One of the things we heard fairly early on while planning VMM was that offline storage of VHDs was going to become an increasingly large management task. Based on this need, we created the “VM Library” feature to allow users to save virtual machines that weren’t currently running to a managed location. As we developed the requirements for this feature, we quickly realized that people wanted to store more than VMs, they wanted to store all of the stuff that they used to create VMs as well (ISOs, templates, OS profiles, Hardware profiles etc.) so we changed the feature’s name to “library” instead of “VM library”. Before defining the feature in detail, we had to make some key design decisions and at the risk of boring you, I’ll walk through some of that decision making process.
Does the library contents reside in the file system or in a database? This is an age old debate and ultimately we decided to keep meta data in our SCVMM database but we kept all of the VHDs, ISOs etc. on file shares. While this made our life a little bit harder (we were now responsible for designing a system that kept meta data and the file system data in sync) it gave customers more flexibility. They could continue to use existing file replication technology and still had the ability to use Windows explorer or other file management tools to organize the information in any way that they wanted. It also made it easier to integrate with existing systems.
Is the library a physical thing or just a logical thing? We decided that the answer to this question was “both”. If you go to the library section of our UI, you’ll see that you can either view the library as a logical collection of items (my favorite view is to click on the library server tree-node on the left and then group by “type”) or you can view the actual physical folder hierarchy within the library share. Logical views are very convenient but sometimes the physical location of a file is important as well so you can use either view interchangeably. Templates, OS profiles and hardware profiles are all purely logical constructs so you won’t find those items on disk, they’re in our database. It’s likely that we’ll ultimately have on disk representations of those objects as well in the future though.
SCVMM, Virtualization, VM, VM Library, Microsoft, VHD, ISO