The very first tool you’ll use to manage your Hyper-V R2 infrastructure is Hyper-V Manager. It is simplistic enough to learn quickly but powerful enough to be the primary management application for small deployments. Even deployments that utilize System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) will find uses for this tool.
How to Acquire Hyper-V Manager
Getting your hands on a copy of Hyper-V Manager isn’t exactly obvious. First, you need to be using Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or a GUI installation of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1. If you’re using Windows 7, you’ll next need to download and install Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 from Microsoft’s download site. To activate, access the Control Panel and switch to “Programs and Features”. On Windows 7, expand “Remote Server Administration Tools”. On either operating system, expand “Role Administration Tools”. Finally, select “Hyper-V Tools” and click OK. The following screenshot shows this process on Windows 7:
Once you’ve got the tool installed, you’ll find it under the “Administrative Tools” menu selection on the Start Menu.
Interface Quick Tour
When you open the application for the first time, it provides some useful links in the center pane. As an administrator, you are encouraged to exploit the resources and knowledge available at the Hyper-V TechCenter. If you’re in evaluation mode and want whitepapers and other information to present to decision makers, the “Microsoft Virtualization Library” link is your destination.
Of course, you’re using the tool to manage a Hyper-V server, so let’s dive into that. As with most things Microsoft, there are multiple ways to begin. If you right-click the “Hyper-V Manager” item in the left pane, you’ll get a context menu with “Connect to Server…” as an option. With that item highlighted, you can find the same item under the “Action” menu. Enter the name or IP of a Hyper-V host and click OK to connect to it.
This will add the server to the console and select it so that, unless you highlight something else, context menus will operate on it.
Most components of the interface are simple and self-explanatory. If this is your first time in the program, click around and familiarize yourself with the layout and what the menu items do.
Virtual Network Manager
This is one of the most important components of Hyper-V Manager. If your virtual networks aren’t built correctly, your virtual machines will be unable to connect to the network. What this dialog does is create one or more virtual switches. These virtual switches function much like physical layer-2 switches. When you create a virtual machine and give it a virtual network card, you’ll be asked to connect it to a virtual network; that is much like plugging a physical card it into a physical switch. The primary difference is that you don’t have to worry about port numbers.
One confusing thing about this dialog is the way the “OK” and “Apply” buttons work. You can configure multiple virtual networks without clicking either button; just make whatever changes you want to one and then either select another or click on “New virtual network” to begin working on a new one.
Starting at the top of the Virtual Network Properties, the first thing you encounter is the Name field. This isn’t all that important in a single-node deployment with only one NIC, but for any other deployment this matters. In a cluster, only identically named virtual networks can participate in any migration. For instance, the above screenshot shows networks “VMNet1” and “VMNet2”; for a high-availability virtual machine on this node to be LiveMigrated to another node, the destination node must contain a virtual network with the same name(s) as the one in use by the virtual machine. If there is only one node but multiple virtual networks, the names will guide how you load-balance the virtual machines.
The notes field is just that; use as you wish.
The connection type is very important. Only the external type can be used to connect virtual machines to a real network and is the type you will most commonly use. This one will bond to a physical network card in the host. Unfortunately, the drop-down box isn’t exactly easy-to-use for determining which NIC is being assigned. On the Hyper-V host, run “IPCONFIG /ALL” at a command prompt and use the “Description” field for guidance. If you check the box for “Allow management operating system to share this network adapter”, then Hyper-V will create a virtual network card for the management operating system and attach it to this virtual switch. It is not recommended that you do this unless you don’t have enough physical network cards.
If you do select the option to share the physical NIC, you’ll then be able to apply a VLAN Identifier. If you’re plugging into a switch that uses VLANs, then the management operating system will be connected to the VLAN specified by this identifier. As indicated, it has no effect on any of the virtual machines.
Internal and private networks are not required for a successful deployment and are therefore beyond the scope of this discussion.
Virtual Machine Management
With a host added, you can now manage its virtual machines. If you haven’t got any, you can use the “New Virtual Machine” wizard to create one. This process is very straightforward and will not be covered in-depth in this article.
With a host highlighted on the left, the center pane serves as a heads-up display for all the host’s virtual machines and their status. With a virtual machine highlighted, the right pane contains possible actions for both the host and the VM. These are mostly self-explanatory and you can quickly investigate the items. One that does deserve special mention is the “Reset” action. It is like hitting the Reset button on a physical computer and will not initiate a graceful shutdown. In that respect, this is also the difference between “Turn Off” and “Shut Down”; the latter is graceful, the former is not. Only use “Reset” and “Turn Off” when there are no graceful shutdown options.
