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Microsoft SystemCenter blogsite about virtualization on-premises and Cloud


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Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

This video is about Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is an alternative desktop delivery model that allows users to access desktops running in the datacenter.
Microsoft offers comprehensive and cost effective technology that can help customers deploy virtual desktops in the datacenter. The Microsoft VDI Suites allow customers to manage their physical and virtual desktops from a single console, while providing great flexibility for deploying server-hosted desktops and applications.


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Why virtualize Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and High Level Architecture

This topic is about Microsoft virtualization with Hyper-V R2, System Center Virtual Machine Manager for virtualizing the SharePoint 2010 environment.

Here you see a picture of a High Available full virtualized Sharepoint 2010 environment on a Hyper-V 2008 R2 Cluster with Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) Architecture.

Why Virtualize SharePoint?

Virtualizing SharePoint and its server components can provide many business and technical benefits. With virtualization,
you can consolidate hardware and ease server management and provisioning—helping to promote cost savings, business continuity, and agile management. Moreover, SharePoint virtualization is ideal for organizations that have more than one SharePoint farm, such as those with high availability production, testing, and development environments. The remainder of this section describes additional benefits of SharePoint virtualization in greater detail.

Hardware Consolidation

Hardware consolidation essentially allows you to run different SharePoint servers and various server components sharing the same hardware set. Hardware consolidation yields a variety of benefits:

  • Resource utilization and balancing: With SharePoint virtualization and the built-in enhancements of the Hyper-V 64-bit multiprocessor and multicore technology, you can run multiple workloads on different, isolated virtual machines—helping to use and balance resources more efficiently. Because you manage only a single physical server that runs isolated
    virtual machines, it is easier to provision and balance various resources, such as RAM and disk space, for different SharePoint server components.
  • Reduced costs for physical infrastructure, maintenance, power, and cooling: Server consolidation reduces server count, which, in turn, reduces the cost of SharePoint infrastructure and maintenance.
    Consequently, cooling needs and power consumption are also reduced. From the perspective of environmental sustainability, SharePoint virtualization can be a major contributor to the Green IT movement.
  • Less physical space: By virtualizing SharePoint farms, you can provide required capabilities with fewer servers, thereby
    freeing up space originally allotted for servers.

Ease of Management and Provisioning

Typically, virtualization enables you to run several virtual machines on a single physical server, which can ease the management and provisioning of virtualized SharePoint farms. Microsoft provides tools to help you manage and provision
different SharePoint server components in a virtual environment. Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
2008, part of the System Center Server Management Suite, provides SharePoint administrators with the ability to manage multiple virtual hosts; quickly provision servers and farms that run SharePoint Server; and migrate physical servers to virtual ones.

Testing and Development

Testing and development on a SharePoint infrastructure requires replicated and simulated environments. Because these
environments need low disk I/O and memory, all components of SharePoint Server, including the Microsoft SQL Server® database server, typically can be virtualized. Using System Center VMM, SharePoint administrators can easily manage multiple testing and development SharePoint farms. With System Center VMM, administrators also can easily replicate virtual servers, allowing them to run even at the time of replication with the VMM physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) capabilities; this can help to greatly decrease administrative overhead.

Business Continuity and Availability

To ensure business continuity, servers must be highly available so that working environments always seem transparent, as if no incident has ever occurred. To facilitate high availability in SharePoint virtual environments, Hyper-V uses Network Load
Balancing (NLB), a clustering technology that detects a host failure and automatically distributes the load to active servers. You can use the Hyper-V built-in clustering technology to help provide high availability in your SharePoint virtual farm.

Virtual Architectures for Medium-to-Large Farms

Using larger host servers, you can allocate more resources to virtual images. Figure below shows an implementation that uses
more CPUs and RAM.

To keep this SharePoint environment High Available you make a SQL 2008 R2 Cluster envionment for the Sharepoint databases.

