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How solution providers can profit from SCVMM 2008 R2 upgrades

If your customers already have Hyper-V R2 in their environments, pushing them toward SCVMM 2008 R2 is the next step. Find out SCVMM 2008 R2's key selling points in this Q&A.

Without SCVMM 2008 R2, many solution providers' Hyper-V R2 customers will be unable to take advantage of features such as live migration. Understand the key SCVMM 2008 R2 selling points for unsure customers by reading this Q&A with SearchSystemsChannel.com's Pat Ouellette and Hyper-V expert Greg Shields.

It's important for solution providers to have a strong understanding of SCVMM 2008 R2's requirements and whether customer environments meet them. Learn the SCVMM 2008 R2 system prerequisites, including amount of RAM and which SQL server database edition is needed for implementing an upgrade in a customer's system.

It's also crucial to know that SCVMM 2008 R2 won't appeal to a solution provider's entire customer base. See how SCVMM 2008 R2 compares to other virtualization management tool offerings and learn why it is gaining traction in the small-to-medium sized business (SMB) market.

Pat Ouellette: Why should solution providers' customers upgrade to SCVMM 2008 R2?

Greg Shields: There's a bunch of benefits that you get with the move to R2. SCVMM 2008 R2 supports all the new features of Hyper-V R2, so if you're running Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V's new features, you're going to want those reflected inside SCVMM 2008. Things like live migration, cluster shared volumes (CSVs) and hot add/remove storage are going to be reflected in this management tool.

Ouellette: Can you name some specific SCVMM 2008 R2 features that would appeal to solution providers?

Shields: If you're a solution provider, your job is to support the needs of your clients and those clients are going to be out there trying to keep virtualization up and running. As I said, SCVMM 2008 R2 supports a lot of those Hyper-V R2 features and the way you can provide value to those clients is helping them understand installation and management. Even in SCVMM 2008 R2, some of the management can be a little idiosyncratic. There are still a couple of interesting ways that you have to go about managing certain things. Some activities, for example, have to be done inside the VMM console. Other activities, for example those related to your Windows cluster, may be done in your Windows clustering console. Helping your customers figure out where different activities make sense to be done and some of the way that you can go about best using the tool with Hyper-V is where you can provide the most value.

Ouellette: When installing SCVMM 2008 R2, what requirements should solution providers know about?

Shields: These are going to be your typical requirements. Microsoft recommends you use dual processors, 2 GB of RAM for five to10 hosts and 40GB of hard disk space. It is also recommended that you have 4 GB of RAM and 50 GB of hard disk space for up to 10 to20 hosts.

The big deal is going to be your database. There are a number of different SQL server instances that are required for the database that VMM uses. You can use whichever one you need. For example, at the low end you can use SQL server 2008 express edition (SSX). SSX doesn't support some of the reporting features inside VMM but it is free, so it doesn't cost you anything and works well with smaller environments. If you get a larger environment or an existing SQL server 2008 or 2005 instance, you can use really any edition of SQL server 2005 or 2008. Determine which version you use by which database is available and what the size of the environment is going to be.

One thing that's also important is that version 2.0 was recently released for the self-service portal. The self-service portal is what users would use after you create templates in SCVMM 2008 R2, then you can make those available to users and make them check them out. But, that portal does require Internet Authentication Service (IAS) and some of the other subcomponents of IAS, as well PowerShell and the .NET framework if you're running on Windows Server 2003. A lot of environments will probably not use the self-service portal because they don't have a separation of duties between the administrators and the people who would be creating virtual machines, but if you are, you should pay special attention to those requirements.

Ouellette: Are there any key selling points that solution providers can use for SCVMM 2008 R2 upgrades?

Shields: The key value proposition for SCVMM 2008 R2 is that you can use it to manage all of your Hyper-V machines from one single location. The most important thing about SCVMM 2008 R2 is having this single pane of glass underneath where your Hyper-V servers can be located. If you already have SCVMM 2008, you almost have to move to SCVMM 2008 R2 because all of the things you want out of Hyper-V R2 are now exposed in SCVMM 2008 R2. The value is if you want to use those new Hyper-V R2 capabilities, you're going to have to upgrade from SCVMM 2008 to SCVMM 2008 R2 to support the things that you have in Hyper-V R2.

Other than that, there are some additional capabilities out there, such as some new things you can do with iSCSI storage area networks, better optimized network features, quick storage migration and better queuing of live migration. But these are relatively minor compared to being able to support Hyper-V's new capabilities.

Ouellette: Is there a time where a SCVMM 2008 R2 upgrade would be inappropriate for a customer?

Shields: I can't honestly think of a reason why. Most people that have Hyper-V environments really want live migration. This is the most recognizable thing that you get by moving from Hyper-V R1 to R2. If you're on R1, you're going to want to move to R2 and do those things inside SCVMM 2008. So, I can't think of a reason you wouldn't want to do that upgrade.

Ouellette: How does SCVMM 2008 R2 compare to Citrix and VMware offerings?

Shields: One of the things that Microsoft has done a pretty decent job of lately is really focusing in on this idea of simplified virtualization. If you have a low-complexity environment or a small-to-medium sized business (SMB) you don't really need a lot of the powerful features and functionalities that you have with some of the other tools out there and nor do you want to pay the costs for them. With a tool like SCVMM 2008 R2, you can really implement virtualization today very easily. It's very simple to use and you're up and running with virtualization. You're not going to get some of those wide-scale enterprise features that you get with the competition's products, but if you're looking for simple virtualization that you can turn on and it just works, that's what you get out of Hyper-V and VMM.

About the author
Greg Shields, MVP, vExpert, is a partner with Concentrated Technology. Get more of Greg's tips and tricks at www.concentratedtech.com.

This was last published in November 2010

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