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Virtualization implementations and optimization guide

This guide to virtualization implementations covers security strategies, storage infrastructures, hypervisor choice, virtualization optimization and more.

The popularity of server virtualization technology has reached a point where virtualization implementations are now present in data centers of all sizes. To keep pace with the demands and problems that occur in a wide variety of data centers and virtual environments, server virtualization technology continues to change, adapt and grow.

This virtualization optimization and implementation guide covers important topics for IT professionals and virtualization administrators, such as virtualization hypervisors, security strategies, storage infrastructures and more. These tips and strategies from our Introduction to Virtualization e-book can be applied to any data center no matter the size, virtualization deployment stage or level of IT staff expertise.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Combining virtualization technology with disaster recovery 
Server virtualization optimization 
Server virtualization test and development procedures
Creating high-availability virtual infrastructures 
Virtualization's effect on storage infrastructures
Virtual environment security strategies 
Selecting the best hypervisor technology for your data center environment 

 Combining virtualization technology with disaster recovery 
Server virtualization can help create a disaster recovery solution for a data center. Learn how to ensure uptime and protect your data with server virtualization. And find out how the technology can help you devise an off-site disaster recovery strategy.

Using virtual servers for disaster recovery: The pros and cons
Learn how to incorporate virtualization technology in disaster recovery plans and procedures. Some benefits include server consolidation, flexibility, and live migration of storage and virtual machine (VM) workloads to remote sites running different hardware. But there are downsides, such as increased administrative and network complexity.

Virtualization disaster recovery best practices
Before you can integrate a disaster recovery strategy with virtualization technology, you need to consider several factors. Careful scrutiny of network, server, storage and software limitations is imperative for disaster recovery success. In this article, learn disaster recovery best practices to guarantee solid networking and hardware performance.

Differences between physical and virtual data migrations
Adding virtualization strategies to disaster recovery plans has numerous implications. The most obvious complication for virtualization administrators is learning the various data migrations associated with VMs and server hardware. This article covers the difference between physical and virtual data migrations to ensure virtual machine migration success.

Ease disaster recovery operations, save money with server consolidation
Virtualization products allow firms to dramatically reduce data center costs by reducing power, hardware and floor space requirements. Further, it allows virtualization administrators to quickly re-deploy, rebuild or restore VM data from a snapshot. In this article, learn how a Pennsylvanian realty company expected to save $60,000 a year by virtualizing half its server infrastructure.

Virtual storage access methods for improved disaster recovery
Virtual storage access methods and tools facilitate storage flexibility and nondisruptive migration. But there are numerous virtual storage approaches available. Find out which virtual storage access method and tools will help your firm's disaster recovery implementation.


Server virtualization optimization
Most data center servers are underutilized, running at 5% to 10% of their computing capacity. Server virtualization can combat lackluster physical server performance by allowing numerous VMs to co-exist on the same hardware. Learn about server virtualization optimization, and how to factor in server management and performance in a server consolidation project.

Server virtualization project breathes new life into 'shelfware'
Server virtualization projects can be an expensive endeavor, costing $30 million-plus for a Michigan temporary employment placement agency. In a little more than a year after the virtualization consolidation project began, however, the firm retireds 50 of its 269 servers, while improving its AC power situation. In this article, learn how virtualization projects can economize power and cooling for a longer server hardware shelfware life.

Create a server consolidation plan to avoid sprawl
Because server virtualization allows quick and easy VM provisioning, numerous problems can arise -- such as VM sprawl, software licensing violations and maintenance difficulties. The best way to manage these virtual machine problems is to have a clearly defined server virtualization consolidation plan. Find out how to draw up a consolidation plan and how to protect against hardware failure.

Right-sizing enterprise VM allocation
The goal of server consolidation is to leverage unused computing power. But the key is to find the correct VM consolidation ratio so that the system performance and user experience don't suffer. While there is no single recipe for enterprise VM allocation ratios, here are some ways to manage and monitor VM resource needs.

Virtual server performance improves with resource throttling
In any virtualization environment virtual server performance problems are bound to emerge. One way to address virtualization performance issues is through resource throttling. Another optimization option is identify elevated resource usage through virtual server performance tests.


 Server virtualization test and development procedures
As enterprises move forward with server consolidation projects for development environments, these data center implementations are useful for testing and training. In this section, learn about the benefits of consolidating volatile IT environments, including test and development labs. Also, learn about the licensing issues to consider when building virtualized environments.

Test and development virtualization on a budget
Virtualizing volatile IT environments, such as test and development labs, is a relatively simple operation. It doesn't have to be costly either, because current physical server hardware offers a cost savings in terms of dollars for processing power over previous generations. This tip provides step-by-step instructions for ensuring a painless, cost-effective virtualized environment implementation.

