Seven tips for Hyper-V monitoring that you'll wish you'd read sooner

Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud
for service providers

Learn how to better manage your Hyper-V environment and improve performance. In this article, we’ll walk through how to optimally configure your VMs and servers. Then, we’ll provide a number of tips for Hyper-V monitoring. 

A key aspect of optimizing and monitoring performance is understanding the requirements for the workloads. You need to identify these requirements, along with the dependencies of the software that you’ll run, and then categorize the various types of resource utilization parameters. These are the high-level considerations: 

  • Memory – What is the amount of RAM that is necessary for a specific VM? Is this amount adequate for all levels of application activity?
  • CPU – Learn if the applications are typically CPU-intensive. Is it possible the performance gains will be seen with multiple CPUs?
  • Storage Options – Account for all speed and capacity requirements for storage that supports the VMs. Will the applications run better using network storage?
  • Network – Does any VM need access to other systems—or to the Internet? Which of these VMs will generate heavy traffic?

Gather this information from historical statistics that your organization may be collecting, or think through how best to conduct the estimates. Either approach will be helpful in identifying potential performance bottlenecks.

Monitoring Hyper-V Performance

Many sysadmins keep Task Manager and Performance Monitor front and center as their basic monitoring tools. While these tools are simple dashboard tools that are easy to sort and examine, the statistics for both the child and parent partitions might be misleading.

Keep in mind: a primary virtualization goal is to ensure complete isolation among partitions. As Ben Armstrong explains in “Hyper-V, Virtual Machine CPU usage and Task Manager”, basic standard monitoring tools probably won’t provide a complete picture. The question becomes: What should you be monitoring? And What is Hyper-v?

Hyper-V includes a number of monitoring tools, which you can access from the local computer or a remote computer that runs the Performance Monitor app. Though most of these tools are basic, and lack advanced features, it’s good to become familiar with the use of each one: 

  • Hyper-V Hypervisor
  • Hyper-V Hypervisor Partition
  • Hyper-V Hypervisor Virtual Processor
  • Hyper-V Hypervisor Logical Processor
  • Hyper-V Virtual IDE Controller
  • Hyper-V Virtual Network Adapter
  • Hyper-V Virtual Machine Summary
  • Hyper-V Virtual Machine Bus 

Of special note is the Hyper-V Hypervisor Logical Processor performance counters, from which you can get CPU usage information as you work to identify bottlenecks. 

You may need more capability than what these basic tools offer. Acronis Cloud Manager offers backup and restore features that are much more powerful and flexible; and the ability to configure, manage and migrate a large array of VMs across your entire infrastructure. It’s the only platform that provides a single access point for Hyper-V administration, monitoring and recovery. 

Tip 1 — Don’t Rely on Task Manager Data Within a VM

The first rule is don’t ever measure the performance of a VM from within a VM, because it can only see its little keyhole view of the world. Here’s a simple test to understand this: run one VM on a host, run an application (such as Prime95) that maxes out the virtual CPU(s).

Task Manager will report 100% CPU, but if you now start another VM and run the same application in that VM, Task Manager will still report 100%—but it’s actually running at half the speed compared to earlier. This example disregards additional processors in the host, but clearly demonstrates the Task Manager in VMs lies.

Tip 2 — Establish a Performance Baseline

The second rule for performance monitoring, whether physical or virtual, is to create baselines when things are humming along. Unless you’ve got a baseline from when performance was good and users happy, you have nothing to compare with when issues arise. Learn how to create Data Collector Sets: log for a few days, and archive the results.

Tip 3 — Use Counters That Are Specific to Hyper-V

When using Performance Monitor in the host, be aware that it might lie as well. Don’t use normal counters as they often don’t understand VMs, use Hyper-V specific counters. For processor performance use the Hyper-V Hypervisor Logical Processor% Total Run Time counter; this will let you monitor physical processors in the host. For VMs use Hyper-V Hypervisor Virtual Processor% Guest Run Time, which lets you monitor virtual CPUs for each running VM (or as a total). As a rule of thumb, less than 75% for this counter (total for all VMs) is healthy, over 75% is a warning sign, and more than 85% should definitely be investigated.

Tip 4 — Keep an Eye on Committed Memory

In today’s Hyper-V world of BDM (Before Dynamic Memory), you should monitor MemoryAvailable Mbytes on the host. Healthy is more than 10% of RAM free, at less than 10% it’s a warning that something is going on. If it’s less than 100 MB, it needs to be looked at. Veterans will know that “high pages per second” means a low memory condition, but there are cases where this isn’t true (due to memory mapping of files). Use the MemoryCommitted Bytes counter to see how much memory each VM is using when planning your VM memory allocation.

Tip 5 — Provide Adequate Memory Buffer

In the physical world, as sysadmins, we always like to have a bit extra up our sleeve. If you were designing a server that you knew would use about 1.5 GB of memory you’d install 2 GB just to be on the safe side. In the VM world, this is adjusted with the buffer, the default is 20%. For workloads that need a lot of file cache to increase this value. This screen is also where you can assign a higher or lower weight to each VM, which will allow a VM to have a higher (or lower) priority for memory as the host starts running low on available memory.

Tip 6 — Watch the Disk Latency

Monitoring disk is done via the LogicalDisk(*)Average Disk SecRead or Write which indicates your disk latency. Healthy is less than 10ms (0.010). If it goes up to 15ms or above (0.015), it’s time to check it out. At 25ms or above (0.025) the situation is critical.

Tip 7 — Network Performance

For network monitoring use the counter Network Interface (*)OutputQueue Length. Less than 1 on average is healthy, the warning is when it’s above 1 on average, and critical is when it’s 2 or more on average.

Additional Resources

We trust that this article is useful for you as you seek to configure a Hyper-V environment for optimal performance. Below you can find other resources to dive deeper into this important sysadmin subject.

With Acronis Cloud Manager, admins can easily monitor Hyper-V performance as well as manage and optimize their virtual datacenter. This platform covers everything, from Hyper-V hosts and clusters to virtual network appliances. It offers capabilities similar to the Microsoft System Center at a fraction of the cost. Acronis Cloud Security can be configured as a virtual router and managed by a network controller. Your infrastructure will be protected by a virtual firewall, agentless antivirus, intrusion detection, network anomaly detection, deep packet inspection and network analytics with granular user access control.

Source Credit: Paul Schnackenburg

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20.000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.

More from Acronis