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What's New in VMM in System Center 2012 SP1

Updated: October 22, 2014

Applies To: System Center 2012 SP1 - Virtual Machine Manager

Here are some general changes in VMM in the System Center 2012 SP1 release that you might need to consider:

  • The VMM Self-Service Portal is no longer supported in System Center 2012 SP1. Instead, we recommend that you use System Center 2012 SP1 - App Controller as the self-service portal solution. For more information about App Controller, see App Controller.

  • Self-service users can now use the VMM console instead of the VMM Self-Service Portal to perform tasks such as deploying virtual machines and services.

  • High availability with N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is no longer supported. VMM is compatible with virtual Fibre Channels that are configured for virtual machines in Hyper-V.

  • The OVF tool is no longer supported. Instead, to import and export an OVF package to Hyper-V, you can use the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC), which converts the VMDK/VHD file. For more information, see Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0.

The following tables summarize VMM enhancements and other changes in the System Center 2012 SP1 release.


Deploying VMM For more information

Enhancements to the matrix of supported versions of operating systems and other required software.

For a complete list of supported and required configurations, see System Requirements: VMM 2012 and VMM 2012 SP1.

Integration with Windows Server 2012 which delivers numerous enhancements to the Microsoft Hyper-V features, as follows:

  • Large virtual machines

  • Clusters that can support a larger numbers of nodes

  • Storage management through SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative – Specification)

See the Supported Storage Arrays section in Configuring Storage Overview.

Ability to manage vSphere 5.1 and Citrix XenServer 6.0 .

For more information about Citrix, see Managing Citrix XenServer Overview. For more information about vSphere see How to Add VMware ESX Hosts to VMM and How to Configure Network Settings on a VMware ESX Host in VMM.


Configuring Fabric Resources in VMM - Networks For more information

New model for virtual machine networking, including network virtualization and virtual local area networks (VLANs) for network isolation.

Network Virtualization

How to Create a VM Network in VMM in System Center 2012 SP1

Management of the Hyper-V extensible switch, including deployment and configuration of virtual switch extensions using a new logical switch concept.

How to Add a Virtual Switch Extension Manager in System Center 2012 SP1

Support for network virtualization that includes support for using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to assign customer addresses using Network Virtualization with Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE) to virtualize the IP address of a virtual machine.

Network Virtualization

Software-defined networking with support for Hyper-V network virtualization and switch extension management. This allows a constant network configuration in the datacenter.

Configuring VM Networks and Gateways in VMM

Configuring Ports and Switches for VM Networks in VMM

How to Add a Virtual Switch Extension Manager in System Center 2012 SP1

Introduction of a logical switch that allows you to manage individual switch instances across multiple Hyper-V hosts as a single entity.

How to Create a Logical Switch in VMM

Ability to deploy and manage third-party switch extensions, such as Cisco 1KV and InMon. For organizations that have investments in these third-party products, these can be integrated into VMM.

How to Create a Logical Switch in VMM


Configuring Fabric Resources in VMM - Storage For more information

Support for file shares that leverage the new 3.0 version of the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol that is introduced in Windows Server 2012. VMM in this release includes support for designating network file shares on Windows Server 2012 computers as the storage location for virtual machine files, such as configuration, virtual hard disk (.vhd/.vhdx) files and checkpoints.

SMB 3.0 file shares provide the following benefits when they are used with VMM in this release:

  • Hyper-V over SMB supports file servers and storage with improved efficiency compared to traditional storage area networks (SANs).

  • If you use SMB 3.0 file shares as the storage locations for virtual machine files, you can "live migrate" virtual machines that are running between two standalone Hyper-V hosts or between two stand-alone Hyper-V host clusters. Because the storage location is a shared location that is available from the source and destination hosts, only the virtual machine state must transfer between hosts.

You can create SMB 3.0 file shares on standalone Windows Server 2012 file servers and on clustered Windows Server 2012 file servers. If you use a standalone file server, you can designate an SMB 3.0 file share as the virtual machine storage location on a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host cluster. However, this is not a highly available solution.

For more information about SMB 3.0 in Windows Server 2012, see Server Message Block Overview.

