Deploying Nano Server Using System Center Virtual Machine Manager (Part 2)
If you would like to read the first part in this article series please go to:
In the previous article in this series, I walked you through the process of preparing a Nano Server image. In this article, I want to show you how to turn that image into a virtual machine template that can be used as a mechanism for automatically deploying additional Nano servers in the future.
The first thing that you need to know about the template creation process, is that Microsoft did not add Nano Server support to System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) until System Center 2016. As such, that is the System Center version that I will be using in this article series.
Before we get started, I also recommend making a backup copy of your Nano Server virtual machine. The template creation process destroys the virtual machine, and if something were to go wrong while building the template, then you could find yourself having to start all over from the very first step. It is much easier to take a few minutes to create a backup, than to have to build a new Nano Server each time that something goes wrong.
OK, so let’s get started. Go ahead and log into your VMM server, and then open the VMM console. Now, go to the Library workspace, right click on the VM Template container, and then choose the Create VM Template command from the resulting shortcut menu. You can see what this looks like in the figure below.
Right click on the VM Templates container and then choose the Create VM Template command from the shortcut menu.
At this point, VMM will launch a wizard that will walk you through the template creation process. The wizard’s initial screen asks whether you want to use an existing VM template or virtual hard disk from the library, or if you would prefer to build the template from an existing virtual machine that is already deployed on a host. Choose the option to create a template from an existing virtual machine, click Browse, and then choose the Nano server that you set up in Part 1 of this article series (I am assuming that you turned the Nano Server into a VM). You can see what this looks like in the figure below.
Choose the VM from which you wish to create the new virtual machine template.
Remember, this process will destroy the VM, so make sure that you have a backup of the VM, and make sure that the correct VM is selected. In fact, when you click Next, Windows will display the rather ominous warning message shown below. Click Yes to continue.
Make sure that you have selected the correct VM, and that the VM has been backed up.
At this point, you will be taken to a screen that prompts you to enter a name and a description for the template that you are creating. Although the description is optional, it is usually a good idea to enter a description explaining the template’s operating system version, configuration, intended use, etc. The screen capture below provides an example of such a description.
Enter a name and a description for the new template.
Click Next, and you will be taken to the wizard’s Configure Hardware screen. This screen controls the hardware allocation for virtual machines that will eventually be created from the template. The screen itself looks a lot like the screen that is used when manually creating a virtual machine. My experience has been that the template inherits the hardware configuration from the virtual machine from which you are basing the template. That being the case, it is a good idea to make sure that your model VM has appropriately configured hardware allocations. As of the time that this article is being written, Microsoft has not released any official system requirements for Nano Server, but you can see the hardware configuration that I am using in the figure below.
Nano Servers have lightweight hardware requirements.
Click Next, and you will be taken to the Configure Operating System screen. Once again, all of the screen’s settings are inherited from the virtual machine that the template is being based on, so you don’t really have to do anything. You can see what this screen looks like in the figure below.
All of this screen’s settings are pre-populated.
Click Next, and you will see a screen asking you to choose a VMM library server for the virtual machine template. Unless you have deployed multiple library servers, there will only be one choice available, as shown in the figure below. Make your selection and click Next.
Select your library server and click Next.
The next step in the process is to enter a share location where the template can be made available for use. The easiest thing to do is to click the Browse button, and then select the pre-existing library share, which you can see in the next image.
Specify the path to the library share.
Click Next, and you will see a summary screen. Oddly, this summary screen doesn’t really provide any useful information (although Microsoft could change that in the future). That being the case, go ahead and click the Create button to create the VM template. When you do, VMM will open the Jobs window and initiate the template creation process. When the process completes, the Jobs window should display a Completed status for the task, as shown below.
The Template has been created.
As you can see, it is relatively easy to create a Nano Server template in VMM 2016. In the next article in this series, I will discuss options for bare metal deployments of Nano Server.