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Windows Server 2003 Server Performance Advisor (SPA)

Daniel Petri

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[incl/incl/digg.htm]Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Server Performance Advisor (or SPA for short) is a simple but robust tool that helps administrators diagnose the root causes of performance problems in a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 deployment. Actually, SPA is in fact a cool network monitor and performance monitor wrapped into one package so that you can correlate which clients might be causing load on your system.

Server Performance Advisor collects performance data and generates comprehensive diagnostic reports that give you the data to easily analyze problems and develop corrective actions. Windows Server 2003 Performance Advisor provides several specialized reports, including a System Overview (focusing on CPU usage, Memory usage, busy files, busy TCP clients, top CPU consumers) and reports for server roles such as Active Directory, Internet Information System (IIS), DNS, Terminal Services, SQL, print spooler, and others.
 
SPA has many useful templates. There are templates for System Overview, AD, print servers, terminal servers, and so on. Each one of these templates focuses on a specific role and collects different counters depending on the role selected. For example, on a DC SPA will capture the Directory Services counters and then analyze the output from those counter and flag issues it finds for follow-up.
To download SPA please follow the link below.
To install SPA (on Windows Server 2003 SP1 or above computers) just double-click MSI file and leave the defaults.

Some cool things about SPA

  • It’s XML based, so the reports that are collected get organized by date and/or by server, so you can drill down on a particular server. This makes it easy to navigate to the right server report and date that you are looking for.
  • You can setup SPA on your servers in “Data” mode, and then setup a member server as a SPA “reporting” server, then you can schedule your servers to collect at a certain time and send that data to the reporting server. You can also have SPA (with version 2.0) take the data from those servers and put it in a SQL database for trending purposes.
  • SPA’s usefulness has made Microsoft built it right into Vista and Windows Server 2008 (Data Collection Sets)

Note: SPA is CPU intensive when it compiles a report, so if the system is already running at 100%, its best to compile the report off the system.

Running SPA

You can run SPA from the shortcut icon in the Start menu:
 
You can select the type of report you want to collect and generate. For example, you can choose the System Overview report. Let the tool collect the required information, and then it should begin to generate a report. This might take a few minutes.


 
You can also run SPA by using the SPACMD command from the “Program File\Server Performance Advisor” folder:

​Microsoft spacmd.exe (2.0.67.1)
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
spacmd is used to control "Server Performance Advisor" from the command line.
Usage:
manager  [option]
Verbs:
 start  Start the data collector or data collector group now.
 stop  Stop the data collector or data collector group now.
 query [collector|group] Retrieve the settings for the data collector or data collector group.
 load [collector|group] Update settings from a specified template file.
 delete  Delete the specified data collector or data collector group.
 scan  Check the specified directory for existing data sets.
 compile [group] Run the compiler for the specified data collector group.
 help Displays help.
Options:
 -t  Use the specified xml file to load or save settings.
 -? Displays help.
Examples:
 spacmd query "Active Directory" -t "template.xml"
 spacmd delete *
 spacmd load -t "template.xml"
 spacmd start act*

For example, in order to generate a system overview report run

​spacmd start "system overview"

To stop the stop the collection type:

​spacmd stop "system overview"

At this point you should see a new folder under c:\perflogs with the server name and a few files underneath that.
In order to compile the data you captured into a report type:

​spacmd compile "system overview"

Once this is complete, you should see the report in the reports directory.

Analyzing the SPA report

The first part of the report is a summary, and links to other sections pertaining to CPU, Network, Disk, and Memory. Below that is any performance advisories that SPA flagged for you and then how each of the components were doing. In the first JPG below, on the right there is a little help icon that will open a .chm file with further steps you can take to narrow down the issue.
Links
Download Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Performance Advisor
Download Windows Server 2003 Performance Advisor Management Pack for Microsoft Operations Manager 2005
Brad Rutkowski’s Blog: Great tool for Windows 2003: Server Performance Advisor (SPA)

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