The much anticipated VMM 2008 R2 beta is now released. You can go to http://connect.microsoft.com/ and sign up for the beta. Click on “Connection Directory” and sort by the newest beta programs or search for “System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Beta”
What’s New in VMM 2008 R2 Beta
System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (VMM) is a comprehensive management solution for managing virtualized infrastructure running on Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V, Virtual Server 2005 R2 and VMware ESX through Virtual Center. Recently, Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta was released which included significant feature improvements to Hyper-V-the underlying hypervisor platform. A corresponding beta version of VMM R2 – the next version of VMM – is due for release shortly. VMM R2 Beta leverages the new platform enhancements and extends the feature set of VMM 2008. This overview highlights the most important new and significantly enhanced features in the VMM 2008 R2 Beta:
Support for new features of Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta
- Live Migration: – Seen through the VMM console, this enables administrators to move virtual machines from one machine in a virtual host cluster to another with no downtime. This allows administrators greater flexibility in responding to planned or unplanned downtime, provides higher machine availability and more robust fault tolerance within virtualized infrastructure. The basic requirements for Live Migration are that all hosts must be part of a cluster and host processors must be from the same manufacturer. Additionally all hosts in the cluster must have access to shared storage. No changes are required to existing virtual machines, network, or storage devices in moving from Quick Migration to Live Migration other than upgrading to beta versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 and VMM 2008 R2.
- Hot addition/removal of VHDs: Allows the addition and removal of new virtual hard disks (VHDs) on a running virtual machine. This enables storage growth in virtual machines without downtime. Additionally, ‘live” VHD management allows administrators to take advantage of additional backup scenarios and readily use mission critical and storage-intense applications (eg: SQL Server and Exchange).
- New optimized networking technologies: VMM 2008 R2 Beta supports two new networking technologies – Virtual Machine Queue (VMQ) and TCP Chimney – providing increased network performance while demanding less CPU burden. NICS that support VMQ, create a unique virtual network queue for each virtual machine on a host that can pass network packets directly from the hypervisor to virtual machine. This speeds throughput as it bypasses much of the processing normally required by the virtualization stack. With TCP Chimney, TCP/IP traffic can be offloaded to a physical NIC on the host computer reducing CPU load and improving network performance.
Enhanced storage and cluster support
- Clustered Shared Volumes (CSV): Provides a single, consistent storage space that allows virtual hosts in a cluster to concurrently access virtual machine files on a single shared logical unit number (LUN). CSV eliminates the previous one LUN per virtual machine restriction and coordinates the use of storage with much greater efficiency and higher performance. CSV enables the Live Migration of virtual machines in and out of the shared LUN without impacting other virtual machines. Enabling CSV on failover clusters is straightforward and easy to monitor through the VMM administrator’s console; many storage configuration complexities prior to CSV have been eliminated.
- SAN migration into and out of clustered hosts: This allows virtual machines to migrate into and out of clustered hosts using a SAN transfer, which automatically configures the cluster nodes to recognize and support the new workload.
- Expanded Support for iSCSI SANs: Previously, only one LUN could be bound to a single iSCSI target whereas now — with VMM 2008 R2 Beta — multiple LUNS can be mapped to a single iSCSI target. This provides broader industry support for iSCSI SANs allowing customers more flexibility in choosing storage providers and iSCSI SAN options.
Streamlined process for managing host upgrades:
- Maintenance Mode: Allows administrators to apply updates or perform maintenance on a host server by safely evacuating all virtual machines to other hosts on a cluster using Live Migration or putting those workloads into a saved state to be safely reactivated when maintenance or upgrades are complete. Maintenance mode is enabled for all supported hypervisor platforms on Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta.
Other VMM 2008 R2 Beta enhancements
- Support of disjoint domains: Reduces the complexity of reconciling host servers with differing domain names in Active Directory and DNS. In these situations, VMM 2008 R2 Beta automatically creates a custom service principal name (SPN) configured in both AD and DNS allowing for successful authentication.
- Use of defined port groups with VMware Virtual Center: On installation, VMM 2008 R2 Beta will present available port groups for VMM’s use with VMware Virtual Center thus allowing administrators to maintain control over which port groups are used.