Monitoring Hyper-V performance and utilizing System Center VMM

See the benefits of monitoring Hyper-V performance and utilizing System Center Virtual Machine Manager, including centralized management and organized placement of virtual machines.

Scenario/Problem: In any IT infrastructure, performance of the servers is expected to meet specific thresholds. The same is true for virtual machines. How can you monitor the performance of your virtual infrastructure and use the information you obtain to help troubleshoot any issues you may be facing?

About the book:
This chapter excerpt on how to Implement and Utilize Hyper-V (download PDF) is taken from the book Windows Server 2008 How-To.This book offers information on every essential element to Windows Server 2008, including the necessary steps and procedures for planning, deployment, configuration, security and day-to-day administration. There are sections that focus on the Hyper-V R2 release and all major enhancements built into Windows Server 2008, including Hyper-V virtualization, Server Core, major Terminal Services improvements and more.

Solution: After you have installed the Hyper-V role, the Windows Performance and Reliability Monitor contains 24 specific counters for your Hyper-V environment. You can find detailed information on what counters to look at for specific resource issues at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc768535.aspx. However, keep in mind that performance monitoring of a virtual machine is different from monitoring of a physical machine. Just one example is CPU monitoring. CPU utilization needs to be monitored in three different places:

  • Virtual Machine: CPU utilization takes place within the virtual machine. Hyper-V Manager provides CPU utilization details here; in addition, you can look at the %Guest Runtime counter found in the Hyper-V Hypervisor Virtual Processor section.
  • Hypervisor: CPU utilization also takes place in the Hypervisor. You can monitor this by using the %Hyper Runtime counter, also found in the Hyper-V Hypervisor Virtual Processor section.
  • Host Machine: CPU utilization also takes place at the worker process level on the host machine. You monitor these CPU cycles on the host server.

NOTE: For information on the Reliability and Performance Monitor see Chapter 12, "Monitor Performance and Troubleshoot."

Utilize System Center VMM

Scenario/Problem: Your virtual infrastructure is growing at a very fast pace. You find that within a few months, you are going to have more than 200 virtual machines in your environment, and the count will continue to grow. You need a tool that will help you to stay in control of the virtual infrastructure.

Solution: The System Center VMM, a part of the System Center family of products used to manage IT infrastructure, enables you to take control and oversee the virtual infrastructure. It enables you to manage all your virtual machines and physical hosts. If you are familiar with VMware, this tool will compare with V-Center. An overview of some the benefits System Center Virtual Machine Manager are:

  • Is specifically designed for Windows Server 2008
  • Supports Virtual Server and VMware
  • Optimizes performance and resources
  • Maximizes data center resources
  • Enables simple machine conversions
  • Effectively provisions new virtual machines
  • Enables organized placement of virtual machines
  • Enables delegation of virtual machine management
  • Centralizes management
  • Integrates with PowerShell

NOTE: The following are some of the other members of the System Center family:

  • System Center Data Protection Manager
  • System Center Operations Manager
  • System Center Configuration Manager

These tools and System Center VMM all require the purchase of a license. You can find pricing and licensing information for the VMM at www.microsoft.com/ systemcenter/virtualmachinemanager/en/us/pricing-licensing.aspx.

Let's take a look at the different components of System Center VMM:

  • VMM server: This is the core process that communicates with the host servers.
  • Virtual machine host: Hosts can include the following:
    • Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
    • VMware ESX
  • Virtual machine library server: The library is a catalog of resources that are available to build virtual machines within VMM.
  • Virtual Machine Manager administrator console: This is a graphical user interface (GUI) you can use to manage your virtual infrastructure.
  • Windows PowerShell command-line interface: You can use PowerShell to automate administrative tasks.
  • VMM Self-Service Portal: This is a web-based interface that allows the delegation of building virtual guests in a controlled environment.
  • Microsoft SQL Server: This is an information store of the virtual infrastructure that is contained in the Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database.

