SCVMM 2012 private clouds and services

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (SCVMM 2012) is currently in a Community Test Program (CTP) which means the distribution of the software is limited to a select number of persons. Microsoft expects to release the software in the second half of 2011 with a public beta before launch.

This posting in the third in a serie on SCVMM 2012.

Part one is titled New features in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012

Part two is titled New storage and networking features in SCVMM 2012

SCVMM 2012 will have a lot more functionality compared to the current 2008 R2 release. A new concept is private cloud, which enables the consumer of a cloud (the business) to easily provision,  configure and use virtual machines. Another new concept is services: a group of virtual machines which act together to serve an application. Think about a webshop application which has webservers, application server and a database server. Lifecycle (create, update) of such a service is made very easy using new deployment software like Server App-V. These very interesting concepts are discussed in more details below.

The information used in the posting is based on the presentation Microsoft gave during TechEd 2010 in Berlin.

SCVMM 2012 is targeted at private clouds which means the available resources (computer, storage and network) are consumed by one organization. It is not targeted at public cloud with multiple tenants.  

The management  done using SCVMM 2012 can roughly be divided in two levels. One level is the fabric management and the other level is the service management.  

In a private cloud computing environment we see two types of roles. A producing role which is done by the IT-department and a consuming role performed by the business.

Fabric management is the technical configuration of compute resources (deployment and configuration of Hyper-V servers but also VMware and XenServer servers), placement of virtual machines, network (subnet, ip configuration, vlan) and storage configuration (raid sets etc)etc. The producing role in a cloud (the IT-department)  has to make sure everything is nicely connected and it operates as designed according Service Level Agreements.

Private cloud
A private cloud is a new abstraction of the fabric. It hides the technical complexity of compute, storage and network from the consumer. Instead the consumer can easily select a functional network (production, test) and storage based on service levels (silver, gold etc). No need to know what VLAN’s, network interfaces or cluster shared volume to use.

To manage the cloud several concepts are available. These concepts can be used to limit the cloud.  A capability profile defines the shape of VM’s that can be created in the cloud.  For example the person who creates the cloud for the consumer can limit the maximum number of CPU’s of a virtual machine in that cloud to 2.

Another specification which needs to be set when creating a cloud is the capacity of the cloud. This  is a shared limit on dimensions like cpu, memory, storage and number of VM’s in the cloud.

For example a private cloud can be created for use by the marketing and finance department. The capacity of the cloud can be 50 virtual machines.

User roles
Users roles can be used to assign specific actions on specific objects to specific persons. There are three kinds of user roles available in  SCVMM 2012: user roles for fabric management, user roles for cloud management and user roles for cloud consumption.

For fabric management 4 user roles are supported: VMM admin or full admin, storage admin, network admin and read only admin which is for audit purposes. 

For cloud management one user role is available called cloud manager.

For cloud consumption  one role is available  named  self service user. This role can be assigned various actions, like starting, stopping and creating virtual machines or services.

A VMM admin creates a cloud and delegates the cloud to a cloud manager. A cloud manager is for example an IT-manager of a business unit. The cloud manager sub-divides the cloud and assigns it to Self service users.

The self service user creates VM’s and services in the cloud. Quota’s can be used to define limits on a per-user based on compute, storage, memory and number of VM’s. This can be set on the self-service user role.

So in our previous example where a cloud was created for use by both the financial and marketing department, quotas can be used to limit to number of created vm’s for financial department to 20 and limit the maximum number of vm’s to be created by the marketing department to 30.

Also new in SCVMM 2012 is the ability of self service users to share vm’s, templates, profiles and services to other users.

Creation of a private cloud
To create a new cloud in SCVMM 2012 several steps needs to be taken.  The resources needed for consumption can be offered by an existing cloud created earlier in SCVMM 2012 or by a host group (a number of Hyper-V hosts) or by a VMware resource pool. In the CTP version of SCVMM 2012 XenServer resources are not yet available for creating a cloud!

Then the logical networks can be selected which will be available in the cloud. Logical networks can be for example ‘production network’ , ‘dmz network’,  ‘test/dev network’ or a ‘storage network’.

Then the loadbalancers and VIP-templates can be selected. Then the storage specifications can be selected like a high performance storage, silver storage, gold storage etc. The next step is adding the library where the template virtual machines are located. Next step is defining the limits of the cloud. The following dimensions can be set: number of virtual machines, number for virtual CPU’s, custom quota, storage in gigabytes, memory maximum .

New in SCVMM 2012 is the concept of services. A  service is a group of virtual machines working together. Think about a webshop application which often has a webserver, an application server and a database component.  A service is also known as a multi-tier application.

Where SCVMM 2008 was limited to provisioning the virtual machine and configuration of the Windows operating system, SCVMM 2012 adds deployment of applications to it.

Supported application types are: web apps (deployed using MSdeploy) , virtual apps (deployed using Server App-V) and database apps (deployed using SQL Data-Tier Applications or DAC). Also scripts can be run to deploy applications.

Server App-V is a new solution currently developed by Microsoft. It is very similar to the  App-V targets at Windows desktops. Server App-V unties the application logic from the operating system. It will be available in the second half of 2011 before or at the same time SCVMM 2012 will be launched.

To initially deploy a service first a service template needs to be created. The service template consists of one or more virtual machine templates. Each virtual machine template has information about the virtual hardware (number of CPU’s, memory etc), operating system (admin password, timezone etc) and application deployment (Server App-V, MSdeploy etc). 

Once a service is created from a service template, the service is always linked back to the template is was created from. Updates to services must be applied by changing the template first. This can be done to clone the template, rename the cloned template, edit it and deploy it. This allows rapid changes of services, like adding more servers to changing the virtual hardware specifications.  

The service lifecycle management has four steps:

  1. create template
  2. customize deployment
  3. deploy service
  4. update service

A service template can be used to deploy virtual machines on a Hyper-V, XenServer and VMware vSphere hosts. SCVMM 2012 makes  sure the most optimal host is suggested to deploy the VM’s of the service on. This can be manually overruled.

A service template can have for example three tiers: a web tier, an application tier and a data tier. The webtier can have one to three instances, the app tier 1 to 2 and the database 1 instance.

Each tier has three profiles: a hardware profile (how many cpu, memory), a os profile (admin password, time zone etv) and an application profile which is new in SCVMM 2012. This defines the application packages and custom scripts to be deployed on the virtual machine.

A service template can be created very easy using the service designer interface. A template is built using hardware, os and application templates.

The service can be deployed to a host group, VMware resource pool or to a cloud. SCVMM will use intelligent placement to select the right hosts to place the virtual machines used in the service.

SCVMM 2012 will also enable the installation  of roles and features in Windows Server 2008.  

Update services step
First clone the template. Then update the properties of the cloned the template like changing the size of the internal memory of a virtual machine.  Two kinds of updating the service are supported in SCVMM 2012: Regular updating and image based updating.

Regular updating are applied without replacing the OS image. Changes  like increase the memory of the vm or update the version of applications are in the regular updating.

Image based updating replaces an old image with a new image composed of operating system and applications.

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.

One Response to SCVMM 2012 private clouds and services

  1. Pingback: Server virtualization sessions at MMS 2011 – Hyper-V blog by Hans Vredevoort

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