Deep Dive into SCVMM 2012 R2 Host Groups, Networking and Storage (Part 1)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

System Center Virtual Machine Manager, sometimes referred to as Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), is one of the complex products from Microsoft. Microsoft designed SCVMM product in such a way that it becomes easy for organizations to model the physical environment. The idea behind developing SCVMM product is to help virtual administrators to manage virtualization hosts running in your production environment and provide options to model your physical IT environment and network connectivity. In this article series, we are going to learn how SCVMM can help you manage virtualization hosts from different vendors, model physical networking connectivity, and manage storage. In the first part of this article series, we are going to learn why it is necessary to create a Host Group in VMM.

VMM Host Groups

The first obvious question is why you would need a VMM Host Group. It is important to note that before you can manage the virtualization hosts located in datacenters, you would need to add the virtualization hosts in VMM. The Host Groups can be used to group virtualization hosts based on the physical site location. For example, you have hundreds of virtualization hosts running in the IT datacenters around the world. Without a central management console, it would be difficult to manage all aspects of the virtualization infrastructure. For example, you might want to manage the virtualization hosts located in the Dallas datacenter as well as virtualization hosts located in the Seattle datacenter. In a heterogeneous environment, where there are virtualization hosts running from the different vendors such as vSphere and Citrix XenServer, you will need to use a different set of tools to manage these virtualization hosts. For example, if you need to deploy a virtual machine on one of the Hyper-V hosts located in Dallas datacenter, you will need to use Hyper-V Manager. In case you need to deploy another virtual machine on an XenServer virtualization host operating in the same datacenter, you would require to use XenServer specific tools. VMM eliminates the need for using different sets of tools to manage virtualization hosts from different vendors. Using System Center Virtual Machine Manager, you can manage Hyper-V, ESXi hosts, and Citrix XenServers virtualization hosts. But before you can manage these virtualization hosts, you would need to create Host Groups. To manage both the datacenters, you will create two Host Groups in VMM; one Host Group for Dallas datacenter and another one for Seattle datacenter. VMM also allows you to create child Host Groups in case you want to manage virtualization hosts located in each building of a datacenter.

Once the Host Groups are created, you can plan to add the virtualization hosts. All you need to do is to right click on the Host Group and then add the virtualization hosts as shown in the screenshot below.

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Figure 1

By default, VMM provides a default Host Group called “All Hosts”. “All Hosts” Host Group is the first Host Group in the VMM. You cannot rename and delete this Host Group. It is imperative to understand that a Host Group in VMM is more than just a group. While the basic idea behind making the Host Groups available in VMM is to help you manage virtualization hosts located in datacenters, it also provides a lot of other useful options. A Host Group in VMM serves the following purposes:

  • Helps you group virtualization hosts according to their physical locations.
  • Provides you the ability to model physical IT datacenter into logical units.
  • You can create necessary Host Groups in SCVMM, which, in turn, help you define logical networking for that particular location.
  • Several settings such as storage, networking, host reserve settings, and placement rules can be configured at the Host Group.
  • There are two types of Host Groups that can be created in VMM; parent and child. By default, a child Host Group inherits the settings from the Parent Group. You can always change this behaviour by modifying the property of the child Host Group.
  • VMM supports delegation of Host Groups. You can create delegated Administrators and Read-Only Administrator roles in VMM and assign them to the Host Groups. For example, you can create a user role by name “SeattleAdministrator” and assign this user role to manage only virtualization hosts located in the Seattle location.
  • VMM Host Groups can also be assigned to the Private Clouds. When creating a private cloud, you can select which Host Group can be part of the private cloud.

As you can see in the screenshot below, I created three Host Groups in VMM called Dallas, Seattle and Singapore.

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Figure 2

The Host Groups Dallas, Seattle and Singapore are my datacenter locations where all of my virtualization hosts running. These are my parent host groups. You can also see that I have created Building1 and Building2 child Host Groups underneath the Dallas parent group. This is because I have two buildings in Dallas Datacenter. Building1 has a Hyper-V host named NKAD1 and Building2 is hosting two virtualization hosts named HVNODE1 and HVNODE2. In fact, HVNODE1 and HVNODE2 cluster nodes. You might want to create a child Host Group for several reasons. One of the reasons is that creating a child Host Group provides you the ability to define storage, networking, various host group parameters, dynamic optimization settings, host placement rules, and custom properties for that Host Group.

Summary

In the first of this article series, we learned about the basic need for creating a Host Group in VMM. Concisely, a Host Group is a basic building block before you can manage virtualization hosts and start modelling your physical networking environment into SCVMM. No matter how your physical environment looks like, you have the option to model your physical environment in SCVMM. Since VMM can be used to manage virtualization hosts from different vendors, but these can only be managed by adding them to a VMM Host Group.

In the part II of this article series, we are going to learn about the various options available on the property page of a VMM Host Group.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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