If a particular server component consumes so many resources that it adversely affects the overall performance of the virtual environment, consider dedicating a physical server to it. Depending on an organization’s usage patterns, such a component
may include a crawl server, the server that imports profiles, the Microsoft Excel® Services application, or another
heavily used service

Managing the Virtual SharePoint Environment

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 R2 can help to:

  • Centralize management of physical and virtual IT infrastructure.
  • Increase server utilization.
  • Optimize dynamic resources across multiple virtualization platforms.

VMM offers a management solution that monitors and controls both physical and virtual machines, as shown in Figure below

VMM takes resource utilization a step further with end-to-end support for consolidating physical servers. It can help
you overcome key pain points in the consolidation process, as follows:

  • Provides insight into how workloads perform in the old environment: VMM uses data gathered
    from System Center Operations Manager to assess the workloads that are optimal candidates for consolidation. This holistic insight differentiates VMM from competing products and can give you greater confidence when migrating from a physical to
    virtual infrastructure.
  • Provides more efficient storage management: VMM support for the Windows Server 2008 R2 CSV allows files for multiple virtual machines to be stored on the same LUN. This can simplify storage management by radically reducing the number of LUNs required by the VMM-managed virtual machines.
  • Facilitates P2V conversion: Converting physical machines to virtual machines can be a slow and error-prone process that requires administrators to halt the physical server. However, with VMM, P2V conversions are routine. VMM simplifies P2V conversion tasks by providing an improved P2V wizard and taking advantage of the Volume Shadow Copy Service in Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Virtual machines can be created by using block-level disk access speed without shutting down the source physical server.
  • Provides V2V conversion: VMM also supports the conversion of VMware virtual machines to the Microsoft virtual machine format. With VMM, you can convert virtual machines directly from ESX Server hosts. The VMM V2V conversion can convert either an entire VMware virtual machine or just the disk image file. The V2V conversion process performs all modifications required to make the converted virtual machine bootable. Unlike the P2V conversion, the V2V conversion is an offline operation.
  • Takes the guesswork out of virtual machine placement: VMM can help you easily identify the most appropriate physical host servers for virtualized workloads. This Intelligent Placement technology not only can make administrative tasks easier, but also can help to ensure that data center resources are deployed properly and align with business goals. Intelligent Placement in VMM inputs host system data, workload performance history, and administrator-defined business
    requirements into sophisticated algorithms. The resulting Intelligent Placement ratings provide easy-to-understand ranked results that can take the guesswork out of the placement task and help to ensure that workloads are spread across
    physical resources for optimum performance. Intelligent Placement can be used with Microsoft Windows Server hosts and VMware ESX Servers.
  • Helps to fine-tune virtual and physical infrastructure: After the virtual infrastructure is in place, VMM provides a central console from which you can monitor and fine-tune the infrastructure for ongoing optimization. With the VMM administrator console, you can tune virtual machine settings or migrate virtual machines from one host to another in order to optimize the use of physical resources. VMM also works with System Center Operations Manager so that both physical and virtual infrastructure can be managed comprehensively.

VMM as a Management Tool

The VMM 2008 R2 management console provides rich functionality that can be used to manage SharePoint Server in a virtualized environment. A distributed, virtualized SharePoint farm can be tightly managed, and the management console can
be used to move guest sessions between one or more hosts that also are performing other virtualization tasks. VMM can be a useful management tool in many ways:

  • Self-Service Portal: VMM includes a web-based self-service portal that enables SharePoint administrators to
    delegate the rights to create new guest sessions. This portal can be used by other system administrators to allow developers, for example, to provision their own test SharePoint server sessions or to allow quality assurance (QA) testers to
    provision guest Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office client sessions for testing. Overall, the self-service portal can reduce the SharePoint administration overhead.
  • Virtual Server Templates: With VMM, you can define a library of templates and virtual machines that can be used to
    provision new SharePoint sessions. For example, a Windows Server 2008 R2 server template can be created with the right amount of memory and virtual processors, plus a pair of virtual hard drives for the operating system and index files.
    With SharePoint binaries installed on that system, it then can be turned into a template that can be used to provision new SharePoint farm members or even entirely new farms.
  • VMM Template Options: With VMM template options, a server created from a template can be automatically added to a
    domain and validated with a valid server key; it also can have a script run after first login. For example, a custom Microsoft Windows PowerShell™ script can be run automatically after login to join the SharePoint template server to an existing farm or to create a new farm entirely.


