System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 RTM

Well, VMM 2008 is finally here. The folks that have played with this product the most up through now have found it simple to use yet a little buggy in early betas. I imagine those bugs are all fixed up more or less.

If you don’t know what VMM 2008 is, it’s basically the management part of Microsoft’s Hyper-V strategy.  Hyper-V is the base hypervisor (compare with ESX) and VMM is the management layer on top (compare with Virtual Infrastructure).  VMM is better for managing lots of Hyper-V servers than creating your own MMC.

From a storage perspective, we’ve found that a SAN that enables some of the more advanced features of Hyper-V and allows you to get the best bang for your buck.  If you have virtualized and consolidated servers, having a vast amount of storage islands (DAS farms) is the opposite direction you’d want to go.

A SAN gives you a place to centrally store, configure, provision, and manage your storage and get the advanced features (clustering, HA, guest hardware-based snapshots, P2V without moving data, VM migration without moving data).

Table 3 in Jose Bareto’s Blog makes the case for a SAN quite well, I’d argue.

Some quick Hyper-V tips:

  • Dedicate a LUN per VHD to allow for cluster configurations (and predicable performance).
  • Make sure your array can support some type of Quality of Service to maintain LUN performance against other competitive LUNs within the array.
  • Fixed is better than dynamic for controllable performance, but FlexVHD, although unsupported, could be something interesting to look at.
  • iSCSI direct to the guest is typically going to be the best way to configure Hyper-V in the near term.  Bypasses anything that might be blocked when doing passthrough and provides a semi-solid link (iSCSI qualified name) to the storage.  Hyper-V clusters can then failover with no reconfiguration needed.
  • You need to use the Enterprise version of W2k8 x64 in order to properly use Hyper-V and clusters because the Standard version namely does not offer clustering.

Here’s even more Hyper-V best practices from EMC’s Celerra team which includes the use of thin provisioning, LUN expansion, iSCSI vs CIFS considerations, replication, and more.

Hyper-V CIFS Architecture with EMC Celerra

Hyper-V CIFS Architecture with EMC Celerra (click to enlarge)

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