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HYPER-V Performance Tuning for a Virtualized Windows 2000 Sp4 Server Within SBS2008r2

Posted on 2011-09-12
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I have recently virtualized a Windows Server 2000 SP4 (W2K) using HYPER-V within SBS2008r (W2K8) due to a need to keep a legacy system running with Windows98 Clients (W98).

I of course initially tried to run the Win98Clients with the SBS2008r2 however all attempts failed between the combination of all available information to overcome that issue and some personal input from friends, internet engineers, and even some here on Experts Exchange.

Now the issue has become, the performance between the W98 and W2K server.  I have over the years managed to make numerous adjustments to increase the performance between the client and server which seem to have been undone by the virtualization.

The primary focus here is a production and accounting system which are written in DOS Based FoxPro and what happens, when running large reports, it can take 20-30 minutes to complete whereas before the virtualization we were around 5 minutes.

This is NOT a client/server app, the files reside on the server, in a folder, there are no processes running on the server, and the clients perform all the work.

The performance issue is clearly 'over the network' and i'm sure it has something to do with how the program, within the client looks up data in the various database files, combines the results, to a visible and or printable report.

There is no visible load or performance issue noted on the W2K or W2K8 server.

The W2K8 server is running a Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor E5606 (2.13GHz, 4M L3 Cache, 80 Watts),
with 6G 10K RAID1 Hard Drives.

There is essentially no load on the Native Hardware or W2K8, the majority of the work and processing is happening on the Virtual or W2K side.

I need to see what tips and tricks we might have for improving the network performance and priority to/from the virtual machine.

Thank you and please advise,

JOe
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Question by:alpine_1
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36525993
The server has has 28GB of ram, the W2K server has 4098 made available to it, there is a static paging file of 44GB also on the C_Drive.  10GB of memory is the current maximum amount of memory in use, and about 10GB of the paging file appears to be the max there.

DISK I/O on both servers "appears low" and almost never remains high for more than a brief moment and does not experience frequent/ongoing spikes in HIGH DISK I/O.
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36526000
The W2K Server has a static file of 4095 made available to it on it's c_drive.
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Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 36526003
To clarify, you enabled the hyper-v role ON SBS? Or are you running SBS and win2k as guests?

-Cliff
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36526380
Enabled Hyper-V on SBS
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Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 36526423
That is your issue. SBS cannot be a a hyper-v host and attempting to do so results in many problems, the LEAST of which is performance related.

-Cliff
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Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 36526432
FYI, MS's official statement that SBS as a parent is unsupported:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd239205(v=WS.10).aspx

-Cliff
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36531095
Thank you for that note, within the same document:


Windows SBS 2008 supports installation on a Hyper-V child partition. However, before you install additional guest operating systems or other software, you should ensure that the software is supported to run in a Hyper-V environment. For a list of Microsoft server software and supported virtualization environments, see Knowledge Base article 957006 at the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=129503).


Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 4 (understanding *NEW* support for W2k Ended july 2010)

Allows For:
Drivers: IDE, networking, video, and mouse
Services: operating system shutdown, time synchronization, data exchange, and heartbeat.

The guest OS isn't supported for the features allowed within a PARENT partition, and I knew that going in.

This doesn't mean there isn't anything that can be done to tweak/improve performance, does it?

Thank you and please advise,

Joe
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 36531708
>>"Windows SBS 2008 supports installation on a Hyper-V child partition."
As you quoted; supported on a child partition not a parent.
SBS is not supported or licensed as a Hyper-V host /parent. As Cliff stated it causes numerous issues and most are networking related such as breaking DHCP, and network configuration wizards. You cannot have SBS run properly as it should with Hyper-V enabled, so I see no reason to think you can "tweak" it.
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Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 36531918
Unfortunately because of how hyper-v works (or any hypervisor) and the roles SBS needs and the heavy tax, no you cannot tweak it, nor do I know why you would want tol actively running a configuration that is known to be broken, is completely unsupported, and could therefore be completely deadnwith any security update seems mike a very high risk to take with any production environment. A grat way to lose a job or client.

-Cliff
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36533758
Thank you for the input.

"Everything" is working, there has not been any problems other than this one area in regards to performance and is unfortunately ONLY an issue with the W98 workstations, there are far less performance issues to/from xp and/or w7.

I have since obtained various 'modifications' that can be performed to improve networking performance
to the guest OS and will be performing those, fortunately backing up and restoring this environment is easy.

As to why I am doing this, I explained it earlier.

