Analyzing system capacity and performance requires a
handful of tools and the knowledge to use them properly to obtain
valuable data. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes several tools to assist
with this initiative, and even more are available for download or
Microsoft. In addition, several other companies also have performance
and capacity-analysis solutions available. Some of these tools are even
capable of forecasting system capacity, depending on the amount of
information they are given.
A number of sizing tools
exist from various companies. A sizing tool takes data relative to the
networking environment and returns recommended hardware configurations,
usually in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or similar reporting
application. An example of one such tool is the Microsoft Assessment and
Planning (MAP) Toolkit for Windows Server 2008 R2. This tool, available
for download from Microsoft at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/solutionaccelerators/dd537573.aspx,
assists you when planning your migration to Windows Server 2008 R2 by
creating an inventory of your current server infrastructure; therefore,
you can determine hardware and device compatibility and Windows Server
2008 R2 readiness.
Another free tool
offered from Microsoft is the Virtualization Solution Accelerators. For
example, the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit for Hyper-V
can be leveraged to accelerate your migration to Hyper-V on Windows
Server 2008 R2 by identifying underutilized servers within your
infrastructure, which can be potential virtualization candidates.
Microsoft also offers
several useful utilities that are either inherent to Windows Server 2008
R2 or are sold as separate products. Some of these utilities are
included with the operating system, such as Task Manager, Network
Monitor, Performance Monitor, and the enhanced Event Viewer. Data that
is collected from these applications can be exported to other
applications, such as Excel or Microsoft Access, for inventory and
analysis. Other Microsoft utilities like System Center Configuration
Manager (SCCM) and System Center Operations Manager (OpsMgr) can also be
used; however, they are sold separately.
The Windows Server 2008 R2
Task Manager is similar to its Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server
2003 predecessors in that it offers multifaceted functionality. You can
view and monitor processor, memory, application, network, services,
user, and process-related information in real time for a given system.
This utility is a well-known favorite among IT personnel and is great
for getting a quick view of key system health indicators with the lowest
To begin using Task Manager, use any of the following methods:
- Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc.
- Right-click on the taskbar and select Start Task Manager.
- Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and then click Start Task Manager.
When you start Task Manager, you’ll see a screen similar to that shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Services tab in the Windows Server 2008 R2 Task Manager.
The Task Manager window contains the following six tabs:
Applications— This tab lists the applications that are currently running. You can start and end applications from this tab.
On this tab, you can find performance metric information of the
processes currently running on the system. Sorting the processes by CPU
or memory usage will reveal which processes are consuming the most
Services— A recent addition to Windows is the Services tab in Task Manager. As shown in Figure 1,
administrators can now see what services are running without having to
load Computer Management or the Services Management Console
This tab can be a graphical or tabular representation of key system
parameters such as kernel usage, paging, CPU cycles, and more—in real
This tab displays the network traffic coming to and from the machine.
The displayed network usage metric is a percentage of total available
network capacity for a particular adapter.
Users— This tab displays users who are currently logged on to the system.
In addition to the Task
Manager tabs, the Task Manager is, by default, configured with a status
bar at the bottom of the window. This status bar, shown in Figure 2, displays the number of running processes, CPU utilization percentage, and the amount of memory currently being used.
Figure 2. Windows Server 2008 R2 Task Manager status bar.
As you can see, Task
Manager presents a variety of valuable real-time performance
information. This tool is particularly useful for determining what
processes or applications are problematic and gives you an overall
picture of system health with quick access to terminate applications and
processes, or identify potential bottlenecks.
There are limitations,
however, which prevent it from becoming a useful tool for long-term or
historical analysis. For example, Task Manager can’t store collected
performance information for future analysis and viewing; it is capable
of monitoring only certain aspects of the system’s health, and the
information that is displayed pertains only to the local machine. For
these reasons alone, Task Manager doesn’t make a prime candidate for