This morning we announced the general availability of System Center 2012 SP1. You can read more about the release on the System Center blog:
Here are some general changes in Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) in the System Center 2012 SP1 release that you might need to consider:
- The VMM Self-Service Portal is no longer supported in System Center 2012 SP1. Instead, we recommend that you use System Center 2012 SP1 – App Controller as the self-service portal solution. For more information about App Controller, see App Controller.
- Self-service users can now use the VMM console instead of the VMM Self-Service Portal to perform tasks such as deploying virtual machines and services.
- High availability with N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is no longer supported. VMM is compatible with virtual (synthetic) fiber channels that are configured for virtual machines in Hyper-V.
The following tables summarize VMM enhancements and other changes in the System Center 2012 SP1 release.
There are enhancements to the matrix of supported versions of operating systems and other required software. For a complete list of supported and required configurations, see System Requirements for System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager.
System Center 2012 SP1 – Virtual Machine Manager now manages Windows Server 2012 which delivers numerous enhancements to the Microsoft Hyper-V features, as follows:
- Large virtual machines
- Clusters that can support a larger numbers of nodes
- Storage management through SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative – Specification)
See the Supported Storage Arrays section in Configuring Storage Overview.
Ability to manage vSphere 5.1 and Citrix XenServer 6.0. For more information about Citrix, see Managing Citrix XenServer Overview. For more information about vSphere see How to Add VMware ESX Hosts to VMM and How to Configure Network Settings on a VMware ESX Host.
Configuring Fabric Resources in VMM – Networks
There is a new model for virtual machine networking, including network virtualization and virtual local area networks (VLANs) for network isolation.
You can now manage the Hyper-V extensible switch, including deployment and configuration of virtual switch extensions using a new logical switch concept.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM provides network virtualization that includes support for using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to assign customer addresses using Network Virtualization with Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE) to virtualize the IP address of a virtual machine.
Software-defined networking is new with support for Hyper-V network virtualization and switch extension management. This allows a constant network configuration in the datacenter.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM introduces the concept of a logical switch that allows you to manage individual switch instances across multiple Hyper-V hosts as a single entity.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM provides the ability to deploy and manage third-party switch extensions, such as Cisco 1KV and InMon. For organizations that have investments in these third-party products, these can be integrated into VMM.
Configuring Fabric Resources in VMM – Storage
SC 2012 SP – VMM now supports file shares that leverage the new 3.0 version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol that is introduced in Windows Server 2012. VMM in this release includes support for designating network file shares on Windows Server 2012 computers as the storage location for virtual machine files, such as configuration, virtual hard disk (.vhd/.vhdx) files and checkpoints.
SMB 3.0 file shares provide the following benefits when they are used with VMM in this release:
- Hyper-V over SMB supports file servers and storage with improved efficiency compared to traditional storage area networks (SANs).
- If you use SMB 3.0 file shares as the storage locations for virtual machine files, you can “live migrate” virtual machines that are running between two standalone Hyper-V hosts or between two stand-alone Hyper-V host clusters. Because the storage location is a shared location that is available from the source and destination hosts, only the virtual machine state must transfer between hosts.
You can create SMB 3.0 file shares on standalone Windows Server 2012 file servers and on clustered Windows Server 2012 file servers. If you use a standalone file server, you can designate an SMB 3.0 file share as the virtual machine storage location on a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host cluster. However, this is not a highly available solution.
For more information about SMB 3.0 in Windows Server 2012, see Server Message Block Overview.
For more information about how to create a highly available SMB 3.0 file share, see Scale-Out File Server for Application Data Overview, and steps 1 and 2 of the Deploy Scale-Out File Server scenario that is linked to from that topic.
The new Windows Standards-Based Storage Management service replaces the Microsoft Storage Management Service in System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager. The new service uses the Windows Storage Management application programming interface (API), a WMI-based programming interface that is included in Windows Server 2012. This new API enables you to discover storage by using multiple provider types.
The Windows Storage Management API supersedes the Virtual Disk Service (VDS) interface. Therefore, if you are using a storage array that uses only the VDS hardware provider (and not SMI-S), storage area network (SAN) transfer capabilities will no longer be available. A SAN transfer enables you to migrate a virtual machine from one location to another when the virtual hard disk is located on a storage array. The logical unit number (LUN) that contains the virtual machine is remapped from the source computer to the destination computer instead of transferring the files over the network.
