Managing large-scale Hyper-V deployments at scale can be difficult with the default Hyper-V tools. Let's see how to manage Hyper-V 2019 with System Center Virtual Machine Manager, which greatly eases management of your Hyper-V infrastructure.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee has been in the IT industry 15+ years and focuses on networking and virtualization. He contributes to the community through various blog posts and technical documentation primarily at Virtualizationhowto.com.

Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor has many different tools that allow you to manage the underlying Hyper-V hosts as well as Hyper-V clusters. This includes Hyper-V Manager and Failover Cluster Manager. You can use either of these tools to manage Hyper-V hosts quite well in small and medium environments that have only a few Hyper-V hosts and/or Hyper-V clusters.

However, if you want to manage Hyper-V hosts or clusters at scale in extremely large environments, there is a Microsoft tool you want to become familiar with – System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). This is still Microsoft's premier tool for managing Hyper-V environments at scale. At least at this stage, even the new Windows Admin Center does not include all the functionality offered by SCVMM. In this post, we will take a look at managing Hyper-V 2019 with SCVMM.

What is SCVMM? ^

In SCVMM, Virtual Machine Manager is a component of the parent System Center. SCVMM can be likened to the vCenter Server of Hyper-V. It unlocks many different management features that can be performed at scale that are very difficult or cumbersome to do with the standard Hyper-V Manager and Failover Cluster Manager tools.

Like VMware's vCenter Server, SCVMM is a pay-for product that is licensed under the umbrella of System Center. SCVMM allows you to manage numerous standalone Hyper-V hosts and clusters and configure your Hyper-V objects all in a single-pane-of-glass management console.

You can even add your vCenter Server and vSphere environment into your SCVMM environment. The opposite cannot be done in vCenter (adding Hyper-V clusters and managing).

New features in SCVMM 2019 ^

With each new version of SCVMM, Microsoft expands the new Hyper-V management capabilities and increases cloud interaction and functionality, as these continue to proliferate through the enterprise data center.

There are many new features in SCVMM 2019. We will focus briefly on a few of the major enhancements in this release.

  • Rolling upgrades of S2D clusters – Storage Spaces Direct clusters are becoming increasingly popular in Hyper-V environments as software-defined storage is certainly taking off. With this release, SCVMM 2019 supports rolling upgrades of S2D host clusters from Windows Server 2016 to Windows Server 2019.
  • SCVMM 2019 now supports deduplication with ReFS on Windows Server 2019 HCI clusters and SOFS.
  • Configuration of SLB VIPs when deploying multi-tier applications by using the service templates in SCVMM.
  • You can now configure encrypted VM networks inside SCVMM 2019. This is made possible by using the Windows Server network controller. This allows the encryption of traffic between two VMs on the same network and subnet. Encryption of in-flight network traffic ensures the traffic is unreadable to an attacker who might be snooping network traffic.
  • Support for configuring a Layer 3 forwarding gateway using SCVMM. In SCVMM 2019, you can configure an L3 forwarding gateway using the VMM console.
  • You can integrate VM with Azure automation subscription, which enables patching and updating on-premises virtual machines that are managed by SCVMM.
  • Nested virtualization – VMM supports nested virtualization. This allows running a hypervisor inside a hypervisor by running Hyper-V inside Hyper-V.
  • Support for Shielded Linux VMs – SCVMM 2019 allows provisioning and configuring shielded Linux VMs.

For a complete, detailed list of SCVMM 2019's new features, take a look at the Microsoft's official post.

Managing Hyper-V 2019 with SCVMM ^

Let's take a look at a few basics of managing Hyper-V 2019 with SCVMM and see how to perform the following basic administration tasks in SCVMM with a Hyper-V cluster:

  1. Adding a Hyper-V 2019 cluster to SCVMM.
  2. Managing your Hyper-V VMs using the SCVMM console and Enhanced mode.
  3. Creating an installation media library easily with SCVMM.
  4. Dynamic optimization for host groups.
  5. Enabling nested virtualization.

Adding a Hyper-V 2019 cluster to SCVMM

Adding a Hyper-V 2019 cluster to SCVMM is very straightforward. After you launch your SCVMM 2019 console, right-click the All Hosts node on the VMs and Services dashboard. Select Add Hyper-V Hosts and Clusters.

Add Hyper V hosts and clusters in SCVMM 2019

Add Hyper V hosts and clusters in SCVMM 2019

This launches the Add Resource Wizard. On the first screen, Resource Location, define where your Hyper-V servers will be located.

Indicate the location of the Hyper V host under Resource Location

Indicate the location of the Hyper V host under Resource Location

On the Credentials screen, provide the credentials required for SCVMM to make a connection to the Hyper-V servers. I am just manually entering the credentials here, but you can also define a Run As account to reuse credentials you may need.

