When working with virtualization platforms, monitoring gathering information concerning performance is a necessary part of keeping an eye on key performance indicators in the environment. When working with Microsoft Hyper-V as a virtualization platform, there are a lot of third party tools out there that can gather performance information from Hyper-V environments. However, there is a free tool from Microsoft that allows pulling information from Hyper-V environments and analyzing them based on built in templates for analysis. Let’s take a look at Monitoring Hyper-V Performance with Server Performance Advisor and see how this little utility provides some really great insights into a Hyper-V environment.
Server Performance Advisor Requirements and Installation
Server Performance Analyzer is an aging tool, however, provides some really good insights into performance with a variety of products. Server Performance Analyzer is a little tool that can help with the following things in a server infrastructure environment:
Manage server performance and troulbeshooting performance issues
Providing reporting and recommendations regarding configuration and performance issues
Provide recommendations based on collected data
The great thing also about Server Performance Analyzer is that it contains specific Advisor Packs for various Microsoft Products. It includes the following Advisor Packs by default
- Microsoft Hyper-V Advisor Pack V2
- Microsoft AD Advisor Pack
- Microsoft CoreOS Advisor Pack V2
- Microsoft IIS Advisor Pack V2
However, more can also be downloaded and implemented into the Server Performance Advisor. This allows it to have specific expertise according to Microsoft Best Practices recommendations for those products. Additionally, the features of SPA allow for the following according to Microsoft:
Can perform analysis against servers running Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2008.
- Supports remote analysis capability, which allows SPA 3.1 to collect and analyze data from a central console, with no need to install code on the servers to be analyzed.
- Uses a Microsoft SQL Server for data analysis and storage, which enables processing and storing large amount of data.
- Separates the tool from the Advisor Packs. Performance analysis logic for each server role is released in the form of an advisor pack, which can be released or updated separately from the tool.
- Provides Advisor Packs that are developed in SQL scripts with an open architecture. Non-Microsoft parties can develop advisor packs or extend the existing advisor packs from Microsoft to cover special needs.
- Supports new features like side-by-side comparison reports, and trend and historical charts to help you find abnormalities.
- Provides features such as modify, import, and export thresholds to help you fine tune the reports and notifications and share those tunings with other SPA users.
- Supports multiple projects, which can be used to group targeted servers.
- Provides recurring data collection from within the SPA console.
- Enables custom queries and report generation by using Microsoft SQL Server (for advanced users).
- Customized Windows PowerShell cmdlets are available to use with SPA
- Backward compatible for importing and viewing reports from a SPA 3.0 database
A note with regard to the above, in my testing, I ran the SPA utility against a Windows Server 2016 Server running Hyper-V and it seems to work fine.
Installing Server Performance Advisor is fairly straightforward. The installation is downloaded as a CAB file instead of an executable, msi, etc. You can download the CAB file here:
Once you have the CAB file downloaded for your specific architecture, you can extract the CAB file by using the commands:
- 32-bit systems – extrac32.exe /e /a /l “d:SPA” “d:SPASPAPlus_x86.cab”
- 64-bit systems – extrac32.exe /e /a /l “d:SPA” “d:SPASPAPlus_amd64.cab”
Monitoring Hyper-V Performance with Server Performance Advisor
After extracting the CAB file, simply launch the SpaConsole.exe file in the folder created during the extraction.
Click on File >> New Project to begin creating a new Hyper-V project for analyzing Hyper-V servers.
Part of the New Project Wizard that launches is configuring an SPA project database. You will need to have access to a SQL Server for this purpose.
The New Project Wizard will create the DB so no need to create it beforehand.
Here you can provision advisor packs. The screen I captured below didn’t correctly see the advisor packs that are included as in my case the extraction didn’t work correctly on the first run. I re-extracted the CAB and was able to see the included advisor packs. We will see them below.
Here on the Configure Servers screen, you setup the connections to your Hyper-V servers. The File Share Location must also be populated. This is where the logs will be stored from SPA.
Now, we have the connections setup for the Hyper-V servers. You can simply check the box next to the servers or the check all box, and then hit the Run Analysis button.
If like me, you want to make sure you have the correct Advisor pack(s) configured, click teh Configuration >> Configure Advsior Packs menu option. Note, below, the Microsoft Hyper-V Advisor Pack V2 is not installed. Click the pack and hit the Provision button when it activates.
After provisioning, you will see the Installed Version column populated.
In the Run Analysis screen, choose the advisor pack you want to use in the run. Here is where you also configure the run duration and you can also choose to Repeat collection every option.
Next, you will be prompted to enter credentials for the target servers.
The data collection begins collecting data.
After the run finishes, you will see three buttons in the results for each server that allow the following:
- View Latest Report
- Find report
- View Charts
In clicking the View Charts option, you will get to pick the server, advisor pack name and the start and finish dates for displaying the data.
Very similar to Performance Analyzer, Server Performance Advisor displays the relevant data.
In my opinion, the real value in this took is in the reporting side. Here, SPA actually gives recommendations based no the analyzing of data from the run. As you can see, the SLAT support is flagged for this host (running as a nested ESXi installation).
Monitoring Hyper-V Performance with Server Performance Advisor provides a powerful way for Hyper-V administrators to collect performance data and also have recommendations based on best practices provided by Microsoft. The built-in advisor packs allow having very specific expertise applied base on the product being analyzed, as in this case – Hyper-V. The tool is easy to install, provision, and intuitive to operate. Be sure to check out SPA if you are looking at Monitoring Hyper-V Performance and also maybe looking to validate a Hyper-V installation.