In this release, VMM supports the following types of storage providers and arrays:
- SMI-S CIM–XML, which existed in System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager. For more information about the supported storage arrays, see the Supported Storage Arrays section of Configuring Storage Overview.
- Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP)
Supported array: Dell EqualLogic PS Series using iSCSI.
Now with SP1 there is support for auto (dynamic) iSCSI target systems, such as the Dell EqualLogic PS Series. System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager supports only static iSCSI target systems.
Thin provisioning of logical units through VMM is now possible. Your storage array must support thin provisioning and thin provisioning must be enabled for a storage pool by your storage administrator.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM supports integration with third-party SANs and file-based storage on a Windows Server 2012 file server.
Configuring Fabric Resources in VMM – Hyper-V
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM now supports using a virtual hard disk that is in the .vhdx format as the base operating system image.
Also new is operating system deployment that utilizes deep discovery and Consistent Device Naming (CDN). CDN allows VMM to predictably assign network interface controllers (NICs) to the correct networks and teams.
During the discovery process, you can run deep discovery to see more detailed information about the physical computer hardware before you deploy the operating system. In this release, deep discovery functionality is only partially enabled. You can view the physical network adapter information, information about the CPU, and the amount of memory. You can configure network options such as logical switches, and you can change the settings for the network adapter that VMM automatically designates as the management network adapter.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM also provides support for
- physical network adapter configuration as follows:
- IP configuration
- Logical switch creation
- NIC Teaming
- Support for host vNIC configuration.
- Support for startup disk selection as part of operating system deployment.
- Enhanced default auto disk selection logic as part of operating system deployment.
Virtual Machines and Services
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM provides support for deployment of services to virtual machines in a domain or workgroup that does not have a trust relationship with the domain of the VMM management server.
In Hyper-V only, support is provided for the deployment of services to virtual machines that are not connected, where the service instance does not have network connectivity to the VMM management server, to a VMM library server, or to both.
Now in SC 2012 SP1 – VMM when you are deploying a virtual machine as part of a service and creating a SQL Server profile, there is added support for SQL Server 2012 as an instance of Microsoft SQL Server.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM provides the following enhancements to application profiles:
- For the deployment of application packages, added support for updated versions of the following applications:
- Web Deploy 3.0
- Data-tier Application Framework (DAC Fx) 3.0
- Server App-V SP1
- Support for application profiles that run multiple scripts before and after installing an application on a virtual machine, and if a script fails, the capability to rerun if specified to do so in the profile.
- Support for deploying MSDeploy packages to existing Internet Information Services (IIS) servers, whether they are virtual or physical, managed by VMM or not (Web Application Host).
You can now add Windows Server 2012 roles and features when creating and deploying services, such as the Windows Server Update Services role.
There is now support for IIS application hosts, which allow you to deploy websites into pre-existing IIS web farms.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM adds support for the new version of the virtual hard disk format that is introduced in Windows Server 2012. This new format is referred to as VHDX. Compared to the older VHD format, VHDX has a much larger storage capacity of up to 64 TB. The VHDX format also provides data corruption protection during power failures. Additionally, it offers improved alignment of the virtual hard disk format to perform well on large-sector physical disks.
Support for VHDX includes the following:
- You can convert a virtual hard disk for a virtual machine that is deployed to a Windows Server 2012-based host from the .vhd to .vhdx virtual hard disk format. The conversion includes any associated checkpoints.
- If you create a new virtual machine with a blank virtual hard disk, VMM determines whether the format should be .vhd or .vhdx, depending on the operating system of the host that is selected during placement. If it is a Windows Server 2012–based host, VMM uses the .vhdx format. If it is a Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1–based host, VMM uses the .vhd format.
- If you provision a physical computer as a Hyper-V host, you can specify a .vhdx file as the image for the base operating system.
- You can use VMM to “rapidly provision” any virtual machines that use VHDX-based virtual hard disks from SAN-copy capable templates.
- A VMM library server that runs Windows Server 2012 automatically indexes .vhdx files.
