System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Beginners (Part 5)

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


So far in this article series, we have deployed System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and I have shown you the basic layout of the management console. At the end of the previous article, I mentioned that in this article I would show you some basic techniques for creating and managing virtual machines. I still plan to do that, but before I get started, there is something that I need to clarify.

The thing that I need to clarify is that you can (and should) use Virtual Machine Manager to manage your virtual machines. However, it would be short sighted to assume that basic virtual machine management is the only thing that Virtual Machine Manager can be used for. Virtual Machine Manager is really more about managing your virtualization architecture than managing individual virtual machines (although it can do both). For example, virtual machine manager can arrange hosts into logical groupings (which I will talk about in a minute), and it can be used to construct and manage libraries of virtual machine templates, and even entire clouds.

Host Groups

When it comes to managing Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines, one of the first concepts that you need to understand is that of host groups. As the name implies, a host group is really nothing more than just a logical collection of hosts. At first, host groups might seem unnecessary, but remember that Virtual Machine Manager is specifically designed to provide large scale management capabilities. A large organization might have hundreds, or even thousands of hosts. In those types of situations it is helpful to have some sort of organizational structure for all those hosts.

Host groups may also have their place, even in smaller organizations. Consider my situation for example. I am a freelance technology writer and I work out of my home. Even though I am a one man shop, I have at least three different categories of host servers. I have a small, production environment that consists of two Hyper-V hosts. I have a lab environment that contains four Hyper-V hosts, and I also have a VMware based lab environment with a few hosts. Incidentally, System Center Virtual Machine Manager can manage VMware environments, although there are some limitations to doing so.

Adding Host Servers

So let’s take a look at how you would go about adding Hyper-V hosts to Virtual Machine Manager, and then we will create some host groups. Begin the process by opening the Virtual Machine Manager console and then selecting the VMs and Services workspace. If you look at Figure A, you will notice that the All Hosts container is selected within the console tree. All Hosts is actually a host group.

Figure A: Host servers are displayed through the VMs and Services workspace.

As you look at the figure above, you will also notice that right now a single host is listed beneath the All Hosts group. This host (Lab4) is a Hyper-V host in my lab environment. I manually added this host, but the other hosts have not yet been added.

To add a host server, right click on All Hosts. When you do, you will see a shortcut menu that provides a number of different options for adding hosts, as shown in Figure B. For instance, you can add Hyper-V hosts, Citrix hosts, and of course, VMware hosts. You will also notice that we have the option of adding host clusters. I am not going to get into host clusters in this article, because I have a separate article series on failover clustering for Hyper-V.

Figure B: You can add Citrix, VMware, and Hyper-V hosts.

For right now, let’s go ahead and add some Hyper-V hosts. To do so, select the Add Hyper-V Hosts and Clusters option from the shortcut menu. When you do, Windows will display the Add Resource Wizard. In most cases, you will probably be adding Hyper-V hosts that reside in a trusted Active Directory domain. Therefore, when you see the wizard’s first screen, choose the option to add Windows Server computers in a trusted Active Directory domain.

The next screen asks you to provide a Run As account. A Run As account is an account that has permission to perform the operation.

Click Next and you will be asked to specify the computers that you want to add. You can either enter the computer names manually, as I have done in Figure C, or you can perform an Active Directory query.

Figure C: You can manually enter the names of the hosts that you want to add.

Click Next and there will be a brief wait while Virtual Machine Manager verifies the accuracy of the information that you have entered. Once this check completes, you will see a list of the hosts that you can add to the host group. Now, simply select the check boxes that correspond to the hosts that you want to add, and click Next.

Before I move on, I want to point out that it might not always be possible to add every host. If you look at Figure D, you will notice that the servers named Lab1, Lab2, and Lab3 do not have check boxes next to them. The reason for this is because these Hyper-V hosts belong to a cluster. You will notice that the wizard displays an object named This is the cluster to which Lab1, Lab2, and Lab3 belong. I didn’t tell Virtual Machine Manager that I wanted to add the cluster, but it displayed the cluster anyway because I specified the individual nodes within the cluster.

Figure D: Some hosts cannot be individually added to a host group.

With that said, select the hosts that you want to add and click Next. You will now see a screen asking you to verify your settings. Take a moment to make sure that everything is correct and click Next, followed by Finish. The hosts will be added to the host group.

Creating a Host Group

As previously mentioned, you can create host groups to meet your management needs. To do so, simply click on the Create Host Group icon, found on the ribbon within the VMs and Services workspace. You will now be prompted to enter a name for the new host group. Any host groups that you create will appear directly beneath All Hosts, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E: New host groups appear beneath All Hosts.

As you look at the figure above, you will notice that the server Lab4 is still listed individually beneath All Hosts. If this were a production VMM server, I would probably want to move Lab4 to the Lab host group that I created. This can easily be accomplished through a simple drag and drop operation. After doing so, the host appears beneath its designated host group, as shown in Figure F. Incidentally, the host group views are collapsible.

Figure F: Lab4 now appears beneath the Lab host group.


In this article, I have shown you how to add hosts and organize them into host groups. In the next article in this series, I will begin showing you how to organize and manage your virtual machines.

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

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