For more information about how to create a highly available SMB 3.0 file share, see Scale-Out File Server for Application Data Overview, and steps 1 and 2 of the Deploy Scale-Out File Server scenario that is linked to from that topic.

The new Windows Standards-Based Storage Management service replaces the Microsoft Storage Management Service in System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager. The new service uses the Windows Storage Management application programming interface (API), a WMI-based programming interface that is included in Windows Server 2012. This new API enables you to discover storage by using multiple provider types.

The Windows Storage Management API supersedes the Virtual Disk Service (VDS) interface. Therefore, if you are using a storage array that uses only the VDS hardware provider (and not SMI-S), storage area network (SAN) transfer capabilities will no longer be available. A SAN transfer enables you to migrate a virtual machine from one location to another when the virtual hard disk is located on a storage array. The logical unit number (LUN) that contains the virtual machine is remapped from the source computer to the destination computer instead of transferring the files over the network.

In this release, VMM supports the following types of storage providers and arrays:

  • SMI-S CIM–XML, which existed in System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager. For more information about the supported storage arrays, see the Supported Storage Arrays section of Configuring Storage Overview.

  • Symmetric multiprocessing (SMP)

    Supported array: Dell EqualLogic PS Series using iSCSI.

Configuring Storage Overview

Support for auto (dynamic) iSCSI target systems, such as the Dell EqualLogic PS Series. System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager supports only static iSCSI target systems.


Support for thin provisioning of logical units through VMM. Your storage array must support thin provisioning. And thin provisioning must be enabled for a storage pool by your storage administrator.


Integration with third-party SANs and file-based storage on Windows Server 2012 File server.



Configuring Fabric Resources in VMM - Hyper-V For more information

Support for using a virtual hard disk that is in the .vhdx format as the base operating system image.

How to Discover Physical Computers and Deploy as Hyper-V Hosts in VMM

Operating system deployment that utilizes deep discovery and Consistent Device Naming (CDN). CDN allows VMM to predictably assign network interface controllers (NICs) to the correct networks and teams.

During the discovery process, you can run deep discovery to see more detailed information about the physical computer hardware before you deploy the operating system. In this release, deep discovery functionality is only partially enabled. You can view the physical network adapter information, information about the CPU, and the amount of memory. You can configure network options such as logical switches, and you can change the settings for the network adapter that VMM automatically designates as the management network adapter.

How to Discover Physical Computers and Deploy as Hyper-V Hosts in VMM

How to Create a Host or a Physical Computer Profile to Provision a Hyper-V Host in VMM

Support for physical network adapter configuration as follows:

  • IP configuration

  • Logical switch creation

  • NIC Teaming

Support for Host vNIC configuration.

Support for startup disk selection as part of operating system deployment.

Enhanced default auto disk selection logic as part of operating system deployment.


Virtual Machines and Services For more information

Support for deployment of services to virtual machines in a domain or workgroup that does not have a trust relationship with the domain of the VMM management server.

Preparing to Create Services in VMM

In Hyper-V only, support for the deployment of services to virtual machines that are not connected, where the service instance does not have network connectivity to the VMM management server, to a VMM library server, or to both.

Preparing to Create Services in VMM

When deploying a virtual machine as part of a service and creating a SQL Server profile, added support for SQL Server 2012 as an instance of Microsoft SQL Server.

How to Create a SQL Server Profile in a Service Deployment

Application profiles:

  • For the deployment of application packages, added support for updated versions of the following applications:

    • Web Deploy 3.0

    • Data-tier Application Framework (DAC Fx) 3.0

    • Server App-V SP1

  • Support for application profiles that run multiple scripts before and after installing an application on a virtual machine, and if a script fails, the capability to rerun if specified to do so in the profile.

  • Support for deploying MSDeploy packages to existing Internet Information Services (IIS) servers, whether they are virtual or physical, managed by VMM or not (Web Application Host).

How to Create an Application Profile in a Service Deployment

Support for adding Windows Server 2012 roles and features when creating and deploying services, such as the Windows Server Update Services role.

Support for IIS application hosts, which allow you to deploy websites into pre-existing IIS web farms.