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Microsoft Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 3.0 benefits

This topic is about a Microsoft Virtual Machine Servicing Tool (VMST) for System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

VMST 3.0 helps you more effectively—and safely—manage the workflow of updating you offline virtualization environment. Using VMST 3.0, you can now service:

  • Offline virtual machines in a SCVMM library.
  • Stopped and saved state virtual machines on a host.
  • Virtual machine templates.
  • Offline virtual hard disks in a SCVMM library by injecting update packages.

The Virtual Machine Servicing Tool manages the workflow of updating large numbers of virtual machines according to their individual needs. You can use the tool to automatically update offline virtual machines in a library, stopped virtual machines on a
host, virtual machine templates, and apply updates directly to virtual hard disks (VHDs). The tool is designed to work with Microsoft® System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 or VMM 2008 R2, and with either of the following software update management systems:

  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) 3.0 SP1 or WSUS 3.0 SP2.
  • System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1, Configuration Manager 2007 R2, or Configuration Manager 2007 SP2.

Note   The tool also provides the option to manually copy updates to service offline VHDs. The tool works with Windows Task Scheduler to determine when to run the servicing job.

Servicing Offline Virtual Machines in a VMM Library

This feature provides a workflow to automatically update virtual machines stored offline in a System Center Virtual Machine
Manager (VMM) library. While stored, the virtual machines do not receive software updates. The tool enables you to keep offline virtual machines up-to-date so that when you are ready to bring them online, they cannot introduce vulnerabilities into your organization’s IT infrastructure.

You can keep offline virtual machines in the VMM library up-to-date automatically by scheduling and running servicing jobs on
selected virtual machines, and applying operating system and application packages to virtual machines. The following figure illustrates the workflow to service offline virtual machines in the VMM library.

The tool uses a servicing job to manage the update operations. For each virtual machine, the servicing job for this feature:

  1. “Wakes” the virtual machine from the VMM library by deploying it to a maintenance host and starting it.
  2. Invokes either Configuration Manager or WSUS to update the virtual machine.
  3. Shuts down the updated virtual machine and stores it in the VMM library.

The Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 3.0 is straightforward to use. To use the tool:

  1. Install the tool in your environment. A configuration wizard guides you through the process of connecting the tool to VMM and your software update management system.

  • Configure virtual machines, templates, and virtual hard disks groups. You have the option to group your virtual machines, templates, and virtual hard disks to simplify the process of creating servicing jobs.
  • Create and schedule servicing jobs. A servicing job specifies which virtual machines, templates, and virtual hard disks to update, what resources to use for the update process, and when to start the servicing job. You can schedule jobs to run immediately, or to run during low-traffic maintenance windows. You can also schedule servicing jobs to recur at regular intervals to keep your virtual machines up-to-date in the long term.

You can download VMST 3.0 from the Microsoft download site.


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Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager Snapshots and FAQ

This topic is about System Center Virtual Machine Manager Snapshots.

What are virtual machine snapshots?

Virtual machine snapshots capture the state, data, and hardware configuration of a running virtual machine.

What are snapshots used for?

Snapshots provide a fast and easy way to revert the virtual machine to a previous state. For this reason, virtual machine snapshots are intended mainly for use in development and test environments. Having an easy way to revert a virtual machine can be
very useful if you need to recreate a specific state or condition so that you can troubleshoot a problem. There are certain
circumstances in which it may make sense to use snapshots in a production environment. For example, you can use snapshots to provide a way to revert a potentially risky operation in a production environment, such as applying an update to the software running in the virtual machine.