Specify credentials for the discovery of the Hyper V hosts

Specify credentials for the discovery of the Hyper V hosts

On the Discover Scope page, enter the names of the Hyper-V hosts. SCVMM is smart enough to know whether the Hyper-V hosts are part of a cluster, as you will see on the next screen, so you don't have to enter the cluster name as well.

Specify the computer names under the discovery scope

Specify the computer names under the discovery scope

The Target Resource screen displays the cluster name along with the two hosts recognized by SCVMM. Select the top-level cluster name to add all the hosts.

Add the Hyper V hosts and cluster name in SCVMM

Add the Hyper V hosts and cluster name in SCVMM

Choose the host group to which you want to add the Hyper-V hosts. A host group is a logical entity that groups fabric resources together. It can also serve many other purposes. You can group virtual machine hosts, or cluster or create nested host groups.  The host group can serve many purposes.  Here I am adding to the default All hosts top level host group.

Specify the host group in SCVMM for the Hyper V hosts and cluster

Specify the host group in SCVMM for the Hyper V hosts and cluster

On the Summary screen, review the settings and click Finish.

Confirm adding your Hyper V and cluster to SCVMM

Confirm adding your Hyper V and cluster to SCVMM

After clicking the Finish button, you can see the job tasks kick off to add the hosts and cluster.

Viewing the SCVMM add virtual machine host jobs

Viewing the SCVMM add virtual machine host jobs

The SCVMM job task should complete fairly quickly. Afterwards, you will see the new Hyper-V cluster added to SCVMM for management.

The Hyper V cluster is successfully added to SCVMM

The Hyper V cluster is successfully added to SCVMM

Managing your Hyper-V VMs using the SCVMM console and Enhanced mode

Viewing and controlling your Hyper-V VMs via the SCVMM console is a great way to interact with your Hyper-V VMs. Simply right-click one of your VMs in SCVMM and select Connect or View > Connect via Console.

Connect to your Hyper V VMs via the SCVMM console

Connect to your Hyper V VMs via the SCVMM console

After connecting to your VM via the SCVMM console, you can easily manage and interact with the VM environment. For VMs in which the Integration Tools are running, there is an enhanced mode that allows much easier copy/paste functionality.

View a Hyper V VM via the SCVMM console

View a Hyper V VM via the SCVMM console

Creating an installation media library

When installing and loading Windows in Hyper-V using SCVMM, having an installation media library is a great way to enable and maintain access to your Windows installation media. Let's see how to create a new library share to upload installation media.

First, create a new share on your SCVMM server. Next, under the Library node, right-click your SCVMM server and select Add Library Shares.

Add a new library share

Add a new library share

Below, I have created a new Windows share called ISOs. When you launch the wizard, it will recognize any new shares that are found. Select the share you want to use as a library share.

Select the share to use as an SCVMM library share

Select the share to use as an SCVMM library share

Click Next. Then click the Add Library Shares button to finish adding the new share as a Library Share.

Finish adding a new library share in SCVMM

Finish adding a new library share in SCVMM

Now, simply copy ISOs into the new share you created, using a simple SMB file copy to have them available as ISO images for installing VMs.

After copying ISO to the new SCVMM Library share

After copying ISO to the new SCVMM Library share

Dynamic optimization for host groups

Dynamic optimization automatically balances the virtual machines and virtual hard disks within a host cluster. You can configure settings for the aggressiveness of the process and automatically migrate virtual machines to balance the load of the cluster.

Enable Dynamic Optimization for a host group in SCVMM

Enable Dynamic Optimization for a host group in SCVMM

Enabling nested virtualization

Nested virtualization allows you to install a Hyper-V VM inside Hyper-V, which is extremely beneficial in testing and other lab scenarios. SCVMM makes the process of enabling this feature really easy. Right-click a VM under VMs and Services and select Properties. Select the Enable nested virtualization option.

Enable nested virtualization on a VM with SCVMM

Enable nested virtualization on a VM with SCVMM

Wrapping up ^

Managing Hyper-V hosts and clusters using SCVMM is a very convenient and powerful way to manage Hyper-V environments at scale. Managing Hyper-V 2019 along with SCVMM 2019 enables taking advantage of all the new Hyper-V and cloud features that are built into both platforms. The single pane of glass provided by SCVMM enables managing your entire Hyper-V landscape and even enables adding VMware vCenter Server so you can also manage your vSphere environments. SCVMM is a pay-for product, however, and does require a license for use. If you want to manage Hyper-V 2019 at scale efficiently, SCVMM is well worth the cost.

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