Server Virtualization Assessment using Microsoft Assessment and Planning 3.1 Toolkit (Part 3)

by [Published on 13 May 2009 / Last Updated on 13 May 2009]

Concluding the series by walking through the steps in using MAP 3.1 to collect inventory and performance metrics, perform analysis and generate reports to support a server virtualization assessment.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

This is a three-part article on performing a server virtualization assessment using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 3.1 (MAP 3.1). Part III of this article walks through the steps of using MAP 3.1 to collect inventory and performance metrics, as well as perform analysis and generate reports to support a server virtualization assessment. The information presented in this article assumes that you have application servers deployed in a Microsoft Windows environment.

MAP 3.1 Toolkit Installation

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 3.1 (MAP 3.1) is a free application, available in both x86 and x64 versions, that you can download from the Microsoft website. MAP 3.1 has the following major prerequisites:

  • Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 or later
  • Microsoft Word 2007 or Microsoft Word 2003 SP2
  • Microsoft Excel 2007 or Microsoft Excel 2003 SP2
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express

For more details and known issues, you can consult the MAP 3.1 release notes. When you have downloaded the appropriate executable package, simply double-click to start the setup process.

Figure 1 shows the initial Microsoft Assessment and Planning Solution Accelerator Setup dialog.


Figure 1: Microsoft Assessment and Planning Solution Accelerator Setup Dialog

When you click Next, the system checks for software prerequisites and you are prompted to install any missing components. If the system is configured as required, you are given the opportunity to accept or decline the license agreement terms and select the MAP 3.1 installation folder. A check is made to verify the presence of SQL Server 2005 Express, and if it is not installed on the system, you are given the option to download and install it. As shown in Figure 2, the MAP 3.1 installation is then ready to proceed once you click Install.


Figure 2: MAP 3.1 Installation Screen

When the installation process is complete, you can automatically launch MAP 3.1. Figure 3 shows the main application dialog which is comprised of three main sections. The first, named Assessment, reflects the tab that you choose in the lower left quadrant. The Assessment tab is the starting point for access to all the different wizards and assessment scenarios. The other tabs (Virtualization, Deployment, Security, Operations, and Product Information) display links to additional information hosted on Microsoft websites.

The center pane displays helpful information such as how to get started and perform an assessment, if the Assessment tab is selected. It also displays actual links used to start the various wizards, or to additional information if one of the other tabs is selected.

The Actions pane provides you the means to begin an inventory, view report descriptions, view saved reports and proposals, or get more information about Microsoft Solution Accelerators.


Figure 3: MAP 3.1 Starting Screen

MAP 3.1 uses a three-step process to perform a server virtualization assessment. The first step involves creating or selecting an existing Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database to store the inventory data and performance metrics. The second step involves the actual inventory and performance metrics compilation. Finally, the last step entails assessing the inventory and performance metrics to identify server virtualization candidates, perform consolidation planning, and produce analysis reports.

Creating the MAP 3.1 Database

After selecting the Assessment tab, the first step is to click on the “Select a database” link under the Inventory action. This allows you to create a new database or select an existing database to store the server inventory and performance data. MAP 3.1 can collect data from a single location or from multiple locations across a wide area network (WAN), storing data in the specified database. Because MAP 3.1 uses all the information in a database to perform virtualization candidate assessment and consolidation planning, you must collect the data for each location in a separate database if you have a requirement to perform assessment or consolidation planning on a location by location basis.

Using MAP 3.1 to Create a Server Inventory

As shown in Figure 4, when you select or create a new database, it is added to the Assessment pane information and the Actions pane is updated to provide you with additional choices.

In order to begin the server inventory, use the scroll bar and locate the link named “Identify servers that are capable of running Windows Server 2008” in the center pane of the MAP 3.1 page, as illustrated in Figure 4.


Figure 4: Assessment View

When you click on that link, you will see the Assessment wizard page shown in Figure 5. Ensure that the “Windows Server 2008 Readiness and Role Migration” box is checked, then click Next.


Figure 5: Assessment Wizard

You can then choose one or more discovery methods to identify target servers on your network. As you can see in Figure 6, you may want to select multiple methods if all of your servers are not members of an Active Directory domain. For a detailed description of each discovery method, refer to Part II of this article.


Figure 6: Computer Discovery Methods

Depending on the methods you select, you will then be prompted to enter information such as domain account, a file containing computer names to import, an IP range to scan, or a computer name list. Because MAP 3.1 uses WMI to collect some of the inventory data, you will also be prompted to enter account credentials with local administrator rights on the target servers. If needed, MAP 3.1 allows you to enter multiple account credentials and designate specific servers to use them on, or you can allow MAP 3.1 to sequential try the various account credentials until it finds one that has local administrative privileges. Next, you are ready to review the inventory settings as shown in Figure 7. If you are satisfied with all your selections, click Finish to proceed.


Figure 7: Assessment Wizard Review Settings

Figure 8 illustrates the information dialog that you will see when MAP 3.1 begins the inventory process.


