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Up-selling Hyper-V virtualization: Justifying SCVMM 2008 R2

When offering Hyper-V virtualization services to customers, solutions providers should emphasize the importance of using SCVMM 2008 R2 as a Hyper-V virtualization management tool.

In my last article, I discussed how Microsoft's SCVMM 2008 R2 greatly improves the process of assigning user and administrator privileges to Hyper-V virtualization environments.

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But that capability is only one of the many administrative enhancements that System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 R2 provides for solutions providers. Microsoft's Hyper-V is little more than an installable role within Windows Server 2008 R2, which means that all it takes to roll out Hyper-V is an operating system OS installation, followed by a few clicks.

However, the apparent ease in installing Hyper-V belies its significant complexities. Therefore, solutions providers can find many opportunities to offer Hyper-V virtualization services that go beyond installations. Installing a single Hyper-V server might be an easy task, but connecting that server with other servers, enabling high availability and properly managing performance and other virtual machines (VMs) is another situation entirely.

Up-selling SCVMM 2008 R2 to your Hyper-V virtualization customers is an important sales approach. From their perspective, any Hyper-V infrastructure that grows past a single server requires a separate and centralized management infrastructure, like what you get with SCVMM 2008 R2. From your perspective, using SCVMM 2008 R2 with Hyper-V virtualization expands your service offerings while at the same time ensuring a satisfied customer. In the end, customers will appreciate the few extra dollars spent.

Virtualization technologies are swiftly growing to a point where separate toolsets are necessary for management. Separating the part that does the work (the hypervisor) from the part that manages the work (the administrative toolset) creates a unified layer of management support for the entire infrastructure.

SCVMM 2008 R2 and its competing management products are designed to lie on top of all of your customers' Hyper-V virtual hosts. From atop each host, SCVMM can manage every host from one console. It also allows you to manage multiple Hyper-V hosts as one, assigns policies and ensures that each host remains correctly configured. With SCVMM 2008 R2, tasks like managing high availability, networking, VM configurations and performance monitoring are all integrated into one single console. Data within that console can correlate information from all Hyper-V hosts and VMs to provide a better overview of the entire environment.

Heterogeneous virtual environments also benefit from SCVMM's integration with VMware vCenter Server, VMware Inc.'s product for managing ESX hosts and VMs. SCVMM's integration with vCenter Server allows your customers' ESX hosts and VMs to also be administered from the SCVMM console. Common tasks, like starting, stopping and even VMotioning VMs are all viewable within the centralized console. Microsoft provides tools to perform virtual-to-virtual migrations from ESX to Hyper-V -- but not in the opposite direction, ostensibly to assist its customers with migrating off of VMware's platform.

Arguably, the greatest benefit of using SCVMM 2008 R2 to manage Hyper-V virtualization comes from its use of libraries. In SCVMM, a library is a set of administrative data that is viewable within the SCVMM console. That data can source from objects within SCVMM's database, or it can exist as file-based data that is stored on one or more file shares somewhere in your environment. Objects within an SCVMM library are often VM templates, hardware or guest OS profiles, ISO images for CD/DVD media or virtual hard disks that are used as starting points when creating new VMs.

Microsoft designed SCVMM 2008 R2 libraries to consolidate all the data needs of a virtual administrator into a single location. Using data stored within a library, a solutions provider can quickly create new VMs, store OS images for later use, consolidate ISO files into a single location and store pre-configured and pre-approved VMs for users to deploy at will. By using a single and consolidated library, all of these resources remain available to attach to VMs, no matter which host they reside on. VMs that are part of a high-availability Windows failover cluster can always connect to data in the library.

Finally, SCVMM's Jobs node provides a comprehensive logging of administrator and virtual machine actions from a single location. Auditors can review the logs to find out who performed what tasks on certain equipment. And keeping auditors happy is always a primary mission of solutions providers and their customers.

As you can see, SCVMM 2008 R2 provides a valuable up-sell for your Hyper-V virtualization services. SCVMM 2008 R2 benefits you by expanding the scope of your offerings while greatly improving your customers' ability to manage their environment as it scales. In the end, ensuring customer satisfaction is of primary importance, and that satisfaction comes from the knowledge that their virtual environments are being managed by the best software and services available.

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 April 2010

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