My other choice is to run Vmware, and virtualize W2K within that so I can maintain the support necessary for the W98 clients and the legacy application.

There is no risk at losing a job, or the client, considering there isn't an alternative.
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 36533768
Try running an SBS wizard. Guarantee it will fail, and willing to bet the SBS is not your DHCP server.
Using Hyper-V and SBS and Server 2000 as guests, or using VMware is not a problem, but your configuration is fraught with problems and not licensed.
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36533827
It is entirely possible an SBS wizard will fail, fortunately I don't recall the last time I ran a wizard, I will have to run one and see what happens now that you mention it.  Any suggestions?

SBS has replaced the old Exchange Server, and has allowed me to replace archaic and dying legacy hardware and move onto newer equipment, my goal was to attempt to have W98 run natively with SBS, however as previously noted failed which forced me into the Virtualization aspect, and at that moment I didn't have the time to properly prep a Vmware environment.

You are correct DHCP is running within W2K, not that I was aware there would be a problem at that level, hwoever when I deployed the W2K server within Hyper-V, I did disable DHCP on SBS and allowed it to continue on W2K otherwise I would have encountered problems earlier on.

As far as 'fraught with problems' fraid not... perhaps less than ideal, and I surely wouldn't suggest someone do this, but it is serving it's purpose and there are other servers providing other proper needs.

'not licensed'? If you meant 'not recommended' or 'not supported' by all means, we all know that....  Life isn't always about recommendations and whether or not something is supported, sometimes it's just about 'making it work'.
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 36533856
Not licensed means you are in violation of the Microsoft licensing to which you agreed when you installed the server. Microsoft will not provide support.
Basically you have a scenario where you are asking for assistance to hack the O/S and make it work as you feel it should.
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36533945
Interesting terminology and/or perspective, the server is in fact licensed properly.  I am not asking Microsoft to support the server and/or configuration, and there is no hacking involved here.  Hacking is usually referenced when trying to circumvent protections, rights, or security and a slew of other objectives.

TWEAKING refers to taking what is there, and modifying to work in a way to provide for different means than what is was possibly originally provided for.  Like classic cars, with upgraded fuel injection...

Thanks again, i believe your assistance in this matter is no longer required.
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Accepted Solution

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Rob Williams earned 250 total points
ID: 36535579
My apologies you are quite right in that if I have nothing positive to add, I likely should not have become involved.  However, please consider that if points mean anything ( they really don't) you have the top two "experts" here, both SBS MVP's, telling you it is not supported and there are numerous networking issues doing so. My licensing reference is I do not believe SBS is licensed to run Hyper-V.  I doubt there is documentation regarding that licensing as Microsoft says do not do it, and it’s not supported. Our concern is many people have said “it works for me” and then a week or a month later are on the phone with Microsoft complaining SBS services are failing. One of the top 5 support calls to Microsoft is the result of enabling it.

For the record SBS should be your DHCP server, if not make sure all client machines point only to the SBS for DNS, and the domain suffix is added to client machines. Also older O/S's should be forced to update their DNS records. If you have DNS pointing to a router, or external DNS source, even as an alternate, you will have very slow name resolution and file transfer delays.

To try to be a little more helpful. There are a lot of network performance issues related to new advanced networking features such as Receive Side Scaling, and Task Offloading on Server 2008/2008 R2. Running the SBS BPA will usually point these out with SBS 2008 but you have SBS 2011 and its BPA so far, provides no useful information at all. That is to be updated in the coming months. You may however want to try tweaking those. I have posted comments from an older question below. You frequently mention Server 2008 R2. Just to confirm; you do have SBS 2011 and not Server 2008 R2 correct? I appreciate the underlying O/S is the same but the latter does support Hyper-V, the former does not.

------------------------------------------------------------------
There are some known issues with newer advanced NIC properties such as "Task Offloading", and “Receive-Side Scaling” which drastically affect performance and stability of file share access if enabled and especially if you are running older drivers. The following outline changing for the command line but I have found in some cases you have to do so within the advanced NIC properties for them to take effect. Any of these changes require a reboot to take effect.

