Looking at 5nine Manager for Hyper-V

This has been on my “to do” list for a while now – but I have finally got around to checking out the 5nine Manager for Hyper-V (http://5nine.com/5nine-manager-for-hyper-v.aspx).

If you are unaware of this product – it is a management solution that is basically designed to replace the Hyper-V management tools that ship with Windows.  One big advantage though – is that the 5nine Manager can be run on Windows Server core installations (unlike our tools).

You can download a free-but-limited version of the tools or, after trying out a trial, pay $119 for the full version.  I tried out both – but will talk about the full version first.

I setup a core installation of Hyper-V and installed the tools – which was quick and easy.  They even offered to enable (the required) .Net features for me automatically.

For the most part these tools let you do pretty much everything that you would expect.  You can create and manage virtual machines, interact with them and change their settings.  You can also manage virtual hard disks and virtual networks:

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One feature that I found particularly useful was the performance view:

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Which gave you quick access to some fairly detailed information about what was happening inside the virtual machine.  Given all this, I would have no qualms with recommending the full version for managing a server core installation locally.  But what about the free version?  Well, unsurprisingly, it is a lot less capable.

You essentially get the same user interface – only now you cannot:

  • Interact with the virtual machine (you can see a thumbnail of the desktop – but you cannot send keystrokes / mouse commands)
  • Change any virtual machine settings

That said, you can still:

  • See the state of virtual machines
  • Read the virtual machine settings
  • Start / stop virtual machines
  • See performance information
  • Configure virtual networks / virtual hard disks

In my mind this makes the free version a great “rescue tool”.  You are not going to be able to use it for day-to-day management of Hyper-V – but if you were using the built in management tools from a remote computer, and hit a problem with remote management,  the free 5nine Hyper-V manager would be a handy tool to have to let you take corrective action.

Either way – if you are a heavy user of core installations of Hyper-V (or of the free Hyper-V server) it is well worth your time to have a look at this tool.