Virtualization has become the norm in IT today. According to a report by Spiceworks, more than 92 percent of businesses use server virtualization, followed by storage, application, desktop, data, and network virtualizations. This trend is expected to continue and even see phenomenal growth over the next few years. While this trend is likely to provide a big jump in productivity coupled with a decrease in costs, the real challenge is to manage your virtual environment well, to realize these benefits. And that’s where you need a Virtual Machine Manager (VMM).
What is a Virtual Machine Manager?
A Virtual Machine Manager, or VMM for short, is a program that creates, manages, and governs virtual machines. In other words, it completely manages the operations of a virtual environment through a centralized interface that provides the status, availability, and performance of the VMs.
Also known as a hypervisor, VMM facilitates unified management across different environments, operating systems, servers, storage systems, and applications.
Now that you have an idea of what a Virtual Machine Manager is, let’s take a brief look into its working.
How does a Virtual Machine Manager work?
Before we get started, know that Microsoft’s VMM also supports ESXi and vCenter, so you can manage the entire virtual manager infrastructure through a single console.
Consisting of a server, database, and a library, the VMM catalogs all the virtual machines through a networking and storage fabric to centrally manage them all.
You can control these machines through the VMM console and can make changes to the underlying network or storage fabric at any time.
As an IT admin, you can do a whole lot of things through the console, such as provisioning new VMs, moving VMs from one server to another, modifying network services, increasing resources, and just about anything else to keep the devices online and to ensure they work smoothly.
Microsoft has come with a set of specifications for using its VMM. These are the minimum requirements needed to leverage its functionality.
|Server||16-core 2.66 GHz||16 GB||10 GB|
|Database||16-core 2.66 GHz||16 GB||200 GB|
|Library||4-core 2.8 GHz||4 GB||No limit. Depends on the storage levels|
|Console||2-core 2.0 GHz||4 GB||10 GB|
It supports the following operating systems.
- Windows Server 2016 and later
- Windows 10 Enterprise and later
Benefits of a Virtual Machine Manager
Here are some of the benefits of a Virtual Machine Manager.
One of the biggest advantages of VMM is its support for other virtualization environments as well. This means administrators can use this single console to manage multiple virtualization platforms used in their organization.
It even comes with many unique features, such as support for VMotion to move a virtual computer from one physical host to another and Intelligent Placement for dynamically decide the right physical host.
VMM’s Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) enables the dynamic management of virtual resources, so you can take remedial actions for poor performance or hardware failures right away to ensure the operations are not affected in any way.
Datacenters are estimated to work at around 5 percent to 15 percent of their CPU capacity due to a host of reasons. The Virtual Machine Manager assesses and consolidates workloads, frees up physical resources for repurposing, and handles the space, electrical, and cooling requirements of the datacenters. All these maximize the performance of existing resources, so you can get more value for your investments.
Ask any IT admin, and the biggest hassle will be converting a physical machine to a virtual one. It is a slow, problem-prone, and time-consuming task where you have to stop the working of the physical server during this conversion.
But with VMM, these conversions are a breeze, thanks to the P2V conversion feature. You can convert even VMware virtual machines to VHDs with an intuitive wizard for a quick and hassle-free virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion.
In today’s virtual environment, IT admins are expected to quickly provision new servers anywhere within the network infrastructure to service business requirements. A Virtual Machine Manager supports this need as it deploys virtual machines within a fraction of the time needed to deploy physical servers.
Further, you can monitor and manage these machines to meet business requirements.
Intelligent placement feature
VMM’s intelligent placement feature makes a thorough analysis and recommends which physical server should host the given workload. This intelligent placement of the virtual workload reduces performance issues and, at the same time, enhances the efficiency and usability of the existing resources.
Large virtual environments get unwieldy quickly, and before long, tracking deployment and performance become a nightmare!
To navigate through deployments and to stave away from this mess, VMM has a centralized library where various components of virtual machines are stored easily. Its structured format makes it easy to identify and reuse components and enhance productivity and responsiveness to issues.
Ease of use
Virtual Machine Managers are built on the command line and Windows PowerShell, making it easy to add scripts and commands to customize or automate operations.
Thus, these are some of the reasons for the growing popularity of the Virtual Machine Manager.
Downsides of a Virtual Machine Manager
Knowing the downsides is equally important to evaluate the usefulness of a tool, and here’s a look at the disadvantages of the Virtual Machine Manager.
It’s not easy to deploy a VMM, so you need the right technical knowledge and skills to get started.
A ton of issues can come up while setting up a VMM, including installation failures and problems. Understanding the underlying issues and fixing them is the key to a successful setup.
Stay on top of the security aspect because the centralized nature and repository make it an easy target for cyberattacks.
This means you’ll have to beef up the security around VMMs without impacting their robustness, which could be a big challenge. Some possible security solutions such as encryption, network security tools, UEFI secure boot, and more can come in handy to secure your VMM.
Another major downside is the initial setup costs. Further, not all systems and applications are conducive for virtualization, especially if the vendor has not made provisions for it.
The workaround here is to choose virtualization-friendly applications and vendors.
In all, a Virtual Machine Manager can be handy when you have to manage a growing virtualization environment, provided the underlying systems and applications are conducive for it, and you’re able to use the right security strategies to prevent a possible cyberattack.
Given the expected growth rate of virtual machines and the benefits that come from it, a VMM is something you’ll have to plan for sooner or later. While implementing, be aware of the benefits and downsides, so you can make appropriate choices.
Have you implemented a Virtual Machine Manager in your system? Can you share the best practices with our readers in the comments section?
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