Executive Summary:

Microsoft created System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which is a component of the company’s suite of management products, to manage a virtual infrastructure, and its SCVMM 2008 version improves on the original. SCVMM was designed to integrate into System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 SP1. If you’re already using SCOM, you can take advantage of new features in SCVMM 2008.

A unique problem associated with a virtualized infrastructure is keeping inactive virtual machines (VMs) in the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) library up-to-date with the latest software patches. It’s not uncommon for VMs that aren’t currently needed to be shut down for weeks or months at a time, without participation in any regular patching cycle during that period.

Microsoft designed a utility to make solving this problem a little easier. The Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool, currently in beta, is a Microsoft Solution Accelerator that integrates with SCVMM, PowerShell, and your Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services servicing tool to patch your inactive VMs. It does so with PowerShell scripts called “servicing jobs” that deploy an inactive VM from the library to a host to start the VM, trigger the software update cycle, then shut down the VM and return it to the SCVMM library. The tool works in conjunction with Task Scheduler, so you can schedule the servicing jobs to run at low activity times on your hosts.

The Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool beta is public and available to anyone who registers on Microsoft Connect (connect.microsoft.com). The current beta supports only SCVMM 2007, but the latest version in the works tackles interoperability with SCVMM 2008.