If you have used the Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 platform, there’s a good chance that you find its default web-based management tools to be lacking.  If you’re running one or a few virtualization host servers, the admin tools can certainly get the job done.  But what if you’re deploying dozens or hundreds of VMs every month.  In order to manage these systems, you’ll need to invest in some virtualization-aware software.  Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is one such product.

If you have even heard of the product, you might be wondering about its capabilities, its architecture, and how you can get started with it.  The January, 2008 issue of Microsoft TechNet Magazine includes an article titled Real Control with Virtual Machine Manager 2007.   From the article’s introduction:

System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 is a new solution that provides a consolidated interface for managing your entire virtual infrastructure. Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) can manage existing Microsoft® Virtual Server 2005 installations, and it can also install Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 on new virtual machine (VM) hosts. With VMM, the traditional Virtual Server 2005 administrative tasks can now be performed far more efficiently through a centralized interface, with management access across multiple Virtual Server installations.

In addition, VMM brings new capabilities to Virtual Server, including Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) conversions, Virtual-to-Virtual (V2V) conversion of VMware Virtual Machine Disk Format (VMDK) disks to Virtual Server Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs), and rapid VM deployments from templates and pre-configured VHDs via a centralized library of virtual infrastructure objects.

In the following pages, I’ll explore VMM and the powerful set of features it provides to IT administrators. I will then look at the requirements and steps for creating a VMM installation. Finally, I’ll take a deeper dive into a handful of the more exciting features of VMM and leave you with some helpful tips on getting started.

Microsoft is fairly ambitious with the SCVMM product.  In addition to its current features, future updates will be able to manage VMware and Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology (the new virtualization layer that will be included with Windows Server 2008).  See the article and Microsoft’s site for more details.