Microsoft Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool v2 Released

Microsoft released version 2 of their Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool (OVMSTv2) yesterday.  The updated version of the tool, a component of Microsoft’s Solution Accelerator family of ‘best-practice-meets-tools’ adds integration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, and support for System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, and Windows Server® Update Services 3.0 SP1.  The tool works in much the same way as VMware’s Update Manager product updates Windows guest VM’s. Support for System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 obviously means that this product could supplement, replace or conflict with VMware’s Update Manager’s ability to patch Windows guests hosted on a VMware Virtual Infrastructure.

There is not yet much information on this version of the Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool.  A MSDN blog post from May 2008 includes some information on the beta version of the product.  The Getting Started guide included in the OVMSTv2 .zip download reveals a bit more about the requirements and footprint required to implement the solution.  The solution requires a good deal of Microsoft software, including (depending on your environment and requirements) Microsoft Active Directory, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Configuration Manager 2007, and Virtual Machine Manager 2007, and an appropriately designed Group Policy (GPO) environment.  Another requirement is that the target VM’s have DHCP assigned IP addresses.

I did not read anywhere in the documentation that the OVMSTv2 integrates snapshot capabilities to provide simple roll-back of guests that suffer problems on Patch Tuesday, as VMware Update Manager does.  I also did not see a reference to network isolation capabilites in OVMSTv2.  VMware Update Manager keeps offline VM’s offline during the patching process.  OVMSTv2 has to reach out to a WSUS or Configuration Manager server, so I suspect that the guest is not isolated during that patching process.

I have not had a chance to build up all of the requirements of this tool in the lab, so I don’t have any practical advise for using the tool.  Have any of you used the beta or release versions of the tool?  Post a comment to let everyone know your experiences.

The Microsoft Offline Virtual Machine Servicing Tool v2 could be a good tool to add to your Microsoft patch management arsenal, but the small footprint and simplicity of VMware Update Manager will most likely keep all but the most dedicated Microsoft shops from implementing OVMSTv2.

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