Hyper-V management tools: What VMware admins need to know

Hyper-V management tools, from Microsoft and its partners, are the crux of the virtualization platform. VMware admins should master these.

For a VMware administrator diving into Microsoft Hyper-V, it can be hard enough understanding Hyper-V features and licensing. But don’t tire yet. You still need to learn about Hyper-V management tools for backup, performance monitoring and disaster recovery.  

Hyper-V management tools go beyond the core functionality you get out of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) alone. These virtualization management tools provide the extra capabilities that unlock virtualization’s full potential: backup and recovery, performance and capacity management, disaster recovery, and private cloud computing, among others.

VMware and Microsoft rely on partners to supply many of these virtualization management tools, but VMware also offers a range of tools that you won’t yet find in the Hyper-V management set. For example, you get VMware Data Recovery for backups, vCenter Operations and CapacityIQ for performance and capacity management, Site Recovery Manager for disaster recovery and vCloud Director for private cloud management.

See the options available for Hyper-V management tools so you can make an informed decision about incorporating Microsoft’s platform into your vSphere infrastructure.

Backup and recovery
Native to Microsoft Windows is the Windows Server Backup utility for Hyper-V management. As Hyper-V management tools go, this one is almost laughable in its inadequacy for anything but the smallest of Hyper-V infrastructures. For instance, it cannot back up Cluster Shared Volumes and you can’t use Windows Server Backup to restore individual virtual machines (VMs). It also will not automatically restore VMs that contain two or more snapshots. If you look elsewhere, pay particular attention to technologies that are Hyper-V aware, which will make backup management much easier if you’re adding Hyper-V to a vSphere infrastructure. 

Performance and capacity management
For performance management, Microsoft includes the Windows Performance Monitor. You can extend its functionality further using PerfMon counters through the combination of SCVMM and System Center Operations Manager, but these Hyper-V management tools don’t include the computation and modeling features you need to convert raw monitoring data into suggested actions. As such, Microsoft leans heavily on its partners for better virtualization management tools.

Disaster recovery
For disaster recovery, Microsoft offers its Windows Failover Clustering feature. With this Hyper-V management tool, you can stretch a Hyper-V cluster across multiple sites and subnets with the assistance of replicated shared storage. Hosts in each site connect to local shared storage, with out-of-band replication occurring between each storage instance. You can configure clusters within the Failover Cluster Manager, which requires special care to ensure that VMs fail over to the correct hosts.

Private cloud computing
Depending on your definition of private cloud, many of its components exist today through SCVMM: high availability, load balancing, self-service and resource management (however limited). The next version, SCVMM 2012, is expected to place a heavy focus on private cloud construction and ongoing maintenance.

As you can see, there are a variety of Hyper-V management tools today, irrespective of their level of maturity. Third-party support will make many of your Hyper-V management tasks easier, though. As VMware sees increased competition from Microsoft, it’s not a bad idea to understand both platforms.

Learning the virtualization management tools in both will assist greatly in consolidating your management effort while retaining your return on investment.

This was first published in August 2011

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