How are snapshots stored?

Snapshot data files are stored as .avhd files. Taking multiple snapshots can quickly consume storage space. In the first release version of Hyper-V (KB950050) and Hyper-V in Windows Server Service Pack 2, snapshot, snapshot data files usually are
located in the same folder as the virtual machine by default. In Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2, the files usually are located in the same folder as the virtual hard disk. The following exceptions affect the location of the snapshot data files: If the virtual machine was imported with snapshots, they are stored in their own folder. If the virtual machine has no snapshots and you configure the virtual machine snapshot setting, all snapshots you take afterwards will be stored in the folder you specify.

  Caution
Do not delete .avhd files directly from the storage location. Instead, use Hyper-V Manager to select   the virtual machine, and then delete the snapshots from the snapshot tree. Do not expand a virtual hard disk when it is used in a virtual machine that has snapshots. Doing so will make the snapshots unusable.

What other important considerations should I be aware of when using snapshots?

Keep the following considerations in mind, especially if you plan to use snapshots on a virtual machine in a production environment:

  • The presence of a virtual machine snapshot reduces the disk performance of the virtual machine.
  • When you delete a snapshot, the .avhd files that store the snapshot data remain in the storage location until the virtual machine is shut down, turned off, or put into a saved state. As a result, when you delete a snapshot, you will need to put the production virtual machine into one of those states at some point to be able to complete the safe removal of the snapshot.
  • We do not recommend using snapshots on virtual machines that provide time-sensitive services, or when performance or the availability of storage space is critical.

Should snapshots be used as a substitute for backups?

No, because virtual machine snapshots are not the same as backups created by a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer. We do not recommend using virtual machine snapshots as a permanent data or system recovery solution. Even though virtual
machine snapshots provide a convenient way to store different points of system state, data, and configuration, there are some inherent risks of unintended data loss if they are not managed appropriately. A backup solution helps provide protection that is not provided by snapshots. One reason that are not an acceptable substitute for a backup is that they do not protect against problems that may occur on the server running Hyper-V, such as a hardware malfunction on the physical computer or a software-related issue in the management operating system. Another reason is that applications that run in a virtual machine are not aware of the snapshot, and will not be able to adjust appropriately. For example, if you used a virtual machine snapshot to restore an Exchange server, the server would expect the same set of client connections that were present when the snapshot was taken. For more
information about backing up Hyper-V and its virtual machines see :

Planning for Backup (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=143125).

Protecting Hyper-V with Microsoft DPM 2010

 

 Important
Microsoft does not support the use of snapshots on virtual machines hosting the Active Directory Domain Services role (also known as “domain controllers”) or virtual machines hosting the Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services role. For more
information, see Planning Considerations for Virtualized Domain Controllers


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Master Your Environment with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 by John Baker

This is a topic of four screencast’s about mastering your environment with System Center Configuration Manager 2007 by Microsoft employee John Baker.

This four-part series introduces you to System Center Configuration Manager 2007.

As more clients and servers are added to your environment, the task of managing these resources becomes much more complex. Knowing the range of available hardware and software, while keeping the machines current with the latest applications and patch updates can become onerous. But don’t despair ­– there’s a solution to this problem. System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (SCCM 2007) is the ideal way to comprehensively assess, deploy, and update your servers, clients, and devices – across physical, virtual, distributed, and mobile environments. Not only can you take control of your infrastructure, but you can also leverage SCCM 2007’s integration with Network Access Protection (NAP) to quickly and easily remediate machines throughout the organization that don’t meet the network policy requirements. You’ll see how simple this remediation process can be, regardless of whether machines are communicating with your network through VPN, hardwired, or wireless connections.

Part 1 of 4: The Administrator Console

Part 2 of 4: Site Server Roles

Part 3 of 4: Operating System Deployment and Software Update Management

Part 4 of 4: Desired Configuration Manager and Network Access Protection