New storage and networking features in SCVMM 2012

In the previous blogposting on SCVMM 2012 I wrote about the new features on loadbalancing virtual machines, powermanagement and automated deployment of bare metal servers to fully operational Hyper-V hosts part of a cluster.
In this posting I will focus on the new features of SCVMM 2012 regarding networking and storage.

The release of SCVMM 2012 will be the second half of 2011.

 SCVMM 2012 will have two main roles. It wil have a Service Management or Software based role which is focussed on the virtual machines and the applications running on the virtual machines. Things like lifecycle, self service, delegation and quota and capacity are handled  here. I will create a seperate blogposting on these functions  in the following days.

This blogposting will focus on the second role of SCVMM 2012 being the Fabric Management. Fabric is the infrastructure or hardware used in the virtual infrastructure. That is servers, network and storage layer. Lots of new techniques and functions will be added in SCVMM 2012.

Firstly the userinterface of SCVMM will have the the ribbon interface already known from Office 2010.

SCVMM 2012 is able to communicate with the storage array using SMI-S providers. SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) is a standard management interface developed by SNIA to ease the management burden in multi-vendor SAN environments. SCVMM 2012 understands the storage layer all from the virtual machine hard disk file, to the VHD file, to the CSV volume and to the LUN at the storage array level. Because of this SCVMM is able to provision LUN’s at the cluster level and allocate storage to Hyper-V clusters all automatically.

In SCVMM 2008 VDS hardware providers are used for storage integration. VDS will still be available in SCVMM 2012 but this will be the last release to support VDS.

SMI-S provides a common management interface for network components, decreasing the complexity of SAN management.

 SCVMM 2012 will offer a new abstraction layer for networking. In private cloud computing persons creating the virtual machine are not IT-pro’s but can be endusers, developers or application owners.They are not aware of VLANid’s or IP-subnets. They just know a virtual machine needs network connectivity to for example the production network, to the backup network or the TestDev network. When virtual machines are provisioned from a self service portal the non IT-pro can easily choose the correct network using the logical network name.

The SCVMM administrator creates the logical network and assigns an IP-subnet and VLANid to it.  The IP-address of the virtual machines created in SCVMM is obtained from an IP-pool defined inside SCVMM 2012. This function can be compared to a DHCP server. In the IP-pool the IP-addresses of DNS servers and WINS can be assigned as well as the DNS suffix. Similar to the configuration of a DHCP-server.

I am curious how this will work out with current Microsoft and non-Microsoft DHCP-servers used for assigning addresses to physical servers in the network or other DHCP-enabled devices. Enterprises often use some sort of centralized IP-management tooling for all of their devices not being perse a Microsoft DHCP-server. Using SCVMM 2012 to assign IP-addresses to virtual machines could easily lead to double IP-addresses if procedures are not followed.

An IP-pool can have three kind of IP-adresses:
-a static IP address which is assigned to VM’s
-a reserved IP address for IP addresses that do not need to be assigned by SCVMM
-A VIP address or Virtual IP address. This address can be assigned by SCVMM 2012 to certain hardware loadbalancers.

Suppose a three tier application is used, consisting of a multiple webservers, a frontend server and a database backend server. The VIP address can be used to dynamically connect to one of the webservers running as a virtual machine behind the load balancer. The IP-pool supports both IPv4 and IPv6.

When a virtual machine is created, an IP address is checked out of the IP pool. As soon as the virtual machine is deleted the IP address is checked into the IP-pool.

For MAC addresses there is a pool as well. In SCVMM 2008 there was a global pool of MAC addresses. In SCVMM 2012 a pool can be associated  per host group. When a VM is created a MAC-address is checked out of the pool. When a VM is deleted the MAC-address is checked in.

A newly created virtual machine can be reached via a VIP address which is assigned to a certain loadbalancer by SCVMM.  For VIP addresses there will be a new template called the VIP-template. Settings on the loadbalancer like Protocol, Load balance method persistence are configured in the template and communicated via Powershell providers to supported loadbalancers like Citrix Netscaler and F5 BigIP. When the VM is created the VIP is checked out, at deletion of a VM the VIP is checked in again.

SCVMM 2012 provides rapid provisioning. When a new VM is created using template, the VHD files do not need to be copied over the network but are copied by the SAN from a template. Most other copy actions are SAN to SAN as well and no data is copied over the network.  When a template is ‘SAN Copy’ capable, at creation of a virtual machine using a template, there will be no network copy.

Regarding support of ESX and vCenter there is a change in template usage. At SCVMM 2008 the VMDK of the template was copied during provisioning of a VM over the network which is a slow process. In SCVMM 2012 the template in vCenter Server located in the datastore is used to create a VM.

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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