An overview of the new features in VMM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 6

~ Manish Jha | Program Manager

NEWWith Update Rollup 6 for System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM 2012 R2 UR6), Microsoft continues to deliver on its promise of improved hybrid cloud capabilities and enhanced support for workload creation and management. With investments in areas such as WAP capabilities for network usage monitoring and improved support for protection through Azure Site Recovery, our users can safely rely on our management solutions for their virtualized workload in hybrid cloud environments. We have added a unified management experience for on-premises VMs as well as for Azure VMs through the VMM console. We have also announced support for the deployment of Generation 2 VMs through Services and VMRoles. These offerings let System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) users deploy Generation 2 VMs through their Azure subscription as well as through on-premises datacenters. Users can now also manage both types of VM instances by using the VMM console.

What follows is a more detailed account of key VMM capabilities that are added by Update Rollup 6.


Improved hybrid cloud support

As on-premises datacenters make a collective push toward a hybrid cloud ecosystem, we have listened to our customers, both enterprise and hosters, regarding what they thought were the greatest avenues for investments in SCVMM vis-à-vis hybrid cloud offerings. Therefore, we are glad to announce three important improvements in System Center Update Rollup 6 for System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager:

1. Improved checks for E2A protection scenarios: Update Rollup 6 for System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager allows users to configure disaster recovery for on-premises to on-premises as well as on-premises to Azure scenarios. Currently, SCVMM does not let users enable Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Protection for a virtual machine that’s deployed on a cloud with on-premises to Azure protection if the VM does not have an operating system version or operating system disk specified.

Before the update, if the VM configuration was not supported for replication from an on-premises to Azure protected cloud because of one or both of the checks mentioned earlier, the user was not informed about the failure when they tried to enable replication from VMM. Moreover, the failure was reported on the ASR portal, which is not directly visible from the VMM environment. This meant that the user had to go to the ASR portal for verification. Now with this update, the user is informed proactively about invalid configurations along with recommendations about how to fix the failures from within the VMM task log.

2. Option to overcommit replica clouds and host groups for replica VMs: System Center Virtual Machine Manager lets you put your replica VMs on a preconfigured cloud or host group, based on your settings. VMM currently assumes that all of the resources allocated to replica VMs are under use and therefore does not let you put any replica VM on a cloud or a host group if the aggregate capacity of all the replica VMs surpasses the capacity of the cloud or the host group.

This behavior, although ensuring that all replica VMs can simultaneously boot up if necessary, can lead to sub-optimal usage of replica clouds and host groups if enterprise customers or hosts want to pack more VMs into a cloud or a host group (i.e. they want to overcommit the replica cloud or host group).

Update Rollup 6 for System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager introduces new functionality in VMM that lets users overcommit clouds and host groups in their environments.

Frequently, an enterprise customer or a host knows that they will not require that all replica VMs be running simultaneously, so they prefer to pack more VMs per replica cloud or host group based on the requirements. This brings significant savings for the cloud and host group resources and helps our customers manage their datacenters more economically.

Note that at any stage, users can revert to the default behavior by setting associated registry key to zero.

3. Enhanced WAP capabilities: This change introduces two new rules that target Hyper-V hosts which can be used by VMM cloud admins to implement the chargeback system on network usage through WAP:

a. Total Inbound VNic Network traffic collection rule
b. Total Outbound VNic Network traffic collection rule

These rules measure the total inbound and total outbound traffic (respectively) in kilobytes (KB) per VNic per VM as follows.

For each VM:

a. If not enabled, enable Hyper-V metering and break.
b. Execute Measure-VM.
c. Gather metering data for each remote address per VNic.

By default, these rules run every 1 hour. Users may opt to override this default setting by disabling the IntervalSeconds property. These rules should not be run more frequently than every 5 minutes (300 seconds).


Unified management through the VMM console

With VMM 2012 R2 UR6, Virtual Machine Manager offers a very simple way for a VMM Fabric administrator to add a Microsoft Azure subscription to VMM. After users have added the Microsoft Azure subscription to VMM, they can get a view of their Azure instances directly from the VMM console, and they can perform some simple actions on these instances.

Although in the long term our vision is to establish WAP as the console of choice for on-premises and Azure workload management, we still see this feature as a value-add to a large set of users who don’t yet use WAP or who don’t want to incur the overhead of WAP. This option of performing simple VM management tasks such as restart, refresh, and view on Azure VMs through VMM consoles gives Fabric administrators the flexibility to manage both on-premises and Azure public cloud VMs from within a single VMM management console.

Improved workload support

SCVMM has made significant investments in workload creation and management by enabling support for Generation 2 VMs. VMM users can now deploy and manage Generation 2 VMs through VM roles and services.

For services, scenarios that are unblocked by the update rollup include the deployment of multi-tier services with the ability to choose VM generation for individual tiers. Users can maintain these service instances through conventional as well as image-based servicing.

Additionally, users can deploy Generation 2 VMs through the WAP interface by using VMRoles.

Click here for a more detailed view of Generation 2 VM capabilities.


Microsoft listens to you

System Center Virtual Machine Manager has its own VMM UserVoice site to handle feedback about VMM whether it’s an observed issue or a request for a new feature. However, Team SCVMM still tracks the items in Windows Azure Pack UserVoice as well. Please leverage these sites to vote for your favorite items or propose new ones. And don’t be surprised if we ask you to join in a cohort to address one of these items.

Manish Jha | Program Manager | Microsoft

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