Although it is usually fairly easy to virtualize a server, the virtualization process is something of an art form. Without the proper planning, the virtualization process can result in a tremendous loss of performance, reliability, or even stability. In the past, I have always used manual assessment techniques to develop a virtualization plan. However, Microsoft has integrated virtualization planning into its latest version of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit.
In case you’re not familiar with the Assessment and Planning Toolkit, it is kind of a catchall tool for helping you to prepare for a number of different deployment scenarios, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with virtualization. For example, if you take a look at Figure A, you can see that one of the things that this tool is designed to do is to help you to find ways of consuming less electricity.
Microsoft’s Assessment and Planning Toolkit is designed to assist you with various deployment projects.
Acquiring the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
Microsoft makes the Assessment and Planning Toolkit freely available via Internet download. You can get the toolkit at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb977556.aspx Keep in mind that in order to install the toolkit, your computer will need to have some prerequisite software installed, including Microsoft Office 2007 and the .NET Framework. When you run the installation wizard, it will check your computer, and tell you where to get any of the required components that aren’t already installed.
Using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit
When you run the Assessment and Planning Toolkit for the first time, Windows will display the screen that is shown in Figure A. Click the Select a Database link. When you do, you will be prompted to either create an inventory database, or to use an existing database. Since this is the first time that we have used the tool, choose the Create an Inventory Database option. Enter a name for the new database, and click OK.
You must now tell the toolkit what you want to use it for. Since we are interested in virtualization, select the Prepare Recommendations for Server Consolidation Using Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Virtual Server 2005 R2 link from the screen shown in Figure A.
At this point, you will see a message similar to the one shown in Figure B, telling you that before the application can make any recommendations, it needs performance data. Click the Capture Performance Data For Computers in Your Environment link.
Before the application can make any recommendations, it needs performance data.
You must now create a simple text file containing the names of the computers that you want to test. You can enter the names in either NetBIOS format, or you can enter fully qualified domain names. Once you have created the necessary text file, enter the path and filename into the wizard, as shown in Figure C.
Enter the path and filename of the text file containing your server names.
Click OK, and you should see a message telling you how many of the names on your list are valid. Click OK to clear the message. You will now be taken to a screen that asks you to enter WMI credentials. Essentially, you must use this screen to enter the authentication credentials for an account that is a member of the local Administrators group on the machines that you have specified.
After you have entered the required credentials, click Next. You will now be prompted for a test duration. By default, the test will run for an hour. Click Next, followed by Finish to collect the required performance information. You can see what the collection screen looks like in Figure D.
The Assessment and Planning tool must collect performance information about the target computers.
In this article, I have shown you how to get the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, and how to begin gathering performance information from your servers. In Part 2 of this series, I will show you how to get the toolkit to provide you with a recommendation based on the performance data that you have collected.