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Use these Hyper-V management tools to boost efficiency

Common Hyper-V administration tasks are time-consuming and risk slowing down your workflow. Use these tools to simplify and automate your administration.

Repetitive tasks can make Hyper-V administration inefficient. As someone who uses Hyper-V every day, I have found...

a number of different ways to make light work of common tasks. By incorporating and employing these Hyper-V management tools and techniques, admins can automate and simplify their administration.

Use PowerShell when appropriate

The cardinal rule of Hyper-V efficiency is to know when to use PowerShell. PowerShell is Microsoft's preferred Windows Server and Hyper-V management tool. You could conceivably use PowerShell to do almost any Hyper-V administrative task.

That being said, PowerShell isn't always the best tool for the job. PowerShell is great when you perform large-scale management tasks across many VMs or that involve multiple Hyper-V hosts. PowerShell's built-in scripting capabilities also make it a good choice for tasks you want to automate. For simple, one-off tasks, such as creating a new VM, however, it might be faster to use the GUI. Although it's relatively easy to use PowerShell to create a new VM, the task becomes cumbersome if you need to use nondefault values for hardware allocations. As such, PowerShell is best suited for scripted operations that create large numbers of VMs, while the GUI will likely be faster if you only need to create one VM.

Build SCVMM templates

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is practically a required Hyper-V management tool if you have more than one Hyper-V host. Unlike Hyper-V Manager, SCVMM gives you a consolidated view of your entire virtualization infrastructure. It also exposes functionality that doesn't exist in Hyper-V Manager, such as the ability to configure maintenance windows.

When it comes to saving time, the ability to create VM templates is one of the most helpful features in SCVMM. As its name implies, a VM template is a mechanism that helps automate the creation of VMs. Typically, a VM template consists of the VM's hardware allocations and an OS, but a template can also include applications, security settings and other aspects you might want to build into it.

Creative administrators can find many ways to simplify and automate Hyper-V administration.

Although your goal is to save time, make sure to rebuild your templates often. While that might sound time-consuming -- and it can be -- doing so will pay off in the long run.

A few months ago, I worked on a project that required me to create 36 Windows Server 2016 VMs. I already had a fully functional Windows Server 2016 VM template, but I decided to delete my existing template and build a new one prior to creating the new VMs.

If I had built the VMs from my existing template, then I would have ended up with 36 outdated copies of Windows Server. Windows Update would have applied any missing patches, but waiting for all of those VMs to install their required updates would have been a waste of time. It was faster to work through the update process once -- while building a template -- and then not have to worry about needing updates after creating the VMs.

Create an ISO library

Even if you don't have SCVMM, an ISO library can be a time-saver. On my own network, I have a shared folder that contains the ISO files -- DVD image files -- I use on a regular basis. When I set up a VM, I don't have to look for software because I have everything I need in the ISO library.

I have also found it helpful to create custom ISO files. Take Exchange Server 2016, for example, which requires the installation of a number of prerequisites before installing Exchange Server. I include those prerequisites within my ISO image, alongside the Exchange Server installation binaries, so that when I need to install Exchange Server, I don't have to worry about downloading the prerequisite components.

Hyper-V is an extremely versatile hypervisor with numerous Hyper-V management tools available. Creative administrators can find many ways to simplify and automate Hyper-V administration. The end result will save significant amounts of time spent on administrative tasks.

Next Steps

Get the most out of VMware templates

Maintain consistent VM deployment while your data center grows

Explore these third-party Hyper-V management tools

This was last published in October 2017

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