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Hour 24. Monitoring Server Performance and Network Connections

What You’ll Learn in This Hour:

An important aspect of administering a Windows Server 2008 network is keeping tabs on the performance of the servers on your network and monitoring network traffic. Windows Server 2008 provides you with the capability of monitoring server performance using the Reliability and Performance Monitor. The Reliability and Performance Monitor snap-in includes the new Reliability Monitor and also access to the Performance Monitor, which has been an essential part of the Windows network operating system since its early incarnation in Windows NT Server.

Another tool, the Event Viewer, provides you with the capability of monitoring a number of different log files that can be used to identify problems and troubleshoot server and network issues. Windows Server 2008 also includes the Network and Sharing Center, which can provide real-time information related to your network. This includes the type of connection the server has to the network and also provides capabilities for troubleshooting connection problems. We look at all three of these tools in this hour.

Using the Reliability and Performance Monitor

The Reliability and Performance Monitor snap-in enables you to monitor server performance in real time. You can monitor hardware and application performance and create threshold alerts and performance reports. In terms of defining performance and reliability, performance describes how quickly the server completes the tasks it must accomplish. Reliability, on the other hand, is more a measure of how often the server performs exactly as you would expect in relation to its configuration.

The Reliability and Performance Monitor snap-in also provides access to the Performance Monitor, which was available in Windows Server 2003, and the new Reliability Monitor. The Performance Monitor enables you to add counters to quickly view real-time hardware information such as the percent processor time and also view information related to system services such as HTTP (on a web server).

The Reliability Monitor provides a System Stability chart that can be used to quickly view specific information about hardware, application, and Windows failures. You can click on a chart date, which runs along the x-axis of the chart and then view various system stability reports related to alerts and failures. The Reliability Monitor, which, in effect, provides some of the same type of information that you could glean from the Event Viewer, is discussed later in the hour.

Obviously, the Reliability and Performance Monitor provides a lot of potential information related to how a server is performing in terms of both hardware and software (including the operating system). What you are really trying to do when you monitor server performance is identify potential performance bottlenecks (say the CPU or the hard drive). When you measure reliability, you are looking for such things as device drivers that failed to initialize or services that had to stop and restart. Reliability often relates to the server configuration rather than hardware configuration, as performance does.

You can open the Reliability and Performance Monitor in the Server Manager (Start, Administrative Tools, Reliability and Performance Monitor). Expand the Diagnostic node and then select the Reliability and Performance node.

You can also run the Reliability and Performance Monitor snap-in in the MMC (Start, Administrative Tools, Reliability and Performance Monitor). Figure 24.1 shows the Reliability and Performance Monitor in the MMC.

Figure 24.1. The Reliability and Performance Snap-in.

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The Resource View pane of the Reliability and Performance Monitor provides you with a quick look at CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory usage on the server. Real-time counters at the top of the window show you how each of these resources is currently affected by demand on the server from such things as user access, resources served to users, and other processes running on the server that are related to the various roles you have assigned the server.

Below the Resource View graphs is the Resource View details area. By default, all the Resource details are closed and show a counter that provides the running data points that are shown in the associated graph.

You can expand each of the Resource views to view the details related to a particular resource such as the CPU resource, which measures the total percentage of CPU capacity currently in use. When you expand the CPU resource, you are in the Resource Oveview details (for CPU capacity), which provides a detail table (see Figure 24.2).

Figure 24.2. The Resource Overview details for CPU usage.

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Let’s look at each of the resources measured in the Reliability and Performance Monitor and what kind of details are provided when you look at the expanded view details for a particular resource. The Resource view provides the following information:

Obviously, the Resource view details provide a lot of information. But the key to using this information really lies in the fact that server performance can be affected in a negative way by two things: hardware problems and software problems.

The typical hardware bottlenecks for a server are the CPU, disks, network adapter (or adapters), and memory. The Reliability and Performance Monitor provides graphs for these hardware components because they can often be the reason the server is underperforming.

If the problem isn’t directly related to a hardware malfunction, the problem can be a software issue that is monopolizing one of the key server hardware components, such as the CPU or the network adapter. Having quick access to the information related to the application instance enables you to potentially identify a malfunctioning software entity.

So, although you can gain more specific real-time data using the various counters available in the Performance Monitor (discussed in the next section) and more details related to server hardware and software events that are logged in the Event Viewer (discussed later in the hour), the Reliability and Performance Monitor is definitely a quick way to survey a server’s health.

By the Way

The Reliability Monitor, a new tool provided by the Reliability and Performance Monitor snap-in, provides a system stability chart that enables you to view events related to software, application, and hardware failures. It provides quick access to “bad” events in a timeline, making it a useful addition to server troubleshooting, particularly when used with Event Viewer data. The Reliability Monitor is discussed later in this hour.

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