I’ve been a Hyper-V user ever since it was introduced a few years ago. I found it simple and very easy to use and understand, but by itself it was sorely lacking many features that VMware had incorporated into ESX, thus making it a hypervisor that one could not consider seriously in a production environment. So I began working with SCVMM 2008, which gives Hyper-V more functionality, particularly with the use of templates, storage, and the ability to create clones. In fact SCVMM is a requirement if you plan to use XenDesktop to create virtual desktops within a Hyper-V environment. At Synergy San Francisco we used SCVMM 2008 to showcase XenDesktop 5 and Provisioning Services 5.6, as we provisioned 1000 desktops for attendees.
This time for Synergy Barcelona the team wanted to do something different. What we built for Synergy San Francisco was ok, but it was more marketing than practical, so we decided why not show our Desktop Transformation Model in actual use instead of talking about it. This time Project Morpheus will be the power behind the desktops used by our different conference teams at Synergy. It was almost perfect timing that Microsoft released the RC build of SCVMM 2012, so we were able to integrate into our plans. If the build had been released a week later, we probably would not have been able to use it, due to tight time constraints we were under to get our environment built and ready for Synergy Barcelona.
The short release date for us also meant a quick ramp up time to learn the product as quickly as possible. We had a copy of the beta release, but we couldn’t get it to work with XenDesktop 5.5. We had problems getting the RC build to work XD5.5 too, but fortunately Microsoft working with our Citrix development team released an updated build of the binaries about one day before we were planning to scrap it for SCVMM 2008. The new binaries resolved the issues we were running into with XenDesktop 5.5.
Trying to compare SCVMM 2008 to SCVMM 2012 is almost like comparing a plane to the space shuttle. Some features are the same, but many new features have been added making it feel like a totally different product. (I won’t cover the new features in SCVMM 2012 here though). Before installing SCVMM 2012, there is some prerequisite software to install: the Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7 (AIK), SQL Native Client 2008 R2, and SQL Server Command Line Utilities from MS SQL Server 2008 R2 Feature Pack. Once those prerequisites were installed, the installation was pretty straightforward from there.
After the installation was complete, the first thing we did was setup our hosts. This is done now through a new workspace in SCVMM 2012 called a Fabric. For Project Morpheus our SCVMM Fabric Resources consist of 5 XenServer 6 pooled hosts running the server infrastructure, 9 Hyper-V hosts clustered running the virtual desktops supporting half of the Citrix conference teams and the Dell booth, and another 6 Hyper-V hosts also clustered running the other half of the virtual desktops supporting the Citrix conference teams and the Cisco booth. We wanted to keep our Dell and Cisco environments separate so we built 2 SCVMM servers to manage each cluster separately.
XenServer 6 integration is one important new feature of SCVMM 2012 that we were able to use, and which I really liked. I found getting it work to be challenging though because it requires you to know some Linux commands in order to install the SCVMM 2012 integration files on the XenServer hosts. I know very little Linux, so once I crossed that hurdle, the rest of the configuration was not that hard to get through. The feature was not quite ready for primetime at the time of our build. SCVMM at times would show the XenServer 6 hosts as Not Responding, and the only way I’ve found to get communication working again was to reboot the XenServer hosts. Our development team has since released a new update of the Integration files. The files can be downloaded from www.mycitrix.com . You need a MyCitrix account to download the SCVMM integration files. For instructions on how to install the SCVMM Integration files for XenServer 6, plus see the XenServer 6 Installation Guide.
The next step was to add our Hyper-V Cluster. In order for this step to work we had to validate the Hyper-V cluster first within SCVMM 2012. This step seemed redundant because you have to validate the cluster anyway in order to build a Cluster Shared Volume. Now if you happen to be someone who just wants to test SCVMM 2012 and you don’t have a cluster readily available, the good news is that you can build a cluster using one server and still install SCVMM 2012 (this can be another blog post if you’re interested in the details).
Anyway, after validating our cluster we were able to add it to SCVMM for management by specifying one node in the cluster. What I found interesting was that I couldn’t add the cluster by the cluster name, you have to specify at least one node in the cluster, then SCVMM picks up the cluster name and all nodes of the cluster will be added.
After the cluster is added SCVMM needs some time to determine all virtual machines on the hosts, and their current state. It does this through a Refresh Host job that it will automatically generate. Those were the major steps we took to get SCVMM 2012 installed and working for Project Morpheus. Our next step was to configure XenDesktop 5.5 with Machine Creation Services (MCS) and begin building desktops, but that will be another blog post for another time. To be continued my friends! See you in Barcelona.