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SCVMM 2016 new features ease virtualized infrastructure management

SCVMM 2016 comes with new and improved features, including zero touch deployment, a new workflow for adding clusters, no downtime upgrades and production checkpoints management.

Over a period of time, we have seen massive improvements to System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Microsoft is focused on making SCVMM more robust by introducing new features and improving existing ones. While there aren't any new significant features that have been added to SCVMM 2016 Technical Preview 5, there are a lot of improvements that have made it a first choice for organizations managing a virtualization infrastructure.

Zero touch deployment

SCVMM 2016 brings new functionality in deploying bare-metal servers and converting them to required server roles. For example, you can deploy bare-metal machines as Nano Servers, standalone Hyper-V servers, Hyper-V clusters and even Scale-Out-File Server (SOFS) clusters. All you need to do is set up the machine with an initial configuration, such as setting up a basic I/O system (BIOS) to support virtualization, setting up BIOS in order to boot from a PXE environment, configuring the logon credentials and setting up a baseboard management controller, including IP addresses. Once you have configured bare-metal machines in SCVMM, SCVMM 2016 will discover and automatically install the OSes and then provision them as a Hyper-V cluster, SOFS role or Nano Server under SCVMM management.

Adding new clusters

When business grows, organizations might need to support processes by implementing new nodes in the existing Hyper-V or SOFS clusters or by implementing a new failover cluster. SCVMM 2016 will bring improvements to the process of introducing bare-metal machines as nodes to failover clusters by automating the complete provisioning process. SCVMM 2016 will allow you to add a bare-metal machine as a node to an existing failover cluster. In previous versions, deploying a Hyper-V cluster from the bare-metal machines required you to provision standalone Hyper-V hosts under SCVMM management, and then you could create a Hyper-V cluster out of these hosts. SCVMM 2016 will have a new workflow that can be used to deploy new Hyper-V and SOFS clusters by using a single-step approach.

No downtime upgrades

SCVMM 2016 will have a new workflow that can be used to deploy new Hyper-V and SOFS clusters by using a single-step approach.

One of the great features of SCVMM 2016 is the ability to process upgrades from previous versions of Hyper-V, storage standalone nodes or clusters to new versions without any downtime. Earlier versions of SCVMM did not support upgrading Hyper-V clusters. In other words, the upgrade process involved a little downtime and manual work before the upgraded Hyper-V clusters could be added back under SCVMM management. SCVMM 2016 will help organizations with a seamless upgrade process in which Hyper-V and storage clusters from Windows Server 2012 R2 will be upgraded to Windows Server 2016 without any downtime. SCVMM will help automate the process that includes evicting the cluster nodes, reinstalling the OSes and adding the nodes back to the cluster. The end result is that you will have new OSes running under SCVMM management. Before the upgrade process can start, however, standalone nodes or clusters must be managed by the SCVMM and the SCVMM library must contain a virtual hard disk configured with the Windows Server 2016 OS.

Managing production checkpoints

Production checkpoints can be used to easily create point-in-time disk images of VMs which you can then later restore. Production checkpoints are supported for both Windows and Linux VMs. VM snapshots were renamed to production checkpoints in Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, but SCVMM 2012 R2 did not have the capability to process production checkpoints of VMs managed by the SCVMM. Soon, you will be able to manage production checkpoints via SCVMM 2016.

Other improvements

There have been other improvements such as deploying and managing Storage Spaces Direct, defining Storage Replica to eliminate the need for buying storage replication technology, and defining and managing Storage Quality of Services (QoS) in order to ensure that specific disks and VMs will not drop below a certain QoS for storage.

An important change that many organizations might not like is the inability to deploy Server App-V packages via SCVMM 2016. Although you will no longer be able to create SCVMM templates to deploy Server App-V packages in SCVMM 2016, Microsoft will be releasing SCVMM 2016 with a lot of improvements and new cost saving features. In light of that, organizations might not be too worried about the deprecated features. Upcoming SCVMM 2016 will also address managing PowerShell-only managed features via SCVMM console.

Next Steps

Learn the benefits of Nano Server

Clustered storage via Storage Spaces and Scale-Out File Server

Avoid downtime with Windows Server 2016

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Hyper-V management