Virtual Machine Load Balancing deep-dive

Applies to: Windows Server (Semi-Annual Channel), Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2016 introduces the Virtual Machine Load Balancing feature to optimize the utilization of nodes in a Failover Cluster. This document describes how to configure and control VM Load Balancing.

Heuristics for balancing

VM Virtual Machine Load Balancing evaluates a node's load based on the following heuristics:

  1. Current memory pressure: Memory is the most common resource constraint on a Hyper-V host
  2. CPU utilization of the Node averaged over a 5 minute window: Mitigates a node in the cluster becoming over-committed

Controlling the aggressiveness of balancing

The aggressiveness of balancing based on the Memory and CPU heuristics can be configured using the by the cluster common property 'AutoBalancerLevel'. To control the aggressiveness run the following in PowerShell:

(Get-Cluster).AutoBalancerLevel = <value>
AutoBalancerLevel Aggressiveness Behavior
1 (default) Low Move when host is more than 80% loaded
2 Medium Move when host is more than 70% loaded
3 High Move when host is more than 60% loaded

Graphic of a PowerShell of configuring the aggressiveness of balancing

Controlling VM Load Balancing

VM Load Balancing is enabled by default and when load balancing occurs can be configured by the cluster common property 'AutoBalancerMode'. To control when Node Fairness balances the cluster:

Using Failover Cluster Manager:

  1. Right-click on your cluster name and select the "Properties" option
    Graphic of selecting property for cluster through Failover Cluster Manager

  2. Select the "Balancer" pane
    Graphic of selecting the balancer option through Failover Cluster Manager

Using PowerShell:

Run the following:

(Get-Cluster).AutoBalancerMode = <value>
AutoBalancerMode Behavior
0 Disabled
1 Load balance on node join
2 (default) Load balance on node join and every 30 minutes

VM Load Balancing vs. System Center Virtual Machine Manager Dynamic Optimization

The node fairness feature, provides in-box functionality, which is targeted towards deployments without System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). SCVMM Dynamic Optimization is the recommended mechanism for balancing virtual machine load in your cluster for SCVMM deployments. SCVMM automatically disables the Windows Server VM Load Balancing when Dynamic Optimization is enabled.

See Also