VMM eases the burden of running both Hyper-V and VMware

If you're planning to run both VMware and Hyper-V, Microsoft's Virtual Machine Manager allows you to do so with mostly all of VMware's features.

Recently, I have heard of a number of organizations that are deploying Microsoft's Hyper-V, even though they already

have VMware in place. Both hypervisors offer a comparable feature set, and there are any number of reasons why an organization might choose to run the two platforms side by side. Of course, managing two separate environments can be burdensome. Thankfully, Microsoft offers a tool that you can use to manage both Hyper-V and VMware through a single pane of glass.

Although Hyper-V includes the Hyper-V Manager console, the console itself is not an enterprise-class tool. It is geared primarily toward managing single Hyper-V servers. Microsoft's solution for managing larger Hyper-V deployments is System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Even though VMM is a tool for managing large-scale Hyper-V deployments, it also offers the ability to manage VMware environments.

It's important to preface that using VMM to manage VMware is a Microsoft-supported approach; not surprisingly, VMware discourages its customers from using VMM. Furthermore, VMware disputes the idea that VMM is truly a single-pane-of-glass interface, because it still requires vCenter. VMware's general stance is that using VMM to manage VMware environments increases complexity, adds overhead, decreases efficiency and frustrates vSphere administrators.

When you combine this with the fact that there are certain VMware features you cannot manage through VMM (such as VMware DRS, host profiles and auto deploy) you can understand why VMM would not be the best management tool for pure VMware environments. However, VMM is still a good option for organizations operating mixed Hyper-V and VMware environments. It will handle the vast majority of the management tasks on both platforms and also facilitate virtual machine (VM) migrations between platforms. Even so, there are a few VMware management tasks to which administrators will have to resort using native VMware management tools.

Establishing the required permissions

The key to making VMM work with VMware is that you must create and properly configure a Run As account, which facilitates communications between VMM and vSphere.

Begin the process by creating an Active Directory account that can be used as a Run As account. Next, open VMM and then go to the Settings workspace and click the Create Run As Account option, which you can find on the toolbar. You will then be prompted to enter the username and password for the Run As account:

  • Enable Active Directory authentication for vSphere and make vSphere aware of your Run As account by logging into the vSphere Web Client as administrator@vsphere.local.
  • Go to the Administration tab and choose the Single Sign On Configuration option. Click on the green plus-sign icon to reveal the Add Identity Source dialog box.
  • Choose the Active Directory (Integrated Windows Authentication) option, specify your domain name and click OK.
  • Go back to the Web console's home screen. Click the vCenter tab and then click vCenter Servers. After choosing a vCenter Server, click on the Manage tab. Then, click on the Permissions category and click the green plus-sign icon.
  • In the Add Permissions dialog box, click on the Add button and then choose your Run As account. Click Add, followed by OK. Be sure to grant the Run As account administrator permissions before clicking OK for the last time.

These steps create an Active Directory account and tell VMM that this account will be used for managing VMware. They also tell VMware that we wanted to assign an existing Active Directory account (the Run As account) administrative privileges. By doing so, VMM will be able to use the Run As account to interact with the vCenter server.

Adding VMware servers to VMM

Now that the necessary permissions are in place, making VMM aware of your VMware environment is easy. First, make VMM aware of your vCenter Server, and then you can go back and add individual hosts and clusters after.

Begin the process by going to the Fabric workspace, right-clicking on the Servers container and choosing the Add VMware vCenter Server option from the shortcut menu. You will then be prompted to enter the name or IP address of your vCenter Server.

Once you have linked your vCenter server to VMM, you can begin making VMM aware of vSphere hosts or clusters. The process is really similar to that of adding a vCenter Server. From within the Fabric workspace, click the Add Resource option (located on the toolbar), and then choose the VMware ESX Hosts and Host Clusters option, which will cause VMM to launch the Add Resource Wizard.

Start by specifying your Run As account, and then select the VMware servers that you want to manage. You will also be prompted to pick a host group to add the servers into. Your choice of host group will depend largely on how your organization is set up and how you plan to manage the VMware servers.

It's relatively easy to make VMM aware of your VMware environment, and after doing so, you can manage your VMware hosts and VMs from within VMM (aside from a few specialized tasks). One thing that is worth noting, however, is that in most cases, the list of VMware VMs within the VMM console does not automatically populate. That being the case, you will need to right-click on the listing for a VMware host and choose the Refresh Virtual Machines option from the shortcut menu in order to retrieve the list of VMs running on that host.

This was first published in February 2014

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