Using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool in Hyper-V environments

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning toolkit can be used for Hyper-V consolidation planning and migrations. Learn how to install and use MAP

Rick Vanover

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit enables administrators to plan migrations to various Microsoft...

platforms. The Hyper-V MAP tool is unique among virtualization planning tools, in that it provides planning for nonvirtualization products as well. In this tip, I'll introduce MAP, explain how to install it, and outline how to use MAP in Hyper-V consolidation planning and migration.

Some background on MAP
The MAP toolkit runs on most Windows systems, including Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and Server 2008 across various x86 and x64 versions, as well as service packs. For the installation to be successful, however, there are some prerequisites. Among them are the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 driver, Microsoft Word and Excel, and Windows Installer 4.5. The Office components also require the primary interop assemblies. The interop assemblies are a Visual Studio tool for Microsoft Office with which the MAP toolkit interacts. These components are best delivered from a full install of Microsoft Office.

Before installing MAP, read the release notes to verify that the system on which you want to run the interop assemblies tool is a valid platform. The release notes are available on Microsoft's website. Finally, the MAP toolkit will install a SQL Server 2008 Express Edition local database. This data can then be redirected to a SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008 database server. Unlike most Microsoft tools, the prerequisites for the MAP toolkit are quite thorough, so some pre-installation planning is a good idea. In most cases, you can't just install and go with this tool.

Installation and first run of MAP
Once the thorough prerequisite list is met, the installation of MAP is rather straightforward. In this example, I have used the MAP tool and opted to use the SQL Server 2008 Express installation provided by MAP. This requires an Internet connection so that the installation program will download and install the SQL database while installing MAP. The figure below shows the initial portion of the installation process:

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After the download and configuration of the database, there is little interaction with the installation program. The initial screen of the MAP toolkit has various action categories such as virtualization, security, deployment and other categories listed to get started with MAP. When the tool is first run, however, read the guide document. This guide and other help-related tools are located in the \Program Files\Microsoft Assessment and Planning Solution Accelerator\Help directory for a default installation. There are also links throughout the tool to various help categories. The guide outlines a few more details related to scaling and the scope of various assessment scenarios. Remember, the MAP toolkit plans for more than just Hyper-V, so it takes some searching to get the Hyper-V content identified across the entire tool. Within the getting started guide, there is little mention of Hyper-V.

The first step is to configure MAP to use a database. In the case of my test installation, I have chosen the SQL Server 2008 Express local database which is named DBMAP. Once the database is installed, the MAP toolkit tasks come alive and are ready to go. The figure below shows the opening screen with the Hyper-V section highlighted:

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Once the consolidation recommendation wizard for Hyper-V (and Virtual Server 2005 R2) begins, lists of candidate servers are loaded into the analysis tool which can be done from a flat text file. I have three servers that I will prepare to move to Hyper-V. The MAP toolkit can plan for Windows guest operating systems, and each candidate can use the separate credentials of either a local or domain account. This is because a single account can be used for the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) calls to each candidate by way of a domain account or a consistent local account.

In my example, I have a domain account and two local accounts, and each has different credentials. WMI calls to the candidate machine are desired for Windows systems because they are agentless. For large implementations of a consolidation plan, a Windows Active Directory-based account is the best option for collecting the information. The figure below shows the three systems I use for a consolidation plan after their credentials have been specified:

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At this point, the consolidation plan can be launched. The MAP toolkit probes the identified systems and collects WMI performance data until a specified end time. While by default the data is collected every five minutes, the end time of the collection period is entirely configurable. Clearly, a long and thorough collection of data provides a better sample from which the tool and the administrator can make informed architecture and provisioning decisions.

Once the collection is under way, MAP polls the identified systems for the relevant WMI data and store it in the SQL database defined in the initial setup. For those of you who just can't wait and want to poke around the database, remember that the MAP toolkit is more than just a Hyper-V planning tool. This explains why many aspects of the tool focus on firewall configuration for the security assessment section, as well as the other key areas of the MAP toolkit. The figure below shows the MAP toolkit in the midst of data collection from the specified hosts:

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Consolidation planning and results for Hyper-V migrations from MAP
Once the scheduled collection interval is completed, the main page of the MAP toolkit provides a number of action links based on the collection. These include possible reasons for a collection failure and actions to take related to the collected data. From the consolidation analysis, the MAP toolkit can launch the consolidation wizard for Hyper-V.

Once the data collection is available, the consolidation wizard can collect information about the candidate Hyper-V host to prepare the migration. There are a few main categories that the wizard will collect from an administrator's input. The first of these is the destination processor configuration. This is easy enough with Intel and AMD being listed with various series available with a few speeds and core configurations to select from. The next category is the storage configuration, which unfortunately lacks real-world representation. Most administrators will opt for a shared-storage configuration such as a storage area network. If local drives will be used, serial-attached SCSI, or SAS, drives are the leading type. The figure below shows the storage options:

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Beyond the storage configuration, the consolidation wizard retrieves information about the candidate host system memory quantity and network speeds. Once the information is gathered, the result is a report that has a large amount of boilerplate material, but only a few sections relevant to the workload analyzed. The first is a list of systems that are virtualization candidates. The next section shows current server use, along with a summary of the basic categories of CPU, disk and network. Another relevant section contains the consolidation results where the before-and-after virtualization numbers are shown for the number of servers and their level of utilization. At three servers, my example is quite small, but nonetheless the tool mapped them out into a two-server arrangement. The figure below shows the consolidation results section of the report:

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Finally, the analysis includes a spreadsheet that contains some of the configuration parameters based on the consolidation wizard. These iterations can be tweaked and run again for larger or smaller hosts to map out different configurations for a Hyper-V environment. Also, the performance collections can be re-run to compare consolidation plans with the tool.

MAP is easy to use and intuitive
Overall, you can put the MAP toolkit to use quickly to address Hyper-V virtualization needs. While the MAP toolkit is designed for areas other than Hyper-V virtualization, this slice of the tool does a good job for most environments and is worth giving a test drive. If nothing else, you can run it in your current virtualized environment to see if it is correctly sized. The MAP toolkit is a free download from the Microsoft website. If you give the MAP toolkit a spin, be sure to check out the team blog page for good information on Hyper-V planning, as well as the other components of the MAP tool such as security, power savings and upgrade paths.

Rick Vanover, (MCITP, MCTS, MCSA) is a systems administrator for Safelite AutoGlass in Columbus, Ohio. Vanover has more than 12 years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration and system hardware.

And check out our Server Virtualization blog.

This was last published in January 2009

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