Q: How can I test System Center 2012 with Windows Server 2012?

A: System Center 2012 RTM won't support Windows Server 2012 (formerly code-named Windows Server 8). However, the SP1 update for System Center 2012 will add various levels of support for Windows Server 2012.

Even though System Center 2012 hasn't been released yet, a community technology preview (CTP) of SP1 is available from the Microsoft download site, titled "System Center 2012 CTP for Windows Server "8" Beta." It provides an updated version of System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager and System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager that supports Windows Server 2012.

The key Windows Server 2012 features that are enabled with the technology preview are shown below.

The CTP enables the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) component's management server to run on Windows Server 2012 as well as managing virtual machines (VMs) hosted on Windows Server 2012. The CTP also enables management of these new Windows Server 2012 features in SCVMM:

  • Creation of Hyper-V vrtual networks using Hyper-V network virtualization
  • Creation of VMs using the VHDx format
  • SMB 2.2 file servers as storage for VMs in a clustered and non-clustered environment
  • Live migration and live storage migration

The CTP enables the Data Protection Manager component's repository and agents to run on Windows Server 2012 as well as providing protection in Windows Server 2012 environments. The CTP also adds protection for these new features in Windows Server 2012:

  • Hyper-V VMs on Cluster Shared Volumes 2.0 (CSV2.0)
  • Hyper-V VMs on remote SMB share
  • Files on de-duplicated volumes

This isn't a release to run in production environments, and if you read the requirements carefully it shows that for SCVMM the only OS supported is Windows Server 2012 Beta for both the guests and virtualization hosts and all other roles.

That means you wouldn't be able to also use it with existing Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V hosts. Remember this is just a specific Windows Server 2012-related System Center 2012 technology preview; this is not saying that the final SP1 for System Center 2012 would drop support for Windows Server 2008 R2.

See more FAQs on virtualization, System Center, and all things IT pro at John Savill's FAQs.

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