The following are some useful functions found in the VMM, besides the ability to create new and clone virtual machines:

  • Convert physical server: You can convert a physical server to a virtual machine (P2V). This process captures an image of the source physical server's disk and then modifies the OS and drivers to be compatible with Hyper-V emulated devices. You can perform either an online P2V or an offline P2V. The online P2V does not require the source machine to be shut down as it uses VSS to capture the disk information.
  • Convert virtual to virtual: This comes into play when (if) you decide to convert a VMware virtual machine to a Hyper-V virtual machine (V2V). There are two steps to performing this conversion:
    1. Copy the .vmx file and all the .vmdk files to the Virtual Machine Manager Library.
    2. Run the Convert Virtual Machine Wizard to identify the disk formats and virtual machine specifics and then convert the .vmdk files to .vhd files.

    The VMM now prepares the virtual hard disks for the new virtual machine creation.

    As you can see, the Service Center VMM can ease your job of managing the virtual infrastructure as it grows. You can even drill down your management to individual virtual machines by performing the following tasks on them:

    • Start a virtual machine
    • Stop a virtual machine
    • Pause a virtual machine
    • Shut down a virtual machine
    • Save state/discard state
    • Connect to a virtual machine

    If you have System Center Operations Manager and reporting turned on, you can generate reports via the Operations Manager to get a view of how your virtual infrastructure is doing and what you can do to improve the space. The following are some of the reports that can be generated:

    • Virtualization Candidates: This report takes a look at your environment and identifies physical servers that are good candidates for virtualization
    • Virtual Machine Allocation: This report provides information on where virtual machines are allocated. This can be used to identify cost centers responsible for funding the virtual machine.
    • Virtual Machine Utilization: This report discusses the resource utilization of virtual machines.
    • Host Utilization: This report summarizes host utilization figures, such as the number of virtual machines running on the host as well as host CPU, memory, and hard disk utilization.
    • Host Utilization Growth: This report discusses the growth on a specified host within a defined time period. Growth is presented in percentage and measures such things as number of virtual machines on the host and resource usage.
    About the authors:
    J. Peter Bruzzese is a network specialist with eight years of experience in the information technology sector. Bruzzese helped form Clip Training LLC, which offers a variety of mini clips on topics from Windows operating systems to server applications.

    Ronald Barrett is an independent consultant, trainer, author and tech speaker whose previous clients include Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, New Horizons and ONLC.com. Barrett has co-authored several books, including Administrator's Guide to Microsoft Office 2007 Servers and contributes regularly to Redmond magazine.

    Wayne Dipchan is the author of McSe Windows 2000 Directory Services Design and is a certified SQL database administrator. Dipchan is also a server expert for New Horizons, Bear Stearns and General Electric Company.

    Prepare for New Features to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2

    Scenario/Problem: Microsoft has definitely made great improvements to its virtual technology with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. However, it still has a way to go when it comes to supporting virtual machines as well as VMware on ESX hosts. You want to stick with Microsoft products in your environment and need to know if its virtual technology is slated for improvements.

    Solution: Windows Server 2008 R2 will provide many needed improvements to Hyper-V. The features we can look forward to include the following:

    • Live Migration: This will enable guests' machines to move from one host to another without application interruption. It is similar to V-Motion for VMware.
    • Support for 32 logical processors on a host server: This is twice the amount currently supported.
    • Hot add/remove of storage: R2 will provide the ability to add and remove virtual hard disks without downtime. This ability will be supported only with SCSI disks.
    • Second-level translation: You will be able to take advantage of new processor features and lighten the load on the Hypervisor.
    • Dynamic memory: The memory pool will be dynamically distributed to virtual machines. Memory can be allocated and unallocated, depending on use, with no service interruption.

    With the addition of these features in R2, Microsoft will definitely be putting itself on the same playing field as VMware running on ESX. There will still be some room for improvement, especially on the Linux support side.

    In this chapter, we have just touched on all that is offered with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. To get more information, take a look at www.microsoft.com/ windowsserver2008/en/us/hyperv-faq.aspx.

    Implement and Utilize Hyper-V
      Installing and managing Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 Server Core
      Using Hyper-V Manager to create virtual machines and hard drives
      Monitoring Hyper-V performance and utilizing System Center VMM

    Printed with permission from Sams Publishing. Copyright 2009. Windows Server 2008 How-To by J. Peter Bruzzese, Ronald Barrett and Wayne Dipchan. For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit Sams Publishing.

    This was first published in November 2009

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