- In addition to the small and large blank .vhd files that were available in previous versions of VMM, the VMM library in System Center 2012 SP1 also contains both a small (16 gigabytes (GB)) and a large (60 GB) blank .vhdx files.
For more information about the benefits of the VHDX format in Windows Server 2012, see Hyper-V Virtual Hard Disk Format Overview.
You can now provision a physical computer as a Hyper-V host. When you provision a physical computer as a Hyper-V host, you can use a Windows Server 2012-based virtual hard disk that is in the .vhdx or .vhd format as the base operating system image.
For background information about adding a physical computer as a Hyper-V host, see Adding Physical Computers as Hyper-V Hosts Overview.
Linux-based virtual machines are now fully supported with the following:
- Added settings for Linux-specific operating system specialization when you are creating a Linux-based virtual machine template. Important: These settings are supported only when the Linux virtual machine is deployed on Hyper-V.
- Ability to include a Linux virtual machine template in a service template that deploys a multi-tier application or service.
- Updated Windows PowerShell cmdlets to support this new functionality.
You can now configure availability options for virtual machines on Hyper-V host clusters by using the VMM console, without having to open Failover Cluster Manager.
SC 2012 SP – VMM supports live migration outside a cluster. This is in addition to supporting live migration within a cluster. Live migration outside a cluster allows you to perform live migration between two standalone computers that are not cluster nodes.
For more information about live migration in Windows Server 2012, see the following topics:
- Virtual Machine Live Migration Overview
- Virtual Machine Storage Migration Overview
- Migrating virtual machines and storage in System Center SP1 – Virtual Machine Manager
Live migration between nodes in two different clusters is also now supported. You can migrate between nodes within a cluster, or between nodes in different clusters.
Storage migration, which allows for the migration of virtual machine storage is now supported. You can migrate storage in order to update the physical storage available in Hyper-V, or to mitigate bottlenecks in storage performance. Storage can be added to either a standalone computer or a Hyper-V cluster. Then, virtual machines can be moved to the new storage while they continue to run.
SC 2012 SP1 – VMM also supports live VSM. By using live virtual system migration (VSM) you can migrate both virtual machines and storage in a single action.
You can perform multiple concurrent live migrations of virtual machines and storage. The allowable number of concurrent live migrations can be configured manually. Attempted concurrent live migrations in excess of the limit will be queued.
Integration of third-party user interface (UI) add-ins for the VMM console can now extend the functionality of the console. For example, you can create console add-ins that will allow you to do the following:
- Add ribbon entries in the VMM console to launch web browsers and Windows applications directly from the ribbon.
- Enable new actions or additional configuration for VMM objects by writing an application that uses context that is passed regarding the selected VMM objects.
- Embed custom Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) UI or web portals directly into the VMM console’s main views to provide a more fully integrated experience.
Virtual Machine Manager Add-in SDK in the TechNet Wiki.
There are several significant performance enhancements to the VMM console. Load times are decreased and the performance of sorting and filtering views is significantly improved. For viewing job history, jobs are now loaded incrementally and the views have a richer set of data-filtering options, reducing the effect of large sets of jobs on console performance.
Overview pages in the VMM console now display various reports about usage and capacity metrics for services, tenants and clouds.
Performance and scalability:
- Increased the scale of a VMM management server to be able to manage 600 hosts and 12,000 virtual machines.
- Support for a 64 node cluster.
- Performance enhancement to the VMM console.
Integration with Operation Manager as follows:
- Ability to use Operations Manager to view information related to application hosts, load balancers, and user roles while also being able to monitor virtual machines, services, host systems, network adapters, and other elements of the fabric.
- Receive notifications from Operations Manager if the load on a cloud has exceeded a chosen threshold of fabric capacity. Concurrently review other clouds for available excess capacity that can be reallocated to meet the demand.
- Generate reports that track the resource usage of each configured service or service user, to aid in capacity planning.
In App Controller in System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, the following new features are available:
- Upload a virtual hard disk or image to Windows Azure from a VMM library or network share
- Add a virtual machine to a deployed service in Windows Azure
- Start, stop, and connect to virtual machines in Windows Azure
- Copy a virtual machine from VMM to Windows Azure
- Deploy a virtual machine in Windows Azure to create a cloud service
- Add a Service Provider Framework (SPF) hosting provider connection