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Editors pick best virtualization techniques and management strategies

Take a look at our list of the best tips of 2012 for virtualization techniques, new technologies and virtual infrastructure management strategies.

This year's trends in virtualization techniques showed a bigger push toward the cloud, more product integration, an increase in multi-hypervisor management and scalable virtualization strategies. The release of Microsoft's Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V gave vSphere a run for its money. We also saw VMware bow to complaints and roll back its unpopular licensing model. Many of these virtualization market changes even correspond to our December 2011 Advisory Board's predictions.

We've covered all the major virtual infrastructure management and industry trends, but as 2012 comes to a close, take a look at our editors' picks list for the best tips of the year.

1. Virtualization and hypervisor security vulnerabilities to look out for

Securing a virtual environment is just as critical as securing a physical environment, but the process is not the same. Hypervisors introduce new and often unexpected vulnerabilities and require virtualization-specific security efforts. Learning the potential points of failure in your virtual infrastructure is an essential first step in safeguarding and creating a virtual security plan.

2. The top 25 ESX commands and ESXi commands

Automating daily tasks is often the key to managing and maintaining a VMware environment, especially as the infrastructure grows. Rather than use the vSphere client graphical user interface to manage ESX hosts, admins often prefer to log into the VMware service console and use the ESX command line. Take a look at 25 of the most useful ESX and ESXi commands that not only help automate tasks, but also identify problems and performance-tune your virtual machines.

3. Choosing the right virtualization monitoring and management tools

A number of tools have hit the virtualization market of late -- both from third-party and major vendors -- to facilitate infrastructure monitoring and management. But there is no one-size-fits-all tool for every environment. Carefully weigh each option against your virtual infrastructure's specific size, capacity and needs to avoid any time-consuming mistakes and unnecessary purchases.

4. Ten easy ways to extend virtual host resources on the cheap

Increasingly, IT admins must manage complex virtual environments with smaller budgets. Because virtual host resources are the lifeblood of a virtualization project, this is not an area to make cutbacks. Fortunately, a number of virtualization strategies will extend host resources and thus promote growth without hindering performance.

5. Virtualization power management: How to save money and the Earth

Green initiatives aren't limited to the food and auto industries; saving the environment has also become a virtualization industry trend. By taking advantage of the power management capabilities built in to many of today's hypervisors, you'll save money by trimming the electric bill. In addition, you'll have a better view of total resource use, which helps you adjust for capacity and load.

6. Moving to the cloud: Tips for mature virtual data centers

Many IT shops have their sights on the cloud, and a private cloud can provide a bridge between legacy systems and new technology. Though the public cloud allows for more task automation and centralization, it also presents new security challenges. Fortunately, you can apply many familiar virtualization techniques to the public cloud. With a solid infrastructure in place, you're well on your way to an efficient cloud.

7. SMB cookbook: Whipping up a virtualization disaster recovery plan

Don't wait until a catastrophe strikes to realize backups are a poor replacement for a disaster recovery plan. Combining backups, replication and additional hardware and software makes for a more effective plan. In addition, using virtual disks and disk-based backup tools helps you avoid breaking the bank, making true virtualization disaster recovery an option for both enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses.

8. Practical uses for shared-nothing live migration

Both Microsoft and VMware introduced live migration without shared storage to the latest version of their respective virtualization platforms and have spared no expense touting this new ability. However, these migrations put additional strain on the network and are not automated. Nevertheless, they offer additional flexibility and could prove attractive to enterprise customers with multiple host clusters.

9. How to save money with application-level high availability

A highly available and fault-tolerant virtual infrastructure isn't exclusive to data centers with the biggest budgets. More vendors have engineered applications with high availability (HA) features built in, which could save you the trouble of implementing separate enterprise-level HA tools. Using application-level HA could give you the same benefits without breaking the bank.

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