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System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 Beta Now Available

Microsoft released the latest beta version of its virtualized server management system, especially notable for its support of "live migration."

Microsoft on Friday released the latest beta version of its virtualized server management system. The new System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 R2 beta is especially notable for supporting "live migration," a key virtualization feature not supported in the earlier SCVMM 2008 product.

Live migration lets users move virtual machines (VMs) from one machine to another within a virtual host cluster with little or no downtime, according to Microsoft's Virtual Machine Management blog. The main restrictions are that the "host processors must be from the same manufacturer" and all hosts "must have access to shared storage," the blog explained. Live migration was a notable feature of Windows Server 2008 R2, which was released as a beta in January.

The SCVMM 2008 R2 beta also includes improved support for clustered shared volumes. Previously, SCVMM 2008 supported just one logical unit number (LUN) per VM, which can cause confusion when moving VMs. This restriction is lifted in the SCVMM 2008 R2 beta, according to Rakesh Malhotra, Microsoft's group program manager for SCVMM.

"With CSV (Clustered Shared Volumes) in Windows 2008 R2, a single LUN is accessible by all hosts within a cluster," Malhotra wrote in his blog. "This enables a VM that's on a shared LUN to be migrated without affecting other VMs on that LUN."

The beta also features storage area network (SAN) improvements. You can now migrate SANs into and out of clustered hosts, which allows VM migration between those hosts. You can also add or remove virtual hard disks running on a VM without downtime, according to Microsoft.

Two new network speed-up technologies are supported in the beta. Virtual Machine Queue is designed to improve network throughput, and TCP Chimney helps reduce CPU burdens by offloading TCP/IP traffic, according to Microsoft.

The beta also has a new "maintenance mode" feature that lets users change hardware or Hyper-V configurations without worrying about the VMs that are running.

"This [maintenance mode feature] migrates all the virtual machines off the computer (if it is in a cluster, otherwise it places the virtual machines into a saved state) and ensures that no new virtual machines are started on the system until you take it out of maintenance mode," explained Ben Armstrong, Microsoft's program manager for the core virtualization team, in his blog.

The beta of SCVMM 2008 R2 can be accessed here by Microsoft Connect subscribers with a Windows Live account. Signing up requires completing a short survey before downloading the beta.

SCVMM 2008 R2 beta currently provides management support for VMware ESX, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 and Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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