To disable Receive-Side Scaling, at a command prompt, with elevated privileges, run the the following command:
netsh int tcp set global rss=disabled

To disable Task Offload, at a command prompt, with elevated privileges, run the the following command:
netsh int ip set global taskoffload=disabled

To disable Add-On Congestion Control Provider, at a command prompt, with elevated privileges, run the the following command:
netsh int tcp set global congestion=none

For more information about the TCP Chimney Offload, Receive Side Scaling, and Network Direct Memory Access features in Windows Server 2008
http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=189029

Related blog articles:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/networking/archive/2008/11/14/the-effect-of-tcp-chimney-offload-on-viewing-network-traffic.aspx
http://blogs.dirteam.com/blogs/sanderberkouwer/archive/2008/05/15/backward-compatible-networking-with-server-core.aspx
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/951037
http://msmvps.com/blogs/thenakedmvp/archive/2010/02/23/rss-tcp-offloading-strikes-again-microsoft-should-kill-this-feature-for-the-masses.aspx
http://www.petestilgoe.com/2008/01/sbs-2003-sp2-broadcom-nics-slow-network/
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Assisted Solution

by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 250 total points
ID: 36539227
All I will say is this: to say that your job is not in danger because there is no other choice is patently incorrect. The other choice is clear. Install Hyper-V or VMWare on bare metal. Migrate SBS to a guest install on that bare metal (supported) and migrate the win2k install into a guest on that bare metal (supported.) You would then have a complete and working environment.

And believe me when I say that I have seen people lose their jobs because they present things to their superiors/bosses/etc as "the only option" and when the boss seeks a second opinion and finds out that shortcuts were taken, trust is lost and people get fired.

Personally I cannot stress strongly enough how far down a rabbit hole you are going. You should take the time, do the work, and get the implementation working as designed and what will work for you in the long term, not the way that is most convenient for you in what you think *MIGHT* work in the short term. You will continue to struggle with performance and functionality issues (which you can say everything else is working "fine" all you want, but everything works fine until you run into the one necessary thing you need that doesn't) as SBS is simply not suitable to be a virtualization host. MS doesn't support it for a reason, they found legitimate issues.

As Rob mentioned, it is enough of a problem that MS support gets calls on it regularly. As SBS MVPs, we have regular contact with the SBS teams (support and developer) and hear the war stories. We don't just throw these opinions out on some one-off experience, but have them from a culmination of a vast pool of data to which we have access. When I say I can't stress this strongly enough, I *REALLY* can't. It is just bad mojo.

And, with that, I shall comment no further, as I've done what I can within what I feel is the "right" thing to do. I wouldn't help someone steal cable. I wouldn't help them move into a condemned house. And I can't, in good conscience, help someone run in an environment that I feel is knowingly detrimental to their organization because the person refuses to take the right steps to fix the problem.

Good luck,

-Cliff
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Author Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36543595
RobWill, thank you for your return response, apology accepted, no blood no foul, right?

Some of the performance items you mentioned, are amongst the notes I have gathered for items I can tweak and
that will be the attempt for this weekend while the factory is down.  Should that NOT yield sufficient performance
increases, I will be stripping and reloading the following weekend.

Also as stated on the opening post, this is running on SBS 2008 R2 not SBS 2011, I intentionally did not use 2011 as
I imagined it was going to be less forgiving/tolerant of the initial plan for this deployment.

Cliff, completely agreed and understood. As previously mentioned the planning portion of this adventure was
unfortunately skipped due to the inital 'war' with SBS2K8/W98 and in the time left to get a production
environment up and running didn't allow for it.

Also, FYI, your 'rabbit hole' comment were my words exactly, to the owner, as to the whole situation here
with the network, and not just recently.

I mentioned running Vmware Vs. Vyper-v as in my experience, and my general understanding is that Vmware is
still performing much better than hyper-v in baremetal comparisons and that is going to be the approach
on round 2.

I believe that W2k will run much better under vmware than hyper-v, and since I do not have the luxury of a 2nd server
at this time, I will have to see how SBS2k8 will do...

Thanks again
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 36543840
Could you clarify; "this is running on SBS 2008 R2 not SBS 2011, I intentionally did not use 2011"
There is no such thing as SBS 2008 R2. There is SBS 2011 built on Server 2008 R2 and SBS 2008 built on Server 2008, and you cannot upgrade 2008 to 2008 R2.  Might it be SBS 2008 SP2? All of our comments above would still apply.

>>"my general understanding is that Vmware is still performing much better than hyper-v in baremetal comparisons "
Not true, but VMware is an excellent tool as well, and management tools for it so far are better.

Your scenario of doing the above on vmware or Hyper-v as a host with SBS as a VM is fine, just not the current config.
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Author Closing Comment

by:alpine_1
ID: 36547252
it is what it is.
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Expert Comment

by:Rob Williams
ID: 36548411
Good luck with your project alpine_1, but I have to say this is a disaster waiting to happen.
Cheers!
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