Microsoft readies Virtual Machine Manager self-service portal

The release of Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0 should help IT pros and end users manage virtual machine resources in private clouds.

Microsoft is nearing completion of a self-service portal to help Windows administrators with common virtual machine resource management tasks.

The System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0 (VMMSSP) release candidate was made available earlier this week. VMMSSP is not an upgrade to the VMM 2008 R2 self-service portal, but an entirely "different beast" that offers many more functions, said Don Retallack, systems management analyst with Directions on Microsoft, a consulting firm based in Kirkland, Wash.

"Companies have been moving to virtualization for many years now and this lets them better delegate virtual machines [VMs] and virtual resources," Retallack said. "The dashboard lets you do more than just allocate VMs though; it expands the capabilities to where users can customize their own workflows, and individual business units can manage their own VMs."

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The portal, built on Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter or Enterprise editions and Hyper-V, is a Web-based user interface that includes separate areas for datacenter managers and business users. It gives both types of users a way to customize VM actions depending on role-based access controls. For example, IT pros can add scripts that interact with SANs to deploy VMs quickly while business users can manage their own resources using a chargeback feature.

Using VMMSSP, administrators can register business unit requirements in one central location and business unit admins can request resources available in the resource pool to host their IT services.

This version of the self-service portal also includes extensibility features that let admins work with ISVs and hardware partners to customize VM actions for their individual environments.

All in all, the tool makes the most sense for hosting providers and for private clouds for resources on demand within an organization, Retallack said.

While the self service portal is sure to be useful for many companies, some administrators don't want to let users control IT resources. "There is still a lot of central control mentality within organizations, so it won't be the right product for everyone," he said. "But, since it lets you push some of the management responsibilities out of IT and onto users, it could be used to lower IT costs."

IT pros interested in Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal can access the related TechNet forum and download it at Microsoft's Download Center.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho or follow @BridgetBotelho on Twitter

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