Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 adds a slew of features… and some challenges

Although System Center 2012 has been out for less than six months, Microsoft is working quickly on the first service pack for the product.  When SC2012 was release earlier this year, it was missing support for many of the new products that Microsoft recently moved to RTM status, including Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and Hyper-V 3.

Although the upcoming release is just a service pack, for VMM users, there are a number of important changes coming… some that might be frustrating.

Significant highlights

  • Windows Server 2012 is the only operating system on which VMM 2012 SP1 can be installed.  This may change by RTM, but if it doesn’t, that will mean that anyone that’s already deployed VMM 2012 will need to perform a brand new install of VMM 2012 SP1 since the VMM 2012 RTM does not support installation to Windows Server 2012.  This could be a frustration.
  • Microsoft no longer supports the use of SQL Server Express as the database platform for VMM 2012 SP1.
  • Although it was present in the original release, for SP1, Microsoft has removed the VMM self-service portal.  Microsoft instead recommends that those needing self-service instead deploy App Controller as the self-service portal solution.
  • VMM 2012 SP1 removes support for the following kinds of hosts
    • Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2
    • VMware ESX 3.0 or ESXi 3.0
  • In SP1, support for the new VHDX virtual hard disk format is supported.  You are able to convert VHD files to VHDX files, too.
  • Support for Windows Server 2012 SMB 3-based file shares as a target location for virtual machines
  • Three Live Migration options
    • Live
      • Supported between individual hosts or between host clusters.
      • Only the virtual machine state is transferred to the destination server.
      • Storage must be accessible to both current host and destination server.
      • This is useful when you want to move a virtual machine to a new host but leave its files where they currently reside.
    • Live (VSM)
      • Both the virtual machine state and the virtual machine storage are migrated from one host to another host or from one host cluster to another host cluster.
      • Shared storage is not required.
    • Live Storage
      • Only the virtual machine storage is moved to a new location.
      • This is useful when you want to move a virtual machines files to a new storage array, but want to keep the virtual machine running on its current host.
  • Support for SMI-S CIM-XML and SMP (Dell EqualLogic) storage providers.
  • Support for console add-ins that extend the functionality of VMM 2012 SP1.

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