Virtualizing OpsMgr 2007 Roles

In the last couple of years, virtualization technology has become the “hot thing” in the IT management space because it is seen as reducing overall IT costs which is every CTO’s dream. And the fact that you create backups of your environments is a life saver for most organizations by itself. I thought I would take sometime today to talk about virtualization with relation to Operations Manager 2007 and share with you some of the thoughts Rob Scott (senior PM) and myself had on this topic .


The Operations Manager 2007 team officially supports the Database, Data Warehouse, Root Management Server, Management Server, Reporting Server, Gateway Servers and Agents on virtual machines in particular Virtual Server 2005. It should work on VMware but nobody I know has tried it so I cannot say for sure it works on VMware.

Operations Manager Database and Data Warehouse


OpsMgr DB and DW performance on VMs is directly related to SQL Server 2005 performance on VMs.  I read this really good white paper on SQL Server 2005 in a virtual environment which I think is a must read for anyone who is planning to virtualize any of the OpsMgr 2007 components. To give you the “skinny” on what’s written “while virtualization has many benefits, it is not the right solution for every case. For very high throughput applications and database applications that must be highly scalable, virtualization may not be the best choice. In these scenarios, running multiple instances of SQL Server 2005 would be a better choice.” Link to the doc:


My thoughts: If you have a small or medium environment of say 500 or less agents you should be OK virtualizing your DB and DW but anything above that you should look into getting dedicated hardware.


Root Management Server and Management Server(s)


The Root Management Server or RMS as we call it in ‘sunny’ Redmond J  is a central component is OpsMgr 2007. Since it is a core component in OpsMgr 2007 and all console and SDK connections link to it the obvious thought is to virtualize the RMS role. On the Root Management Server, the most critical resource is RAM followed by CPU. Many of the operations performed on the Root Management Server are memory-intensive. Performance problems can occur if the Operations Manager services on the Root Management Server are paged. If you feel that the virtual server can handle the load after reading the perf and scale guide then go for it. The most important resource on a Management Server is the CPU, so if you have a decent CPU then the MS can be virtualized.


My thoughts: If you have a decent budget and can buy dedicated hardware then that is the way to go. Root Management Server is not a good candidate to virtualize but the Management Server is.


Gateway Servers


People seems to think that the Gateway Server (GWS) is essentially another Management Server which is incorrect. The GWS is basically a proxy agent which directs traffic from multiple agents through a single channel to the Management Server.


My thoughts: The GWS is another good candidate to have virtualized.



Key Points:


Few points I would like to emphasize:


1.    Virtualizing a server role makes it much easier to quickly back out changes made to the system and get back to a previous known good state.  This includes OS-level changes like applying patches, SPs, making registry setting changes, file system changes etc.

2.    Virtualizing a server role makes it much easier to move that server role from one physical server to another.  Moving the OpsMgr  DB or DW DB from one machine to another or to move an RMS there is a lot of complexity in moving things around with Ops Mgr.  If these server roles are virtualized then moving the server roles from one machine to another is almost as easy as copying files since everything necessary is encapsulated in VHD files.

3.    Memory gets dedicated to a given VM at startup so as long as you’ve got an extra 32 MB or so of RAM to cover the overhead of virtualization memory shouldn’t be a big issue.

4.    A virtual machine can only use one processor in the current version of VS.  If you’ve got a multi-threaded application this can be a limiting factor.  This is probably one of the more limiting scale factors in running a virtualized RMS since there are three major processes running and each is multi-threaded.


Many of the current restrictions of the current Virtual Server product are expected to be alleviated by Veridian when it ships post-WS2008.  The VHD format will still be supported so it “should” be fairly easy to migrate currently virtualized server roles to new servers running Windows Server 2008 with Veridian.



Satya Vel | Program Manager | System Center |