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Microsoft Nano Server, VMware VSAN and others stand out in 2015

From the container revolution to new solutions for common virtual machine problems, the server virtualization market continues to thrive. Join us as we look back at these top tips from 2015.

January may be just around the corner and 2015 quickly coming to a close, but the world of server virtualization remains a hotbed of activity. Within the past year we've witnessed a veritable container revolution, with software giants VMware and Microsoft leading the charge and breathing new life into formerly outdated technology with platforms such as vSphere Integrated Containers and Nano Server.

Despite the fervor surrounding container-based virtualization, the vast majority of IT admins remain focused on managing and maintaining tried-and-true traditional VMs. Major virtualization companies have responded accordingly, working to meet the demand for updates to pre-existing technology and to find new solutions to common problems. VMware was mindful to play both sides of the field, rolling out improvements to vRealize and an update to VSAN at VMworld 2015 along with its fleet of container-based software.

With so many announcements and advancements, it can be tough to keep things straight, so check out these top five server virtualization tips to catch up on the big news of 2015 and learn some new tips to help manage your environment next year.

The top 25 VMware ESXi commands

VCenter Server may be the definitive control center for VMware environments, but it's not always readily available to users. Connecting to a direct host with the vSphere Client can work in a pinch, but the client comes with its own limitations, particularly the fact that it's only compatible with Windows OS. VMware's new vSphere Web Client seeks to remedy some of the issues attributed to its predecessor, but there's an even simpler solution: the VMware ESXi Shell. ESXi Shell, formerly known as Tech Support Mode, is a vSphere command-line interface designed for troubleshooting when the vCenter Server fails. Although operating the ESXi Shell can be a formidable task, learning basic ESXi commands can help simplify the troubleshooting process as well as boost your resume.

Simple rules to avoid VM snapshot problems

VMware snapshots are a powerfully effective tool for restoring a VM to the point at which a failure or a system error occurred. This is accomplished by capturing a particular moment in time without interfering with what is currently occurring in memory. Unfortunately, many users make the mistake of confusing snapshots for VM backups or undos for applications, when in reality all three serve distinctly different purposes. Failing to understand these distinctions ultimately puts users and VMs at risk. So what purpose, exactly, do these functions serve? Find out how to get the most out of snapshots and avoid other pitfalls commonly associated with snapshot technology.

Much more than hype: Container virtualization brings efficiency

Some IT professionals have expressed skepticism over the purported benefits of container virtualization, and understandably so. After all, containers might be able to offer a higher level of efficiency than hypervisor-based virtualization, but how could they possibly live up to all the hype? According to IT consultant Jim O'Reilly, containers may be able to resolve the multiple OS/application stack issue and dramatically decrease costs. And he's not alone. Major studies confirm the benefits of containers over hypervisors.

Microsoft's Nano Server is shaking up containers

In March of 2015, news of Microsoft Nano Server, the "nucleus of next-gen cloud infrastructure and applications," leaked online. One month later, Microsoft issued an official press release confirming that Nano Server would be a stripped-down version of Windows Server designed specifically for cloud applications. Since then, the IT world has eagerly anticipated its release and software publications have speculated as to how Nano Server might change container technology. With benefits including a small footprint and the ability to run on bare metal as a VM or a container, it's easy to see why IT admins are excited.

Protect your virtual infrastructure from a single point of failure

IT admins are unlikely to wax nostalgic about the days of physical only data centers any time soon, but physical data centers do have one major advantage over virtualization hosts: Single points of failure are easier to recognize. Many organizations make the mistake of relying solely on failover clustering or replication as a means of protecting against hypervisor-level failures, but this method is insufficient at preventing costly outages. In order to truly secure themselves against possible risks, organizations must assess what types of failure points exist. Although it is impossible to eliminate all single points of failure, by identifying and eradicating the greatest potential threats, organizations should be able to sleep at night knowing their virtualization hosts are safe.

Next Steps

Top choices for virtual machine backup

Microsoft debuts Nano Server for cloud applications

Which command-line interface reigns supreme?

This was last published in December 2015

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