Eric's Technical Outlet

Learning the hard way so you don't have to

Service Pack 1 For System Center Virtual Machine Manager

To me, SCVMM has always been the weakest point of a Hyper-V deployment. It doesn’t completely eliminate the need to use the free Hyper-V Manager and Failover Cluster Manager tools, a lot of the windows are poorly designed, and it just feels like it always runs with the brakes on. That’s been somewhat passable since VMWare’s vCenter isn’t any better. It’s past time that one company or the other step it up and produce a hypervisor console that at least looks like it wasn’t an afterthought. SP1 for SCVMM is not even close to such an attempt. The only reasons for you to upgrade will be to gain SCVMM support for Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX in Hyper-V R2 SP1. If you aren’t running that version of Hyper-V, if you aren’t using either of those two technologies, or if you’re OK accessing them in Hyper-V Manager, then there is absolutely no reason to go through the hassle of the upgrade.

Obtaining and Installing the Service Pack

I completely missed that SP1 had gone RTM. It wasn’t in any announcements that I received, nor do I recall reading about it in any download notifications or TechNet messages. I accessed the TechNet site for something completely unrelated, and there was a message about the evaluation version being available. I searched around for how to upgrade my non-evaluation edition, which led me to another TechNet article that included a link – right back to the download page for the evaluation edition.

To make a long story short, there is no stand-alone SP1 installer. To upgrade, access your account at the Microsoft Licensing Service Center and download the entire SCVMM with Service Pack 1 ISO. This hassle does not go a long way toward making anyone feel better about SCVMM.

The documentation I read on the way to finding SP1 indicated that rolling back SP1 is not possible; only a restore or uninstall of SP1 and reinstall of RTM will do. I simply took a snapshot of the VM that I have SCVMM installed on.

Upgrading your installation of SCVMM is pretty much a new install. Mount the ISO and run SETUP.EXE from the root. It will pop up the larger install window with the same options that RTM had. As before, you can install an analyzer that check your machine for its ability to run SCVMM. This generates a local web page with any errors or warnings that might preclude you from using the SCVMM components you asked it to perform compatibility checks for. Interestingly, it will provide a warning with a link to a KB article with a list of hotfixes and patches you should have in place before installing this version of SCVMM – which makes me wonder why I bothered running an “automated” scanning tool in the first place.

Clicking the “VMM Server” link to install the server component initiates an actual upgrade process that is very painless. I had mixed results with the “VMM Administrator Console” link, however. On my SCVMM server, it forced me to uninstall RTM and then click it again to install it with SP1. On my management station, it identified that I had RTM installed and upgraded it. My organization is not using the Self-Service Center so I have nothing to report on that.

Before upgrading my management station, I attempted to access the SCVMM SP1 server with an SCVMM RTM console, and it worked just fine with no prompts. This means you can delay upgrading the consoles if you need or desire to.

First Impressions

I haven’t had a lot of time with SP1 yet, so I’ll quickly run down what I’ve noticed right away.

  • The console opens much faster.
  • The dialogs still need work, at least on Windows 7 SP1 64-bit. In fact, it doesn’t look like they touched the UI any more than they absolutely had to. For instance, on the “Status” tab on the “Host Properties” dialog, the list box that holds the individual status items just stops about halfway through the first letter of the second column:
  • SCVMM now supports Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX. Like Hyper-V Manager, the VM must be shut down to alter these settings (no doubt a Hyper-V limitation).
  • Hyper-V hosts do not require an update to the agent.
  • The “Reserved IOPS” bug from RTM is still present. If you access the Host Properties dialog box and go to the “Reserves” tab and make the “Maximum disk I/O per second (IOPS)” too large (somewhere above 10,000 although I don’t recall exactly where), then when you try to use LiveMigration, you’ll get a message that says: “The projected disk I/O utilization (IOPS) [[some number]] exceeds the maximum disk I/O utilization (IOPS) of [[some negative number]]. This was a known bug in RTM and it’s a little bit of a shame that it wasn’t even addressed in SP1. Of course, the only functional purpose of having a number that high in that field is to suppress messages about high IOPS, so this isn’t a big deal.

The more I look, the more it appears that the only changes were to add Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX support. The good news is that, with so little work done to the application, it’s unlikely to cause any problems in your environment. My biggest issue was that I had to down the VM it was installed on to merge the snapshot disk.

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