System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Beginners (Part 4)

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

In the previous article in this series, we deployed System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager onto a Windows Server. Now that the deployment process is complete, I want to take the opportunity to give you a tour of the management console.

One of the nice things about System Center Virtual Machine Manager, is that Microsoft doesn’t force you to guess as to how to open the management console (unlike some of Microsoft’s other tools). When the installation process completes, you will find a Virtual Machine Manager Console icon on the Windows desktop, as shown in Figure A.

When you double click on this icon, you are taken to a sign in screen, which you can also see in Figure A. This screen prompts you for the name of the Virtual Machine Manager server that you want to log into and your authentication credentials.

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Figure A: You will see this screen when you open the Virtual Machine Manager Console.

If you look at the figure above, you will notice that the server name is set to localhost:8100. The Server Name field was populated automatically because I am logging into the console locally on a server that is running Virtual Machine Manager. If I were connecting to a remote Virtual Machine Manager server, I would obviously specify the server name instead of localhost. Incidentally, 8100 is the port number that is being used for the connection to the server.

The other thing that I wanted to point out about Figure A is that you have the choice of either entering a set of credentials, or using the credentials from your current Windows session. If you happen to be logged into Windows as a domain admin then you can use your Windows session identity. Otherwise, you will need to enter a more appropriate set of credentials prior to connecting to System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

What Went Wrong

When you attempt to connect to a Virtual Machine Manager Server, you may receive an error like the one that is shown in Figure B. This error states that Virtual Machine Manager is unable to connect to the VMM management server.

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Figure B: It is common to receive an error message stating that the management console is unable to connect to the management server.

This is actually a very common error message, and most of the time it is easy to fix the problem. For whatever reason, one of the dependency services doesn’t like to start when the server is booted. You can fix the problem by opening the Service Control Manager (by entering SERVICES.MSC at the server’s Run prompt) and starting the System Center Virtual Machine Manager service, as shown in Figure C.

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Figure C: You may need to manually start the System Center Virtual Machine Manager service.

Once the System Center Virtual Machine Manager service is running, you should be able to log into the Virtual Machine Manager Console. You can see what the Virtual Machine Manager Console looks like in Figure D. At first glance, the console can be a bit overwhelming because there is a lot to take in. Even so, the console’s layout makes a lot of sense once you start getting used to it.

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Figure D: This is what the Virtual Machine Manager Console looks like.

As you look at the screen capture above, you will notice that the console is divided into a few different sections. The first section that I want to show you is in the bottom, left portion of the screen. In this area you will notice a series of tabs (the Fabric tab is currently selected). Most of the Microsoft documentation seems to refer to these tabs as workspaces. Therefore, if you are following a procedure on TechNet, you may see an instruction that says something like “Click on the Fabric workspace”, which means that you should click on the Fabric tab.

Your workspace selection controls the contents of the console tree that appears along the left side of the console. If you look at the very top of the console tree in the figure above, you will notice the word Fabric. This indicates that the Fabric workspace is currently selected and that the options within the console tree apply to the fabric.

You will also notice the ribbon along the top of the screen. The ribbon concept should be familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013, although there are actually a number of different Microsoft products that use the ribbon concept. The ribbon items that are displayed are a direct reflection of the workspace that you currently have selected. For example, in the figure above you will notice an Add Resources icon (it’s the icon with the big green plus sign). When you click on this icon, you are presented with a list of fabric resources that you can add.

So with that said, I think that it makes sense to take a moment and give you a brief description of the workspaces that are available. As you can see in the figure above, there are a total of five workspaces. These include:

  • VMs and Services – The VMs and Services workspace has some overlap with the Fabric workspace (see below). The VMs and Services workspace allows you to create things like private clouds, virtual machine networks, and even tenants.
  • Fabric – The fabric workspace is arguably the most important of the Virtual Machine Manager workspaces. This workspace allows you to create private or hybrid clouds that are based around a “fabric” of resources such as physical hosts, physical storage, and networking components.
  • Library – The Library workspace is designed to store resources that are reusable. For example, you can store virtual machine templates in the library. These templates can be used to generate new virtual machines.
  • Jobs – The jobs workspace is primarily a monitoring tool. Many of the tasks that you will perform in System Center Virtual Machine Manager are classified as jobs. The Jobs workspace is the place where you can go to check on the status of a job. For instance, if you create a new virtual machine then you can go to the Jobs workspace to check the status of the virtual machine creation job.
  • Settings – The Settings workspace contains all of the Virtual Machine Manager configuration settings. All of the settings found within the other workspaces are related to virtual machines, virtual networks, private clouds, and other infrastructure components. Only the Settings workspace contains settings that are specific to Virtual Machine Manager.

Conclusion

Hopefully by now you have a basic understanding of the way that the Virtual Machine Manager console is arranged, even if you do not necessarily understand what all of the options are or what they do. In the next article in this series, we will start performing some simple tasks within the Virtual Machine Manager console. We will start out by creating a host group and adding some Hyper-V servers to it. We will then take a look at some techniques for creating and managing virtual machines and for managing your Hyper-V hosts.

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

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