Simplify Virtual Server Remote Management with VMRCplus

VMRCplus is a handy little tool from remotely managing MS Virtual Server and VMs.

If you’re running Microsoft Virtual Server within your organization, you should take a moment to download VMRCplus. VMRCplus is a free tool that offers improved remote management of Virtual Server VMs and allows you to remotely manage the Virtual Server service as well. Granted, VMRCplus does not have all of the bells and whistles of System Center Virtual Machine Manager, but it’s free. By itself, Virtual Server 2005’s Virtual Machine Remote Control (VMRC) client allows users to remotely connect to virtual machines and perform tasks such as starting and stopping VMs.

VMRCplus can do much more than VMRC. With VMRCplus, you can:

  • View VM performance information in real time
  • Create and manage virtual networks
  • Create and manage virtual hard disks
  • View the Virtual Server event log
  • Create new VMs or add existing VMs to Virtual Server
  • Configure a VM’s virtual hardware settings
  • Configure the Virtual Server security settings

VMRCplus also includes a Browse button in each configuration window. So if you’re one of the administrators who have grown tired of having to manually enter file paths using the Virtual Server administration web site, you will really appreciate VMRCplus.

VMRCplus is a very good alternative to the Web-based management included with Virtual Server 2005 R2. It leverages integrated Windows authentication as well, so redundant logins are not necessary. Another nice feature of VMRCplus is that it is packaged as a MSI file, allowing it to easily be deployed using Group Policy.

If you’re interested in taking this tool for a spin, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download VMRCplus.
  2. Once the download completes, unzip the VMRCplus setup files. Then start the VMRCplus setup by double-clicking on the VMRCplus.msi file.
  3. When the Microsoft VMRCplus Setup wizard opens, click Next.
  4. Accept the license agreement terms and click Next.
  5. In the Custom Setup dialog window, ensure that both the VMRCplus and the VSCOMAPI are selected for installation. If you are installing VMRCplus on a system running the Virtual Server service, then you do not need to install the VSCOMAPI. When you have selected the installation components, click Next.
  6. Click Install.
  7. When the installation completes, click Finish.

You can now open VMRCplus by clicking Start | All Programs | VMRCplus. Once VMRCplus opens, you can connect to a Virtual Server system by entering the system’s host name or IP address in the top left text field and then clicking Connect. Once connected, you’ll see the Virtual Server system’s VMs listed, as in Fig. 1. VMRCplus features a nice right-click power menu, so to start a VM, you just need to right-click on the VM and select Startup Guest. You can open a console window for any VM by right-clicking on the VM and selecting Guest Console, or by hitting Ctrl+G on the keyboard (see Fig. 2).

VMRCplus user interface
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Figure 1. The VMRCplus user interface

Figure 2: The VMRCplus Guest Console

VMRCplus user interface
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Figure 2. The VMRCplus Guest Console

There’s little not to love with VMRCplus. If you’re new to Virtual Server, I suggest that you first learn to work with Virtual Server using its default browser-based interface. Spend a few hours with that interface and then switch to VMRCplus. You’ll probably find that you too are proof of the saying, “Once you go VMRCplus, you never go fuss.”

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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