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Unstable virtual environments

Expert Anil Desai gives some best practices for ensuring that your virtual environment stays stable.

What factors can lead to a virtualization environment becoming unstable? With each example, could you explain how to avoid this failure? For instance, I've heard that configuration errors are a common cause.

While I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "unstable," I can cover some best practices that can help avoid common problems with virtualization environments. First and foremost, don't let the ease of creating and deploying VMs fool you – for production purposes, it's just as important to ensure that VMs are updated with the latest security patches, that anti-malware software is installed, that backups are performed, and that they're managed like physical ones. Second, it's very common for users and systems administrators to start deploying VMs on an ad-hoc basis once virtualization is available. IT departments should reign in the creation of VMs. I highly recommend that organizations create standards and "approved images" for their virtual machines, as well as a deployment process to ensure that VMs pass some level of quality control. These basic VMs can be used as templates for new ones and should conform to the organization's policies.

From a technical standpoint, some routine maintenance such as defragmenting the host and virtual hard disk file systems can help ensure that performance remains optimal over time. Performance monitoring is also an important aspect of ongoing operations. Even if your monitoring tools don't specifically support virtualization, you can track CPU, memory, disk, and network statistics just as you would with physical computers. This will help identify problems that occur as quickly as possible.

I think you'll find that, when you employ all of these best practices, virtual environments can be at least as stable as physical ones.

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