Monitoring a Hyper-V based infrastructure can be accomplished quickly and with minimal fuss if you have the right tool in place.
Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology has become an increasingly competitive hypervisor platform. However, Microsoft continues to battle the narrative that VMware is favored by large enterprises, while smaller organizations gravitate to Hyper-V.
Smaller IT organizations or enterprises looking to make a tactical shift may well gravitate to "free" versions of hypervisors. Hyper-V is an easy choice simply because it ships for free with Microsoft Server.
The challenges facing IT are determining what kind of functionality it can live with before "free" turns to "paid" and calculating the incremental cost to implement additional paid capabilities.
Monitoring the Hyper-V platform is not as simple as it would seem, especially if Hyper-V is deployed as "free". Significant IT resource and economic barriers can enter into the equation when looking to monitor a Hyper-V environment.
Microsoft provides both free and paid technologies for natively managing and monitoring Hyper-V. For the moment we’ll leave PowerShell out of the equation because of the time and effort required to build it out. Let's now explore...
Hyper-V Manager is the built-in (free) interface that is installed with the Hyper-V role and allows users to manage Hyper-V hosts and the VMs residing on the hosts. The interface allows users to control one host at a time and also manage hosts that are nodes in a Failover Cluster.
Hyper-V Manager capabilities include:
- Configure Hyper-V host wide settings, such as live migrations
- Add/remove/modify VMs
- Add/remove/modify virtual hard disks
- Stop/start/save VMs
- Manage checkpoints
- Control Replication
Failover Cluster Manager (also built-in) manages both the failover of clusters and VMs that have been clustered.
Hyper-V Manager is a simple and lightweight Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, and together with the Failover Cluster Manager they provide more than enough to manage a few Hyper-V hosts and even several clusters.
Deploying is very easy:
Using Hyper-V Manager: simply turn on the role, make sure you have enough disk space, and then deploy.
Monitoring once the deployment is complete is not so easy:
Hyper-V Manager does not provide the ability to monitor Hosts, VMs, and associated resources. A step up to System Center and the System Center Virtual Machine Manager component is required.
System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)
Although Hyper-V and Hyper-V Manager are free and part of both Standard and Datacenter Editions, if you require management and monitoring, including alerting and reporting, you must purchase Management Licenses for Microsoft’s data center management suite System Center, so that you can use the SCVMM component to monitor Hyper-V.
System Center is a monolith - SCVMM cannot be purchased separately, the list license price includes the components listed below:
Data Protection Manager
Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)
Each one of the System Center components is itself a separate installation. Systems Center is substantial and delivers a lot of functionality, and the installation requirements reflect this: Systems Center requires one or more dedicated servers, a SQL instance, and agent installations.
The SCVMM component's capabilities are extensive and include:
Consolidated management of all VMs (includes Citrix/XenCenter and VMware/vSphere)
Build VMs based on VM templates for quick deployment
Hyper-V deployment - (bare metal) unformatted host
Network Virtualization – create and manage virtual networks and network gateways
Dynamic Optimization - analyze VM workloads and move to different hosts using Live Migration
Power Optimization - consolidate running VMs onto fewer hosts using live migration, then power down the unneeded hosts.
What if you don’t need the advanced functionality that System Center and SCVMM provide, yet still want to monitor your Hyper-V environment?
Longitude is powerful and easy to use monitoring software that helps manage the IT infrastructure and accompanying applications for maximum performance and availability.
Automatically collects key physical and virtual performance metrics from Hyper-V hosts
Consolidates alarms for unified alerting and reporting.
Built-in knowledge base alerts to potential performance or availability problems with VMs, hosts, or any virtual-related entities, and optionally takes corrective action.
Generates comprehensive reports to show physical and virtual utilization.
Correlates Hyper-V indicators with infrastructure issues along with end user response metrics for an accurate assessment of application performance.
Longitude’s console can be easily installed on-premises or in the cloud. The technology is agentless and relies on a variety of API’s and protocols to “pull” key performance and availability metrics from the IT infrastructure and applications.
Agentless data collection is ideal, especially in virtualized infrastructures as there is no technology to deploy or maintain on hosts or virtual machines and monitoring overhead is negligible. Auto-discovery makes the deployment and ongoing administration quick and painless.
Longitude's use of WMI to collect Hyper-V metrics makes configuring the technology as simple as pointing and clicking on the hosts.
figure 1. Longitude interactive report
Hyper-V performance and availability details are displayed in dashboards and reports that show exactly how resources are being used cumulatively and individually by a host or VM. No multiple screens or pages, and no need for estimates or computations to determine exactly how much of the total resources are in use.
Analysis reports, by time and date range, can deliver important trend information or show significant incidents. Reports can be analyzed at scales of hours or days and for different VMs and hosts. Reporting provides immediate visibility into the Hyper-V environment, helping users monitor, detect, and resolve performance issues as well as anticipate capacity bottlenecks.
figure 2. sample Longitude dashboard with alerts
Users can view how Hyper-V and the rest of the environment is performing, receive proactive alerts, reveal root causes, and automate corrective actions.
SCVMM is a very capable technology, but may be more than you need, especially if your Hyper-V deployment is not of a grandiose scale. Longitude provides a single portal to quickly and easily monitor essential Hyper-V infrastructure and its accompanying applications.