Q. I'm using Hyper-V and want to use the System Center suite to help manage and maintain it. What's the difference between Server Management Suite Enterprise and Datacenter editions?

A. System Center consists of a number of solutions that can make a huge difference to the manageability of your Hyper-V environment. Below are the System Center components included with Server Management Suite:

  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2—used to monitor hardware, Hyper-V hosts, guest OS instances, and applications running within guests.
  • System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2—used to deploy OSs, applications, and updates, to perform inventory of hardware and software, and to provide support and metering. Can maintain your Hyper-V hosts, virtual machines (VMs), physical servers, and desktops.
  • System Center Data Protection Manager 2007—provides near real-time backup of the VMs using VSS technologies.
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 R2—provides enterprise level management, physical to virtual conversions, virtual to virtual conversions, libraries of VMs, and more. The VMM management server is also included in the suite.

All of these components are part of the Server Management Suite and can be purchased in two editions, Enterprise (SMSE) and Datacenter (SMSD). The only difference is the number of Virtual OS Environments (VOSEs) that are supported. SMSE supports four VOSEs and the Physical OS Environment (POSE), the Hyper-V host. SMSE is a set price or $1,198 at the time of writing. The SMSD supports an unlimited number of VOSEs and the POSE and is licensed on a per-physical processor (socket) basis, $749 per processor, with a two processor minimum purchase.

Basically, if you're running four VOSEs on a box you can use SMSE. If you want to run more, use SMSD. This matches the VOSE rights with Windows Server Enterprise (four) and Datacenter (unlimited).

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