How to Apply Updates to a Deployed Service in VMM

Support for the new version of the virtual hard disk format that is introduced in Windows Server 2012. This new format is referred to as VHDX. Compared to the older VHD format, VHDX has a much larger storage capacity of up to 64 TB. The VHDX format also provides data corruption protection during power failures. Additionally, it offers improved alignment of the virtual hard disk format to perform well on large-sector physical disks.

Support for VHDX includes the following:

  • You can convert a virtual hard disk for a virtual machine that is deployed to a Windows Server 2012-based host from the .vhd to .vhdx virtual hard disk format. The conversion includes any associated checkpoints.

  • If you create a new virtual machine with a blank virtual hard disk, VMM determines whether the format should be .vhd or .vhdx, depending on the operating system of the host that is selected during placement. If it is a Windows Server 2012–based host, VMM uses the .vhdx format. If it is a Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1–based host, VMM uses the .vhd format.

  • If you provision a physical computer as a Hyper-V host, you can specify a .vhdx file as the image for the base operating system.

  • You can use VMM to "rapidly provision" any virtual machines that use VHDX-based virtual hard disks from SAN-copy capable templates.

  • A VMM library server that runs Windows Server 2012 automatically indexes .vhdx files.

  • In addition to the small and large blank .vhd files that were available in previous versions of VMM, the VMM library in System Center 2012 SP1 also contains both a small (16 gigabytes (GB)) and a large (60 GB) blank .vhdx files.

For more information about the benefits of the VHDX format in Windows Server 2012, see Hyper-V Virtual Hard Disk Format Overview.

Rapid Provisioning of Virtual Machines Using SAN Copy Overview

Support for provisioning a physical computer as a Hyper-V host. When you provision a physical computer as a Hyper-V host, you can use a Windows Server 2012-based virtual hard disk that is in the .vhdx or .vhd format as the base operating system image.

For background information about adding a physical computer as a Hyper-V host, see Adding Physical Computers as Hyper-V Hosts Overview.

Linux-based virtual machines are now fully supported with the following:

  • Added settings for Linux-specific operating system specialization when you are creating a Linux-based virtual machine template.

    These settings are supported only when the Linux virtual machine is deployed on Hyper-V.

  • Ability to include a Linux virtual machine template in a service template that deploys a multi-tier application or service.

  • Updated Windows PowerShell cmdlets to support this new functionality.

How to Create a Virtual Machine Template

Requirements for Linux-Based Virtual Machines

Ability to configure availability options for virtual machines on Hyper-V host clusters by using the VMM console, without having to open Failover Cluster Manager.

Configuring Availability Options for Virtual Machines Overview


Live Migration For more information

Live migration outside a cluster. This is in addition to supporting live migration within a cluster. Live migration outside a cluster allows you to perform live migration between two standalone computers that are not cluster nodes.

For more information about live migration in Windows Server 2012, see the following topics:

Live migration between nodes in two different clusters. You can migrate between nodes within a cluster, or between nodes in different clusters.

Migrating Virtual Machines and Storage Overview

How to Run a Live Migration in VMM

Storage migration, which allows for the migration of virtual machine storage. You can migrate storage in order to update the physical storage available in Hyper-V, or to mitigate bottlenecks in storage performance. Storage can be added to either a standalone computer or a Hyper-V cluster. Then, virtual machines can be moved to the new storage while they continue to run.

Migrating Virtual Machines and Storage Overview

How to Run a Live Migration in VMM

Live VSM. By using live virtual system migration (VSM) you can migrate both virtual machines and storage in a single action.

Migrating Virtual Machines and Storage Overview

How to Run a Live Migration in VMM

Concurrent live migration. You can perform multiple concurrent live migrations of virtual machines and storage. The allowable number of concurrent live migrations can be configured manually. Attempted concurrent live migrations in excess of the limit will be queued.

Migrating Virtual Machines and Storage Overview

How to Run a Live Migration in VMM


VMM Console For more information

Integration of third-party user interface (UI) add-ins for the VMM console that can extend the functionality of the console. For example, you can create console add-ins that will allow you to do the following:

  • Add ribbon entries in the VMM console to launch web browsers and Windows applications directly from the ribbon.