Figure 8: Discovery and Inventory Status

MAP 3.1 generates several reports as part of this process. Among these is a Microsoft Excel document that contains a summary of the server inventory data. You can access it by selecting “View saved reports and proposal” under Reports and Proposal, in the Actions pane as shown in Figure 9. An example of the report is shown in Figure 10.


Figure 9: Saved Reports and Proposals View


Figure 10: Sample Server Inventory Report

Using MAP 3.1 to Capture Performance Metrics

When MAP 3.1 has completed the server discovery and inventory, select the “Capture performance metrics for servers and workstations” option shown in Figure 11, to start the process of collecting performance metrics. 


Figure 11: Selecting the Performance Metrics Wizard

The Performance Metrics Wizard, shown in Figure 12, manages the remote monitoring process to collect disk, memory, network, and processor usage data on the target servers. MAP 3.1 requires this data to generate server consolidation and virtualization recommendations. You must provide MAP 3.1 with a current list of target servers for which to collect the performance data. The list must contain the host names, NetBIOS names, or DNS names of the target servers, and can be compiled from server inventory reports or other valid sources.


Figure 12: Importing a Computer Names File in the Performance Metrics Wizard

MAP 3.1 accepts only a single file with the following characteristics:

  • May not contain a header row
  • May only be in MS-DOS (*.txt) format
  • May only contain a single computer name on each line
  • May only contain a maximum of 120,000 computer names

The file is parsed and MAP 3.1 reports target servers for which it does not have stored inventory information. It also indicates that it will inventory these servers prior to capturing performance metrics. You will then be prompted to specify account credentials with local administrator privileges to allow remote WMI connections, and set the time period for performance data collection. The rule of thumb is to collect data for a minimum of 30 days to ensure that the metrics reflect cyclical high and low performance points. MAP 3.1 must capture performance data during at least 1 hour before it can perform a server virtualization and consolidation assessment.

Finally, you can review the inventory settings as shown in Figure 13. If you are satisfied with your selections, click Finish to proceed.


Figure 13: Performance Metrics Wizard Review Settings

Figure 14 illustrates the information dialog that you will see when MAP 3.1 begins the performance data collection process. As indicated in the figure, performance data is captured at 5 minute intervals.


Figure 14: Performance Metrics Status

The Performance Metrics Wizard generates a single Microsoft Excel worksheet that provides a summary of the overall performance data and details for network, disk, memory, and processor utilization. In addition, it reports the number of times that the MAP tool failed to connect with the target servers.

Using MAP 3.1 to Perform a Server Virtualization Assessment

Having completed the server inventory and performance metrics data collection, the last step is to perform the server virtualization assessment. In order to do this, MAP 3.1 provides the Server Virtualization and Consolidation Wizard shown in Figure 15.


Figure 15: Server Virtualization and Consolidation Wizard

MAP 3.1 prompts you to select the Microsoft virtualization technology to use for the assessment; either Virtual Server 2005 R2 or Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. One of the underlying assumptions is that the same hardware configuration will be used for all virtualization hosts. Therefore, the wizard prompts you to define the model host processor, storage, network, and memory configuration, as shown in Figures 16 through 18. If you plan to use more than one virtualization host configuration, you can run the wizard multiple times and define a different configuration each time.


Figure 16: Model Host CPU Screen


Figure 17: Model Host Storage Screen


Figure 18: Model Host Network Adapters and Memory Screen

After specifying the model host configuration, MAP 3.1 will prompt you to define the maximum number of virtual machines (VMs) to place on a host or use a fixed number that you define. In both cases, the basic assumption is that the consolidated VMs will not exceed either the configuration or performance thresholds of the virtualization host. Lastly, the wizard requires you to specify a file containing the list of target servers. The file can be the same one specified for the Performance Metrics wizard, although you should alter it to remove servers that are no longer valid targets. Similar to the other wizards, you can review your selection prior to starting the assessment process, as shown in Figure 19.


Figure 19: Server Virtualization and Consolidation Wizard Review Settings

Once you click Finish, MAP 3.1 will use internal assessment and virtual machine placement algorithms along with the target server data to determine virtualization candidates and define server consolidation scenarios. During this time, you can monitor progress through the Status dialog, an example of which is shown in Figure 20.


Figure 20: Server Virtualization and Consolidation Assessment Status Dialog

When the wizard completes the assessment, it generates a Microsoft Excel document that contains recommendations for virtualization candidates and placement on host servers, and a Microsoft Office document that provides a summary of the server virtualization and consolidation proposal. You can review and customize these documents as needed to suit your project deliverables.

By default, all of the documents that MAP 3.1 generates can be found in the Documents folder of the account executing the application in a subdirectory named after the database. For example, using the Administrator account and a database named SrVVirtDB, the documents are located at C:\Users\Administrator\Documents\MAP\SrvVirtDB.

Conclusion

In Part III of this article, we walked through using MAP 3.1 to collect server inventory and performance metrics, as well as generate analysis and reports to support a server virtualization assessment.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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