Understanding the Administration of Virtual Guest Sessions

One question that comes up frequently from administrators implementing virtual environments for the first time is how one administers a virtual server. For years, we have just walked up to a server that has a keyboard, mouse, and monitor and worked on “that system.” Having a different mouse, keyboard, and monitor for each system is simple; we know which devices go to which server that is running a specific application. With virtualization, however, guest sessions do not have their own mouse, keyboard, or monitor. So, how do you administer the system?

Many organizations have already been working off of centralized mice, keyboards, and monitors by using switchboxes that allow 4, 8, 16, or more servers to all plug into a single physical mouse, keyboard, and monitor. Simply by pushing a button on the switchbox, or using a command sequence, the administrator “toggles” between the servers. Administration of virtual servers works the exact same way. An administrator utility is loaded, and that utility enables administrators to open multiple virtual server sessions on their screen. Various tools and strategies, including the following, enable you to administer virtual systems:

• Using the Hyper-V Administration tool
• Using the System Center VMM tool
• Using Terminal Services for remote administration

The various administration options provide different levels of support to the management of the virtual guest sessions on Hyper-V.

Management Using the Hyper-V Administration Tool
The built-in Hyper-V Administration tool provides basic functions such as starting and stopping guest images, pausing guest images, forcing a shutdown of guest images, immediately turning off guest images, and the ability to snapshot images for a configuration state at a given time.

In most environments, the administrator would set a guest image to automatically start as soon as the host server itself has been started. That way, if the server is rebooted, the appropriate guest images are also started (but like if a physical server lost power and rebooted when the power came back on).

For images that have been set to be off after the host server reboot, those images can be manually started from the Hyper-V Administration tool. The manual start of images is common for servers that are hosting test images, images used for demonstration purposes, and copies of images that can be manually started when a specific server is required (that is, cold standby server startup).

Management Using the Virtual Machine Manager 2008 Tool
Organizations that want more than just starting and stopping guest images should consider buying and implementing the System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 (VMM) tool. VMM provides basic information about whether a guest image has been started or not, and it provides more information than the built-in Hyper-V Administration tool in terms of how much memory and disk space each image is taking on the host server. The VMM 2008 tool has several wizards and functions that allow an administrator to capture physical server information and bring the server configuration into a virtual image. VMM 2008 can also extract an image from another virtual server and bring that information into a new Hyper-V guest image.

Another feature built in to VMM 2008 is the ability to create a library where template images, ISO application images, snapshot libraries, and the like are stored. With a centralized library, administrators have at their fingertips the images, tools, and resources to build new images, to recover from failed images, and to deploy new images more easily. In addition, VMM 2008 provides delegation and provisioning capabilities so that administrators can issue rights to other users to self-provision and self-manage specific images without depending on the IT department to manage images or manually build out configurations.

Management Using Thin Client Terminal Services
Aside from using the centralized Hyper-V Administration tool to manage guest images, administrators can still use Terminal Services to remotely administer servers on the network, whether that’s physical servers or images running as virtual sessions in a Hyper V environment.

An administrator may choose to gain remote access into the Hyper-V host server, and then control all the guest images on that host server, or the administrator could gain remote access one by one to each of the guest sessions. The latter, which is the ability to individually administer a remote system, is a good solution to provide to an individual who needs access to a single server or a limited number of servers, such as a web administrator or a database administrator.

Source of Information : Sams - Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V Unleashed 08

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