Tips From the Field: Hyper-V 2008 R2 Install Best Practices

I know Hyper-V 2008 R2 has been out forever, its an old product, its been “replaced” by Hyper-V 2012, etc etc. I feel compelled to write one of my brief “Tips From the Field” article though because I continually see environments where Hyper-V is in shambles, not built to best practices, etc. So for you, and for me, I wanted to put this together to capture not only some of my best practices, but where they came from and some that perhaps aren’t readily known but can make a difference. I always say, with Hyper-V the devil is in the details…and I firmly believe it to be true. One thing that always seems to bite people is the networking..so first and foremost, ensure you have fully thought through the networking requirements, redundancy at that level, VLAN tagging and segmentation of traffic, etc.

Ok..first off, lets cover the documents you should be referencing for a Hyper-V build.

Best Practices Checklist

This first one is the 2008 R2 best practice checklist from Microsoft. It cover all the high level configuration settings and optimizations that should be done to the server. It also LINKs to the documents for all the various Hyper-V Post-SP1 hot fixes and Failover Clustering hot fixes. All of these articles can be found HERE and HERE. I also install a list of patches that have come recommended to me through interactions with Microsoft’s Hyper-V support team. Although there is no article, you can find those particular hot fixes HERE and HERE on my box.net account.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfeplat/archive/2012/11/19/hyper-v-2008-r2-sp1-best-practices-in-easy-checklist-form.aspx

Networking

This next one speaks directly to best practices around the network. How many cards, what should they be set to once you’re clustered, etc. One note on this article..I almost always without fail ride heartbeat and CSV together..this this particular article separates everything. Also pay particular attention to the different networks bandwidth (and latency) requirements.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/gavinmcshera/archive/2011/03/27/3416313.aspx

NIC Settings

This next one details the specific NIC settings. The only thing I would point out on this one is there is an error in his article..or rather perhaps it isn’t written clearly. Most people ride heartbeat and CSV together (as do I). He doesn’t show a separate CSV breakout on this chart..only Heartbeat. If you ride CSV and Heartbeat together you HAVE to leave Client for Microsoft Networks enabled and File and Print Sharing enabled, if you don’t it will not work. IF you do breakout heartbeat and CSV, you can follow his guide for the Heartbeat link and just be sure you leave them on for CSV.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/schadinio/archive/2010/11/06/virtualization-network-card-settings-for-hyper-v-cluster.aspx

Hardware Optimization

Last article here..don’t forget the hardware. In this article the author outlines the issue with CPU power states and some recommended settings to check. I would say this isn’t a hard and fast rule..you need to see how your environment looks and if it’s not as zippy as you think this would definitely be one spot to look.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/virtualpfe/archive/2012/09/14/hyper-v-and-bios-power-plans-c-states.aspx

Additional best practice guidelines I recommend:

Disable VMQ on VMNet adapter. Explanation of what VMQ is HERE.

If you are having issues with your VMNet adapter, try disabling the advanced Offloading functionality of the NIC and see if that makes a difference.

Do not install teaming software (HP Network Configuration Utility) etc during SmartStart or automated hardware vendor install. If you can, do a custom install and select what is installed, deselect that.

Order of installation: Update all drivers to latest, THEN enable Hyper-V, THEN install teaming software.

Disable the option to allow the computer to “Turn off this device to save power” setting on NICs

Get a proper cluster validation report and MATCH your patch levels. Not only because its right, but because Microsoft won’t support a cluster that hasn’t been validated.

Do not auto patch your hyper-v servers. Baby them, and keep them identical.

Thats all. I hope this helps someone out there..please leave a comment if it helped you, or you have any questions!

Happy Hyper-V’ing.

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