Manual. In 2012, Scott was also awarded VMware's prestigious vExpert designation for his contributions to the virtualization community.

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