System Center Virtual Machine Manager for Beginners (Part 7)

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

Introduction

In my previous article, I showed you how to manually create and configure a virtual machine using System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager. In this article, I want to turn my attention to the Virtual Machine Manager library.

The System Center Virtual Machine library is designed to allow virtual machines to be created in an automated way and in a consistent way. This can be accomplished through the use of templates and profiles. Since this article series is designed to serve as an introduction to System Center Virtual Machine Manager, I am not going to do a deep discussion of the Virtual Machine Manager library. I do however want to show you some of the more useful templates and profiles.

Before I Begin

Before I get into a discussion of how to use the library, I need to mention a prerequisite requirement. If you think back to the earlier articles in this series, you will recall that System Center Virtual Machine Manager is a multi-tier application that allows the individual application components to be installed on an as needed basis. The Library is one of the Virtual Machine Manager components. The Library must be installed in order to do the things that I am going to show you in this article.

Working with the Library

You can access the Virtual Machine Manager library by clicking on the Library workspace. You can see what the Library workspace looks like in Figure A.

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Figure A: This is the Virtual Machine Manager library.

The first thing that you need to understand about the library is that the Library workspace and the library are not exactly the same thing. The library is actually buried within the console tree. If you look at the figure above, you will notice that the console tree contains a Library Server node, and beneath that node is a listing for the library server that is being used (in this case VMM2012R2.MGMT.com). Beneath the server name is a container named MSSCVMMLibrary. The actual library exists within this container. By default there is an Application Frameworks container and a VHDs container that exist beneath the MSSCVMMLibrary container. There is also a higher level container for Stored Virtual Machines and Services.

As previously mentioned, the Library workspace allows you to create a series of templates and profiles, which can in turn be used to create virtual machines (or other types of objects, such as applications). So with that said, let’s create a VM template.

Creating a VM Template

A VM Template is used to define a virtual machine. You can create a VM template by navigating through the console tree to Templates | VM Templates and then clicking on the Create VM Template button, found on the ribbon. Doing so will cause the Create VM Template Wizard to be launched.

The first thing that the wizard asks is whether you want to use an existing VM template or a virtual hard disk stored in the library, or if you want to create a template from an existing virtual machine that is deployed on the host. You can see what this screen looks like in Figure B.

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Figure B: The wizard asks if you want to use an existing VM template, a virtual hard disk stored in the library, or an existing virtual machine.

At first it might seem as though your only real option is to create a template from an existing virtual machine. However, there is a reason why I showed you the MSSCVMMLibrary earlier. The library contains some built in objects that can be used as a starting point.

In the interest of building a template from scratch, select the Use an Existing VM Template or a Virtual Hard Disk Stored in the Library option, and then click the Browse button. When you do, you will see a list of the virtual hard disks that are stored in the library. As you can see in Figure C, the library contains large and small virtual hard disks in VHD and VHDX formats.

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Figure C: The library contains large and small virtual hard disks in VHD and VHDX formats.

Make your selection and click OK. Click Next and you will be taken to a screen that asks you to establish an identity for the new VM template. Here, you must enter a name for the template and an optional description. This is also where you choose whether the template will be used in the creation of Generation 1 or Generation 2 virtual machines. You can see what this screen looks like in Figure D.

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Figure D: Enter a name and description for the template and choose a virtual machine generation.

The next screen that you will encounter asks you to configure the virtual machine’s hardware. At first glance, this screen looks a lot like the settings that are exposed when you create a virtual machine using the Hyper-V Manager. However, there are two important things that you need to be aware of.

If you look at Figure E, you will notice a Hardware Profile setting. I haven’t really talked about hardware profiles yet, but will be covering them later in the series. A hardware profile is a mechanism for configuring a virtual machine’s hardware allocation. So in other words, you can configure the template’s hardware usage manually on this screen, or you can select a predefined hardware profile. We haven’t created a hardware profile yet, so for right now it’s OK to define the hardware settings manually.

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Figure E: You can link a VM profile to a hardware profile.

The other thing that I wanted to show you is the compatibility section. It allows you to choose the type of host that will be used. You can create the VM to be compatible with Hyper-V, VMware ESX, or Citrix XenServer.

Click Next and you will be taken to the Operating System Configuration screen, shown in Figure F. As you can see in the figure, this screen allows you to enter operating system details such as a product key, time zone, and domain information. As you can see in the figure however, you have the option of using a predefined operating system profile.

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Figure F: You have the option of choosing an operating system profile.

Click Next and you will see a summary of the options that you have chosen. Click Create to create the template.

Conclusion

In this article, I talked a little bit about the purpose of the Virtual Machine Manager library, and I showed you how to go about creating a VM Template. Even though I started out by creating a VM template however, you would most likely want to put some other elements in place (such as OS profiles or hardware profiles) before you start building VM templates. Doing so will save you work in the long run. The reason why I showed you how to create a VM template at this point in the process is because I wanted to give you a preview of how the various components fit together. In the next article in the series, I will continue the discussion by taking a closer look at hardware profiles and OS profiles.

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

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