System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (Part 6) – Introduction to the Console – Segment D

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In the previous few articles in this series, we started to investigate all of the options that are available in the System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager console. In this part of the series, we’ll continue our tour. Note that we are currently going through an overview of the product. We’ll move on to common administrative tasks later in this series.

Quick recap

Before we get started, let’s do a quick recap to gain our bearings. In Figure 1, you can see the main window that is seen when you start the VMM 2012 console. We’re working with the Fabric workspace and, in this article we’ll start looking at the items on the Virtual Machines tab. In previous parts of this series, we fully covered the general console as well as the items available in the VMs and Services areas.

Figure 1: The big picture


All of the virtual machines that you intend to manage run on various hardware components. These hardware resources, which include the physical hosts, storage resources and networking components, come together to form the overall fabric of the environment. There are a number of items available for configuration in VMM, so get ready for a lot of options!

In Figure 2, take a look at the screen that is available when the Fabric workspace is selected.

Figure 2: The Fabric workspace is selected

Home tab: Servers

We’ll be looking at a number of different menu bars in this article since there are a number of options in the Fabric space. The first menu is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The Home tab in the Fabric workspace


When you’re working in the Fabric area, you’re manipulating the components that underlie your virtual environment. You can add new resources by clicking the Create button and then choosing the appropriate resource from the shortcut menu shown in Figure 4. Because we’ll see all of these options in action in other areas of this article, we won’t cover them all right here.

Figure 4: The Create option

Add Resources

The items that you add on the Create menu are ones that can be used by VMM, virtual machines and hosts. The items you add using Add Resources are existing resources that need to be made available for use by VMM. For example, if you intend to manage vSphere servers from your VMM installation, you need to add those vSphere hosts as managed resources.

Figure 5: Add Resources to your VMM environment

  • Hyper-V Hosts and Clusters. VMM is designed to manage individual Hyper-V hosts and clusters of Hyper-V hosts. You can add these resources to VMM.
  • Citrix XenServer Hosts and Clusters. Likewise, VMM can manage Citrix XenServer hosts and clusters.
  • VMware ESX Hosts and Clusters. If you want, you can manage individual VMware ESX hosts, too.
  • Library. The library is a catalog of resources—virtual hard disks, templates, and profiles—that are used to deploy virtual machines and services. Microsoft recommends that the server hosting this role have at least a dual core 3.2 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM. There is no formal recommendation on disk space since this varies from installation to installation, but plan on needing quite a bit of space. After all, virtual hard disks and ISO files alone can consume a whole lot of space. Ideally, this information will be placed in a location that can grow with your needs.
  • PXE Server. A PXE server is used to initiate the operating system installation on a physical computer. The PXE server that you choose to add to VMM must be in the same subnet as the physical computers that you want to convert to Hyper-V hosts.
  • Update Server. WSUS has long been a staple in IT shops. Used to manage updates, VMM needs to be able to use WSUS to help administrators maintain update compliance.
  • VMware vCenter Server. If you have vCenter, it’s preferred to add the vCenter server to your VMM system. vCenter has greater insight into the collective vSphere environment than does a single host.
  • Load Balancer. VMM 2012 supports load balancers from three companies—BIG-IP from F5 Networks, Brocade ServerIron ADX from Brocade Communications Systems and Citrix NetScaler from Citrix Systems. When you add load balancers to the VMM environment and creating associated virtual IP (VIP) templates, users who create services can provision load balancers when they create and deploy a service. This reduces the impact on the IT staff since these items can be better automated.
  • Storage Devices. Allows an administrator to add storage devices to VMM. These storage devices can be used for deployment purposes.


When you select a resource in the Fabric area and click the Overview button, you’re, surprisingly enough, provided with an overview regarding the health of that particular resource or resource group. In Figure 6, you can see a little bit of information regarding one of my lab Hyper-V hosts.

Figure 6: Resource overview

Fabric Resources

Displays fabric resources.


If you have added a Windows Server Update Server (WSUS) to the VMM environment, you can use the Compliance option to determine a server’s compliance with WSUS-provided updates.


This option becomes available if you’ve assigned a compliance baseline to a managed computer. As you might expect, it initiates a scan to ensure compliance.


If a machine is not in compliance, use the Remediate button to bring it into compliance.

Compliance Properties

Again, this becomes available only when compliance is enabled. It allows you to see information regarding the compliance state of a machine.

Update Agent

When you update VMM, it’s sometimes necessary to update the VMM agent on managed computers in order to unlock new functionality. Use the Update Agent button to deploy the newly updated agent software to the managed resource.


At times, you may find it necessary to move hosts between different VMM servers. At times like this, use the Reassociate button.

Connect via RDP

Allows you to connect to the server using RDP.


A few years ago, Microsoft released PowerShell and has extended this scripting language to just about all of their new products. PowerShell allows administrators to write scripts that can automate administrative functions. Click the PowerShell icon on the Home tab to open a PowerShell command window.


VMM works by creating jobs that are carried out with the results eventually reported to the administrator. In Figure 7, you can see what happens when you click the Jobs button. It does exactly what it should!

Figure 7: A list of currently running and recently run jobs


If you’ve enabled Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) in VMM 2012, then you’ve successfully connected your VMM implementation with a running System Center 2012 Operations Manager instance to unlock additional capabilities. With earlier versions of VMM and SCOM, PRO was necessary to perform what many would consider basic operations, particularly those that come from VMware. In VMM 2012, when PRO is configured, you’ll see PRO tips that help you do things better.

For PXE servers: Update WinPE Image

You’re able to deploy new Hyper-V servers and virtual machines from bare metal. The WinPE image is used by PXE boot servers in order to allow machines to boot into some kind of environment that can support this deployment. As new operating systems become available, you can use the Update WinPE Image option to update this environment. This is shown in Figures 8 and 9.

Figure 8: The Update WinPE Image button

Figure 9:
The warning you receive for a new image


That was just he first part of our exploration of the fabric resources available in VMM 2012. In Part 7 of this series, we will continue our journey of discovery into VMM 2012.

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