Computer Performance, Windows Server 2008

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Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM) 2008 Version

Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM) 2008 Version

WSRM is Microsoft's cost nothing solution to improve your server's performance.  It cost's nothing to buy because it's amongst Windows Server 2008's built-in features.  And it cost's nothing for the processes or users because it only kicks-in when resources become limiting, e.g. CPU usage reaches 70%.

Topics for Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM)

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Where, and Why Use WSRM?

The killer reason to install and configure WSRM is where you have Terminal Services.  However, servers with multiple roles also benefit from WSRM.  Even on single role servers there are performance gains from creating WSRM policies that schedule server maintenance during off-peak hours. 

Tip: Seek out the scheduler, then see which programs need low priorities during working hours, for example backup.

Lastly, you could deploy Windows System Resource Manager for its accountancy features and thus learn more about how processes consume a server's resources.

Techniques and Decisions for Managing Resources

Firstly, remember that resource constraints are not enforced until resources become limiting, for example, WSRM will not lower a process's thread priority until the total CPU usage reaches 70%.

Processor
'Equal per user' or 'Equal per process' are the easiest settings to understand, configure and manage.  Other possibilities such as Processor Affinity and Percent CPU require more care and more thought of the ramifications.

One of the best uses of WSRM memory management is for Terminal Service users where one or two power users can consume 95% of the resources and make everyone else's sessions like trying to run in treacle.   With WSRM you can make sure that each user has equal share of CPU time.

Once you have decided which Resource Allocation Policy to manage, you can experiment by creating Process Matching Criteria and then assigning them a percentage of the available CPU.  As you investigate so you will see that obvious system processes are excluded from the policy restrictions. 

Also examine the 'Conditions' folder and decide if you want to change the defaults or add any more conditions.

The secret of successfully configuring the WRSM is: a) to have a plan, b) keep alternating between 'Resource Allocation Policy' and 'Process Matching Criteria' until you achieve your goals.

Learning the capabilities of the Windows System Resource Manager re-enforces the idea that managing Terminal Services users is the principle use of this utility.  Indeed the Equal Per User setting makes most sense for servers with the Terminal Services role.

Memory
My best advice is avoid using memory and manage your server by setting the above processor constraints.  If you must use memory, then research the applications working set and committed memory consumption, as these are the criteria that Windows System Resource Manager uses to constrain processes.  Be prepared to monitor the applications closely, and re-assign limits based on practical experience.

Recap

With Microsoft's WSRM, you create policies to allocate the CPU and memory resources that applications and services consume.  A resource allocation consists of matching a process with one or more of the following: an associated CPU, a memory limit, or a processor affinity. 

If a process exceeds its resource allocation, the WSRM service reduces the resource usage of the process back to your target, for example by dynamically adjusting the CPU priority for that process.

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How To Install Windows System Resource Manager

Fast-track Overview:
Click on the Start 'Globe', Server Manager, Customize Server, Add features, WSRMWindows System Resource Manager (WSRM) 2008 Version

Getting started details:
WSRM is a feature of Microsoft's Windows Server 2008.  To install extra features, call for the Server Manager.   (See diagram to the right to get started).

Scroll down until you see: 3) Customize This Server.  Next click on the link which says: Add Features.  As you scroll down to the 'W' for WSRM, observe other features that you could install on another day. 

Note in passing that you also need a dependant feature, the Windows Internal Database to store Accounting data; good news the 'Feature' installer realizes you need this extra service and installs and configures it automatically.  To digress, this intelligence may sound trivial, but I tried to install Virtual Server 2005 on Vista, and getting the dependant IIS installed and configured correctly took over an hour.

Trick: The only trick with WSRM is pointing it to a server.  While this is a trivial task, there does not seem to be a default setting of 'Local Computer'.

Once you have installed the Windows Resource Server Manager, I would run it from the Reliability and Performance MMC snap-in.  Adapting the above technique to find the Server Manager, click on the Start Globe and type Perf in the dialog box.  Then launch the Reliability and Performance snap-in.  If the WSRM is not present in the MMC GUI, click on the File menu and then choose: Add\Remove Snap-in and select WSRM.

The traditional method of launching WSRM is via, Start, Administrative Tools, Windows Resource Server Manager.

Add Roles Wizard - Windows Server 2008 WSRM

History of Windows System Resource Manager (WSRM)

We have been concentrating on the Server 2008 version of WSRM.  However, the Windows System Resource Manager joins a long list of Microsoft Products that started life as separate programs, then following successful trials, were then built-in to the next version of Windows.  Thus you can a free download of WSRM for Windows Server 2003, whereas there is no need to look further than the built-in features of Windows Server 2008.

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