System Center Virtual Machine Manager 1711: managing virtual machines on Azure

As is already the case for the operating system from next year for the System Center products Microsoft will release updated versions every 6 months (semi-annual channel). The main objective of releasing new versions of the product at a higher rate is to improve support for increasingly heterogeneous environments, enhancing the user experience, performance and stability, and ensure a speedy integration with the cloud world.

Figure 1 – Release Cadence of System Center products

The only exception is that Configuration Manager will continue to respect the release of 3 versions every year to better support integration with Intune.

System Center 1801 will introduce new features with regard to Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager, while for Orchestrator \ SMA and Service Manager will include only security-related updates and resolution of issues.

In November was announced the preview of the new version of System Center (version 1711) which you can download at this link to evaluate the new features that will be introduced in the next year.

In this article, we will learn the feature found in Virtual Machine Manager that allows you to manage Azure virtual machines from SCVMM console. With the current version of Virtual Machine Manager, this feature is now limited because it only supports the management of virtual machines that you create with the defined deployment model Azure Service Management (ASM) and only for the public region of Azure. Even the authentication process must necessarily be done through management certificate. In SCVMM 1711 (Technical Preview) the integration to manage virtual machines in Azure extends by introducing the following changes:

  • Support for virtual machines created using the deployment model Azure Resource Manager (ARM).
  • Authentication in Azure Active Directory and not only certificate-based.
  • Subscription management present not only in the public region of Azure, but also in specific region as Germany, China and US Government.

Following are the steps that you must follow to configure this integration using Azure Active Directory as authentication and authorization process. This authentication method is required to manage both Azure virtual machines created in classic mode (ASM) that in ARM mode. To do this configuration it is necessary to create an Azure Application and assign the necessary permissions to access to the Azure subscription. To create the application you can follow the step reported in detail in Microsoft's official documentation.

Figure 2 – Adding a new Azure Active Directory Application

After you create the Azure Application you should make a note of its Application ID and you need to generate a new Application Key. These values are required by the configuration wizard of SCVMM:

Figure 3 - Application ID and the generation of an authentication key

The Azure AD Application must be a member of a role that only allow you to manage the virtual machines in the Azure subscription. For this reason, you must associate the App you just created to the role Virtual Machine Contributor in the Azure subscription.

Figure 4 - Assignment of the role "Virtual Machine Contributor" to the Azure AD App

By accessing the Virtual Machine Manager console, from the workspace VMs and Services you can add one or more Azure subscriptions:

Figure 5 – Addition of the Azure subscription from the SCVMM console

The configuration screen requires the input of data relating to the subscription and the information to perform the authentication process by Azure AD App:

Figure 6 – Subscription data and authentication information through Azure AD

At the end of this configuration will be displayed in the Virtual Machine Manager console the virtual machines configured in the Azure subscription. On these virtual machines at the moment you can do only the following basic tasks: Start, Stop, Stop e Deallocate, Restart and launch the RDP connection. In addition, for each virtual machine there are some information related to the configuration of the Azure environment.

Figure 7 – Managing Azure virtual machines from SCVMM console


Having in a single console all virtual machines, including those present in Azure, enables administrators to manage, even with simple tasks, easily and with greater rapidity hybrid environments. At the moment it comes as a basic integration but thanks to an accelerated release cycle expected for Virtual Machine Manager is very likely that this integration can be expanded more and more.

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