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A better environment management tool: Hyper-V Best Practices Analyzer

Most admins are familiar with Hyper-V Manager and SCVMM, but there's other useful info only the Hyper-V Best Practices Analyzer can give you.

Hyper-V Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager have long been go-to tools for managing hosted virtual machines. Neither tool, however, directly indicates whether your Hyper-V configuration adheres to Microsoft's recommended best practices. To learn that information, you must turn to the Hyper-V Best Practices Analyzer.

The first steps

Hyper-V Best Practices Analyzer
Figure A: Access the Best Practices Analyzer through the Windows Server 2012 Server Manager.

To access the Hyper-V Best Practices Analyzer in Windows Server 2012, simply open the Server Manager, select the Hyper-V container and then scroll down to the Best Practices Analyzer section, as shown in Figure A.

The Best Practices Analyzer is empty by default: It is up to you, the administrator, to initiate a best practices scan. To start the scan, choose the Start BPA Scan option from the Tasks drop down list found in the upper right portion of the analyzer.

BPA scan options

Hyper-V BPA scan options
Figure B: You can run a best practices scan against multiple servers if you have created server pools.

Server pools are a new concept in Windows Server 2012. If the Hyper-V server is a part of a server pool, then the next screen you see will list all the servers within that pool. Windows actually gives you the option of initiating best practices scans on multiple servers as well.

In Figure B, you can see that I have been given the option of running best practices scans against three Hyper-V servers. It is worth noting that I actually have five Hyper-V servers in this server pool, but two of them are turned off at the moment, so the analyzer only displays those currently powered on.

Warnings and errors

Hyper-V warnings and errors
Figure C: You should filter scan results to show only warnings and errors.

Select the Hyper-V server or servers that you want to scan and then click the Start Scan button. Normally the scanning process is quick and easy, but I recommend that you avoid running best practices scans against heavily loaded Hyper-V servers because the scans can momentarily add to the server's workload. You might consider migrating one or two VMs to a different host prior to scanning a heavily loaded host server.

Unlike some of the other best practices scans, the results list for Hyper-V tends to be relatively short. Even so, I recommend filtering the results list so that it only displays warnings and errors. You can accomplish this by using the drop down shown in Figure C and choosing the Warnings and Errors option.

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As you examine the errors and warnings, understand that not every error or warning indicates a problem. For example, my scan results displayed an error indicating that VMs should be backed up at least once a week. I do back up my VMs but, because of the method I use, Hyper-V isn't aware of the backups.

On the other hand, warning messages are sometimes more serious than errors. For instance, my scan produced a warning indicating that the current version of the Integration Services should be run on all VMs. Running an outdated version of the Integration Services can negatively affect the VM's performance. I ran the best practices scan against a lab server thinking all of my lab VMs were running the current version of Integration Services. This is a perfect example of a situation in which a warning message points to a previously unknown issue that needs to be addressed.

This brings up another point: When you click on an event log entry, the Best Practices Analyzer will display more information. For example, when I clicked on the warning message pertaining to the Integration Services version, the Best Practices Analyzer provided me with the GUIDs for the three VMs that needed to be updated. The text also provided instructions for updating the Integration Services.

The Best Practices Analyzer for Hyper-V is useful for making sure that your host servers adhere to Microsoft's recommended best practices. However, not every reported condition actually represents a problem, so you have to use some common sense when interpreting the results.

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