Virtual machine monitoring and security guide

This virtual machine (VM) monitoring and security guide offers technical articles and how-to advice on critical issues in virtual machine monitoring, performance and security.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
VM monitoring and troubleshooting strategies
VM monitoring and security technical advice
Tips for securing VMs

Server virtualization is no longer an abstract concept for a niche market. It's mainstream and has saved companies money on hardware costs, reduced data center footprint and power consumption and more. But as the technology becomes more mature, new challenges have arisen in the areas of virtualization performance monitoring and virtual machine security. Virtual server security breaches and VM management are central areas where virtualization adminsitrators need to be proactivve to prevent downtime and data breaches.

And no matter how large or small your IT budget, there's a tool and a virtualization strategy designed to exploit your firm's physical and virtual resources. This virtual machine (VM) monitoring and security guide offers technical articles and how-to advice on critical issues in virtual machine monitoring, performance and security.


I. VM monitoring and troubleshooting strategies

This section on virtual machine performance monitoring, examining virtualization infrastructures and virtualization management tools.

Four mistakes that can kill virtual machine performance
Even relatively minor mistakes can be virtual machine performance killers. Virtualization expert Greg Shields covers four common data center gaffes that can degrade performance in virtualized environments.

Virtualization infrastructure monitoring: Eating your veggies
Keeping up with VM monitoring tasks requires some discipline. Checking for virtual machine sprawl, security risks and bottlenecks can help safeguard against system downtime. The following article provides VM monitoring tasks, which help ensure that your virtual environment remains healthy and thriving.

Monitoring physical and virtual environments – IT best practices
Do you establish baselines to understand resource utilization, VM performance and more? Do you map guest-to host relationships? How about automate responses and dynamic reconfiguration? In this virtualization best practices guide, Anil Desai provides a checklist for monitoring physical and virtual environments that all IT departments should consider.

Third-party server virtualization management vs. platform vendors' tools
Now that VMware offers virtualization management software, system administrators have a choice between platform vendors and third-party tool sets . This panel of virtualization experts weighs in on the best approach to server virtualization management tools and software.

Server, desktop virtualization management tools: Mix at your own risk
Often, desktop and server virtualization teams coexist in the same data center. But does it make sense to streamline these operations? In this panel discussion, virtualization experts discuss the merits and liabilities of combining server and desktop virtualization management tools.

How virtualization impacts IT staff, security and change management
Server virtualization offers tangible benefits, including a reduced data center footprint and decreased power consumption. But virtualization invites problems, of course, such as virtual machine security vulnerabilities, management challenges, and new skill set requirements for virtualization administrators. This tip outlines a proactive approach to virtualization challenges such as its affects on IT staff, security vulnerabilities and the change management process.


II. VM monitoring and security technical advice

In this section, virtualization experts offer detailed VM monitoring and security tips, such as automating VHD recognition, managing permissions and change management best practices.

Using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning tool in Hyper-V environments
The Hyper-V Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) tool is unique in the virtualization market. It allows administrators to plan virtual migrations to various Microsoft platforms. Here Rick Vanover breaks down Hyper-V MAP and offers strategies on how to best exploit the application.

Good tools, practices for VM change management
Because virtual machines can be moved with a simple mouse click, a virtualization environment requires a sound change management policy is essential. In this expert response, James E. Geis details some of the leading change management tools available as well as how to implement them.

Automating VHD recognition in Microsoft Virtual Server 2005
Having to manually format VHDs for guest OSes can be a laborious process. Luckily, there are automation tools available to streamline this process. Check out Anil Desai's expert response for more information on automating VHD recognition.

Managing Hyper-V's security permissions
Securing a virtual environment can be onerous for systems administrators, but every adminhas to face the task. With Hyper-V, the default security settings may work in small data centers; but, often, administrators must grant additional permissions to those who don't require full access. In this scenario, Hyper-V's Authorization can bridge the disconnect.


III. Tips for securing VMs

There are different schools of thought on how to lock down virtual machines, including whether virtual server security issues are overblown The following articles, tips and opinions delve into the issues surrounding securing virtual environments.

Virtual machine security enters the mainstream
While the financial sector faces increasing scrutiny from regulators, banks have turned to VM security software to protect sensitive information. What's happening in the financial sector is but one example of how virtual machine security concerns have hit the mainstream.

Protecting storage networks from virtual machine security risks
Virtual machines pose additional security risks to storage networks, management appliances and hypervisors – especially when VMs access the same storage network used by virtualization hosts. In this tip, Edward L. Haletky details the different attack vectors that can arise from not separating the hypervisor from VM storage.

Virtual machine security threat level; don't believe the hype
For all the VM security products on the market, there been relatively few virtual masecurity breach? Bridget Botelho explores this question and more in her blog post about the hype and fear surrounding virtual machine security threats.

Virtual machine security plagued with operational issues
While VM security risks are low, introducing new software to any environment increases the opportunity for vulnerabilities. Compounding the problem are the operational issues that can arise during the initial deployment. This article provides some insights on how IT departments can minimize security breaches and failures associated with virtualization projects.

Securing virtual environments: Three considerations
Ultimately, the goal for any virtualization administrator is securing the entire virtual environment – not just the hypervisor. When trying to lock down any virtual environment for external threats, consider securing the virtualization administrative network, managing guest OSes and creating uniform definitions. This tip by Edward L. Haletky provides an overview of the basics.

This was first published in October 2009

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