  • Enable new actions or additional configuration for VMM objects by writing an application that uses context that is passed regarding the selected VMM objects.

  • Embed custom Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) UI or web portals directly into the VMM console’s main views to provide a more fully integrated experience.

Virtual Machine Manager Add-in SDK on MSDN.

Several significant performance enhancements to the VMM console. Load times are decreased and the performance of sorting and filtering views is significantly improved. For viewing job history, jobs are now loaded incrementally and the views have a richer set of data-filtering options, reducing the effect of large sets of jobs on console performance.

Overview pages in the VMM console now display various reports about usage and capacity metrics for services, tenants and clouds.


Additional Improvements For more information

Performance and scalability:

  • Increased the scale of a VMM management server to be able to manage 1000 hosts and 25,000 virtual machines.

    Scale limits remain consistent no matter which supported hypervisors are used. VMM can manage 25,000 virtual machines, wherever they are located.

  • Support for a 64 node cluster.

  • Performance enhancement to the VMM console.

Integration with Operation Manager as follows:

  • Ability to use Operations Manager to view information related to application hosts, load balancers, and user roles while also being able to monitor virtual machines, services, host systems, network adapters, and other elements of the fabric.

  • Receive notifications from Operations Manager if the load on a cloud has exceeded a chosen threshold of fabric capacity. Concurrently review other clouds for available excess capacity that can be reallocated to meet the demand.

  • Generate reports that track the resource usage of each configured service or service user, to aid in capacity planning.

Configuring Operations Manager Integration with VMM

Support for updateable Help for VMM cmdlets.

For more information about how to download the most recent help content for VMM cmdlets, see About_VMM_2012_Updating_Help. Alternatively, you can type the following command in a command shell:

Get-Help about_VMM_2012_Updating_Help

Network Virtualization

VMM in this release provides support for the network virtualization capabilities that are available in Windows Server 2012.

Network virtualization provides the ability to run multiple virtual network infrastructures, potentially with overlapping IP addresses, on the same physical network. With network virtualization, each virtual network infrastructure operates as if it is the only one that is running on the shared network infrastructure. This enables two different business groups that are using VMM to use the same IP addressing scheme without conflict. In addition, network virtualization provides isolation so that only virtual machines on a specific virtual network infrastructure can communicate with each other.

Network virtualization in Windows Server 2012 is designed to remove the constraints of VLAN and hierarchical IP address assignment for virtual machine provisioning. This enables flexibility in virtual machine placement because the virtual machine can keep its IP address regardless of which host it is placed on. Placement is not limited by physical IP subnet hierarchies or VLAN configurations.

To virtualize the network in Windows Server 2012, each virtual machine is assigned two IP addresses as follows:

  • A customer address. This IP address is visible to the virtual machine and is used by customers to communicate with the virtual machine.

  • A provider address. This IP address is used by the Hyper-V computer that hosts the virtual machine. It is not visible to the virtual machine.

In this release, you can virtualize the IP address of a virtual machine by using Network Virtualization with Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE). In NVGRE, all of the virtual machines packets are encapsulated with a new header before they are sent on the physical network. IP encapsulation offers better scalability because all of the virtual machines on a specific host can share the same provider IP address.

VMM creates the necessary IP address mappings for virtual machines to take advantage of the network virtualization capabilities in Windows Server 2012. To assign provider addresses, VMM uses an IP address pool that is associated with a logical network. To assign customer addresses, VMM uses an IP address pool that is associated with a virtual machine subnet that is, in turn, associated with a virtual machine network.

In this release, you can now assign customer addresses through DHCP or by using static IP addresses. When you create an IP address pool for a virtual machine subnet, the pool is automatically enabled to provision IP addresses by either mechanism. For DHCP to work correctly, the new DHCPv4 Server Switch Extension is required on all Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts.

For more information about network virtualization in Windows Server 2012, see Hyper-V Network Virtualization Overview.

See Also

For additional resources, see Information and Support for System Center 2012.

Tip: Use this query to find online documentation in the TechNet Library for System Center 2012. For instructions and examples, see Search the System Center 2012 Documentation Library.
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