Overview of Virtual Machine Manager

Applies To: Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 SP1

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System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 and VMM 2008 R2 provide centralized administration and management of your virtual environment, helps to increase physical server utilization, and enables rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by the VMM administrator and authorized self-service end users.

A VMM implementation is composed of certain core components that must be implemented and a set of optional components and features that you can implement as needed in your environment. This section presents these components and features according to their required and optional classification.

Required Components

Every VMM implementation requires implementation of the following components:

  • VMM server and default library server

  • VMM database

  • VMM Administrator Console

  • Virtual machine host

You can install all required VMM components on a single computer. However, that computer must be properly sized and this configuration should not be used to manage more than 20 hosts. This configuration can also be useful for demonstration purposes. For more information about the system requirements for installing all VMM components on a single computer, see System Requirements: Installing VMM on a Single Computer. If you plan to manage over 20 hosts, it is recommended that you implement a distributed VMM environment, where the VMM server, database, library server, and hosts are all implemented on separate computers.

Virtual Machine Manager Server

The VMM server is the hub of a VMM implementation through which all other VMM components interact and communicate. Therefore you should install the VMM server first.

The VMM server runs the VMM service, which runs commands, transfers files, and controls communications with other VMM components and with all virtual machine hosts and VMM library servers, collectively referred to as managed computers.

The VMM server also connects to a SQL Server database that stores all VMM configuration information. You can access this information and configure VMM by using the VMM Administrator Console or by using the Windows PowerShell - Virtual Machine Manager command shell. For more information about the Windows PowerShell - Virtual Machine Manager command shell, see Scripting.

By default, the VMM server is also the default library server. You can use the VMM library to store file-based resources, such as virtual hard disks (unless attached to a stored virtual machine), templates, ISO images, PowerShell scripts, answer files, and virtual machines. You can set up additional VMM library servers, which is recommended when you will be managing a large number of hosts.

Virtual Machine Library Server

The Virtual Machine Manager library is a catalog of resources that can be used to create and configure virtual machines in VMM.

The library can store the following types of resources:

  • File-based resources such as virtual hard disks, virtual floppy disks, ISO images, and scripts. To be used in Virtual Machine Manager, a file must be added to the library. This requires storing the file on a library server on a designated library share. For more information, see Adding File-Based Resources to the Library. For a list of file types that can be stored in the VMM library, see File Types That Are Indexed During a Library Refresh.

  • Virtual machine templates, hardware profiles, and guest operating system profiles, which are configured in Library view for use in creating standard virtual machines. These configurations are stored in the Virtual Machine Manager database but are not represented by physical configuration files.


    You can store VMware virtual machines, hard disks, floppy disks, and ISO images in the VMM library. Use the Import templates action to import VMware templates into the library after adding a VMware VirtualCenter server. For more information, see How to Import VMware Templates.

  • Virtual machines that are not in use. The virtual machines are displayed in Library view. However, the files for a stored virtual machine are not displayed in the library because the files cannot be used to create or configure new virtual machines.

The VMM server is always the default library server. When you install the VMM server, Setup automatically creates a library share on the VMM server. You can add additional library shares to the default library server.

After the VMM server installed, you can add other computers as library servers, as noted in the “Optional VMM Components and Features” section later in this topic. However, you cannot remove or relocate the default library server or its library share on the VMM server. So give careful consideration to the location of the default library share before installing the VMM server. When you add a computer as a library server, VMM automatically installs a VMM agent on the computer.

Virtual Machine Manager Database

The VMM database stores all VMM configuration information, which you can access and modify by using the VMM Administrator Console. You specify the VMM database when you are installing the VMM server.

The VMM database requires a supported version of Microsoft SQL Server. You can either specify a local or remote instance of an existing Microsoft SQL Server database or have the Setup Wizard install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition SP2 on the VMM server. The Setup Wizard also installs SQL Server 2005 Tools and creates a SQL Server instance named MICROSOFT$VMM$ on the local computer.

If you plan to manage more than 150 hosts or integrate Operations Manager 2007 with VMM to implement Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) tips and reporting, you should use a Standard or Enterprise version of SQL Server. For more information about supported versions of SQL Server, see System Requirements: VMM Database.