The item that you’ll probably spend most of your time in is the “Settings” dialog for a virtual machine. Again, most of this is straightforward so there’s little benefit in exhaustive coverage. There are some things to note:
- Most settings cannot be changed while the virtual machine is turned on or in a saved state.
- BIOS tab: This is where you establish the boot order and whether or not NumLock is activated at boot. Note that regardless of what you set here, the state of the NumLock key isn’t always perfectly translated when using Hyper-V’s remote connection tools. This is especially notable with Windows Server 2003 virtual machines.
- Memory tab: You cannot configure dynamic memory when creating a virtual machine, so you’ll need to access those settings here.
- Hard drives: Do not move the VM’s boot drive to a SCSI controller or it will not start. Do not place a VHD containing a page file on the SCSI chain or it will never be used.
- Network adapters: Only use a Legacy adapter if you need network-boot capabilities or if the guest operating system does not support Integration Components.
- Integration services: If you are virtualizing a domain controller and the Hyper-V host is a domain member, you’ll probably want to disable Time Synchronization for that virtual machine. This is because domain controllers usually establish themselves as authoritative time sources so the Hyper-V host will be trying to synchronize itself against a domain controller that is in turn trying to synchronize from the Hyper-V host. The end result is that your entire domain is basing its authoritative time from the hardware clock in the Hyper-V host. If you have multiple virtualized domain controllers on different Hyper-V hosts, this can cause problems. There are ways to configure this to avoid drift, but it’s generally easier to disable synchronization and follow Microsoft’s instructions on setting up your domain controller to synchronize from an external time source.
If you tell Hyper-V Manager to take a snapshot of a virtual machine, it happens instantly without verification. Since you have to shut off a virtual machine in order to merge snapshots, keep this in mind, although you can cancel the snapshot creation if you catch it quickly enough (just right-click a virtual machine that is creating a snapshot and there will be a menu item).
Differences Between Hyper-V Manager and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2
Organizations with more than a few virtual machines on a single host will probably want to utilize SCVMM 2008 R2 or newer. Through the 2008 R2 version, this is a standalone piece of software intended specifically for managing Hyper-V virtual machines. It adds a great deal of functionality beyond Hyper-V Manager, but it does not replace it. Here are the major differences where the two products have overlapping functionality:
- It adds no software to your Hyper-V deployment. SCVMM will install an agent on your host(s).
- It has no paid licensing requirements at all.
- It maintains almost real-time updates of what’s happening on your host while SCVMM is delayed by several minutes. So, if a virtual machine is in a blue screen reboot loop, you’ll need Hyper-V Manager to successfully stop it.
- It processes the Hyper-V host’s configuration by direct communication. SCVMM leverages a database to track configurations (and a great many other things), so it is a much “heavier” program. As such, it requires a Windows Server that can run its management component and a SQL Server Express instance.
- The VM connection tool allows you to connect to a virtual machine even if it’s off. SCVMM’s does not.
- Its VM connection tool gives you a specific option to insert the integration services installation CD into a running VM so you can install it manually. SCVMM only gives you an option to install the integration services to a powered-off system, although it handles the entire process for you.
- It builds new virtual machines with a SCSI controller in addition to the IDE controllers and a synthetic network adapter. These options can’t be changed during creation of the virtual machine. SCVMM builds new virtual machines without a SCSI controller and with a legacy (emulated) network adapter. These options can be changed during creation.
- It uses “snapshot” terminology while SCVMM uses “checkpoint” terminology; they are functionally identical.
- SCVMM allows you to configure ranges of VLANs that virtual switches are allowed to trunk. Hyper-V Manager can’t manage that at all. In an installation that has never had SCVMM, the virtual switches will trunk all VLANs.
- SCVMM cannot track the progress of a snapshot merge. Hyper-V Manager can.
- Deleting a VM does not delete its VHDs. Deleting it in SCVMM does.
Hyper-V Cluster Integration
Hyper-V Manager is aware of Hyper-V clusters, but it has no functionality to manage them (use Failover Cluster Manager or SCVMM for that). It cannot move virtual machines from one node to another, but if you use another tool to migrate a VM (Live or otherwise), it will indicate that it is moving. The most important thing about Hyper-V Manager’s handling of clusters is that cannot create a virtual machine in High Availability mode. Failover Cluster Manager can convert existing virtual machines to High Availability mode and it can create virtual machines in High Availability mode (as can SCVMM).
Have any questions?
Leave a comment below!
Backing up Hyper-V
If you’d like to make backing up your Hyper-V VMs easy, fast and reliable, check out Altaro Hyper-V Backup v4. It’s free for up to 2 VMs and supports Hyper-V Server 2012 R2! Need more? Download a 30-day trial of our Unlimited Edition here: http://www.altaro.com/hyper-v-backup/.