Virtual Machine Manager Administrator Console

The VMM Administrator Console is a graphical user interface (GUI) that you use to:

  • Create, deploy, and manage virtual machines.

  • Monitor and manage hosts and library servers.

  • Manage global configuration settings.

You install the VMM Administrator Console after installing the VMM server and then connect it to your VMM server. You can install the VMM Administrator Console on the same computer as the VMM server or on a different computer. You can install the VMM Administrator Console on multiple computers and use it to connect to and manage any VMM server. You can connect to and manage only one VMM server at a time.

When you install a VMM Administrator Console, Setup also installs Windows PowerShell — Virtual Machine Manager command shell, which makes available the cmdlets you can use from the command line to perform all functions that you can perform within the VMM Administrator Console.


If you plan to integrate Operations Manager 2007 with VMM to implement Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) tips and reporting, you must install a VMM Administrator Console on the same computer as the VMM server. When you install the VMM Administrator Console, Setup also installs Windows PowerShell — Virtual Machine Manager command shell. This is required for the System Center Operations Manager 2007 administrator to perform tasks on virtual machines and virtual machine hosts from within the Virtualization Management Pack. You can use Setup to configure Operations Manager 2007 Integration with VMM, for more information see Configuring Operations Manager Integration with VMM.

Virtual Machine Host

A virtual machine host is a physical computer that hosts one or more virtual machines. You can add one or more hosts to VMM by using the Add Hosts Wizard in the VMM Administrator Console. Until you add a host, you cannot use VMM to create virtual machines and many of the actions in the VMM Administrator Console are not available. When you add a Windows Server-based host, VMM automatically installs a VMM agent on the host and, if it is not already installed or enabled, installs or enables the appropriate virtualization software on the host.

VMM supports the following types of hosts:

  • Windows Server–based hosts that are located in an AD domain that does not have a two-way trust with the VMM server’s AD domain.

  • Windows Server–based hosts that are located on a perimeter network.

  • Windows Server–based hosts that are in a disjointed namespace.


    A disjointed namespace occurs when one or more computers have a primary Domain Name System (DNS) suffix does not match the DNS name of the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domain of which the computers are members. For example, a member computer that uses a primary DNS suffix of corp.fabrikam.com in an AD domain that is named na.corp.fabrikam.com is using a disjointed namespace. For more information about disjointed namespaces, see Naming Conventions in Active Directory for Computers, Domains, Sites, and OUs (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=123886).

  • VMware ESX Server hosts located anywhere in your environment.


    Before you can add ESX Server hosts, you must add a VMware VirtualCenter Server to VMM. When you add a VMware VirtualCenter Server to VMM, all existing ESX Server hosts for managed by that VirtualCenter Server are also added imported to VMM. For more information about adding a VMware VirtualCenter Server, see Configuring VMM to Manage a VMware Infrastructure 3 Environment.

Optional VMM Components and Features

An VMM implementation can also include of the following optional components and features:

  • Additional standalone library servers

  • Virtual Machine Self-Service

  • Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO)

Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal

The VMM Self-Service Portal is an optional, Web-based component that a VMM administrator can install and configure to allow users to create and manage their own virtual machines within a controlled environment on a limited group of virtual machine hosts. The VMM administrator creates self-service user roles which determine the scope of the users' actions on their own virtual machines.

To create, operate, and manage virtual machines, self-service users use the Virtual Machine Manager Self-Service Portal. The administrator determines which host groups self-service users can create virtual machines on. When a self-service user creates a virtual machine, the virtual machine is automatically placed on the most suitable host in the host group based on host ratings.

A VMM administrator can set a virtual machine quota in a self-service user role and assign quota points to virtual machine templates to limit the number of virtual machines that a user or group can deploy.

Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO)

Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) supports workload- and application-aware resource optimization within a virtualized environment. Based on performance and health data provided by PRO-enabled management packs in System Center Operations Manager 2007, PRO can automatically or manually implement PRO tips, recommendations for minimizing downtime and accelerating time to resolution. For more information, see About Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO).

See Also


Getting Started