Virtual server consolidation for test and development environments
IT professionals and developers require constant access to complex technologies, such as directory services, email services, databases and Web servers for test and development purposes. Virtual server consolidation projects can reduce the resources necessary to support and maintain these services. Learn how virtual server consolidation can decrease your organization's carbon footprint while maintaining consistency in your virtual environment.

When outsourcing, virtualization support can be a problem
When building test and development labs in a virtualized environment, obstacles are inevitable. For one Michigan automotive parts supplier, virtualization caused contractual problems with its outsourcing partners. Read how it overcame the challenges of mixing outsourcing and virtualization.

Beyond a basic virtual test and development lab
Sophisticated test and development labs may require additional VMs, storage and other resources. While some of these add-ons can be expensive, they don't automatically have to cost additional money. Discover how to expand a virtualization project, navigate through licensing issues and select the right monitoring tools when building a permanent laboratory


Creating high-availability virtual infrastructures
Unexpected software bugs or physical server failures can cripple every VM on a platform. Having a high-availability (HA) strategy in place can keep workloads running and available to users when trouble threatens mission-critical VMs. This section covers how to choose the best high-availability strategy for a data center, the differences between high availability and live migration and preparing a virtual high-availability infrastructure.

Which high-availability strategy is best for your VMs?
A high-availability environment can keep business-critical workloads online during unexpected failures. There are three principal high availability strategies for VMs: host clusters, guest failover clusters and network load-balancing clusters. This tip describes each approach to help you decide which is best for your organization.

High-availability pitfalls in virtual environments
The benefits of a high-availability virtual environment are fairly obvious, but there are potential pitfalls as well. Having capable hardware and diligent resource monitoring are necessary for a successful high-availability implementation. Learn more about these drawbacks and other high-availability deployment risks.

Three methods to make virtual machines highly available
For the availability of a virtualization environment, it's important to develop different ways to protect production workloads. The best approach, however, is a combination of various methods. In this tip, find out three techniques for making virtual machine workloads highly available.


 Virtualization's effect on storage infrastructures 
Server virtualization technologies can directly affect storage infrastructures. While virtualization can improve storage efficiency, management and migration, it also creates tradeoffs. This section covers the potential benefits and drawbacks of storage virtualization as well as storage best practices and emerging storage virtualization trends.

Storage area networks vs. network-area storage for virtual storage
Storage area networks (SANs) and network-attached storage (NAS) are both viable in a virtual environment. Each setup poses strengths and weaknesses, however. In this tip, learn why many organizations virtualize only SAN storage, leaving NAS for secondary tasks.

Virtual storage area network meets backup, disaster recovery needs
Sometimes, virtual storage area network backups encounter problems that baffle the best virtual administrators. When these problems arise, it's time to call in the experts. Find out how a Montreal-based law firm solved its virtual storage area network backups problems with DataCore's SANmelody software.

Maintain virtual logical unit number reliability and performance
Storage virtualization doesn't hinder the ability to resize logical unit numbers (LUNs), but dynamic re-sizing often requires specialized or storage system-specific software tools. Done properly, however, creating and resizing LUNs gives storage administrators a lot of flexibility. Discover how storage-specific tools can help IT staff get the best possible performance from virtualized storage environments.

Four ways to select and manage storage virtualization
Storage virtualization consists of the following four categories: software, appliances, switch-level and array-level. To identify the right method for your virtual environment, you need to strike a balance among the factors of cost, technical complexity, performance, flexibility, ease of use and interoperability with storage types and subsystems. In this tip, find out how to select and manage the storage virtualization method that satisfies your infrastructure's needs.

What storage virtualization brings to the enterprise
Server virtualization technology directly affects storage efficiency. Through overprovisioning or neglect, unused storage resources can be "orphaned" as storage volumes increase. Learn how storage virtualization can achieve a balance among such factors as performance, management efficiency and flexibility.


Virtual environment security strategies
Security should be a top priority in virtual data centers. Whenever a new element is introduced into a virtual infrastructure, IT personnel should consider revamping existing security strategies. In this section, learn about virtual environment security concerns, ways to protect the resource pool and limiting the access of resource pool administrators.

Resource pool security procedures in a virtual infrastructure
Server virtualization technology doesn't necessary have to change security strategies. Securing the resource pool and managing who has access to it are still critical security principles. In this tip, learn how to identify people entering your secured virtual infrastructure.

Don't sacrifice secure virtualization for more functionality
Security is a main concern for healthcare providers. Securing a newly implemented virtual environment, however, adds another layer of complexity to a data center. Read how a healthcare industry software vendor was able to properly balance a secure virtual environment with regular business functionality.

Server virtualization security issues require attention to detail
Physical and virtual environment security strategies have a lot in common. The key to any secured environment -- traditional or virtual -- is attention to detail and vigilance. In this article, learn about virtual environment security risks and various protection strategies to secure your data center.


Selecting the best hypervisor technology for your data center environment
When determining the best hypervisor technology for your data center environment, numerous variables need to be considered. Now more than ever, Virtualization administrators have myriad hypervisor options -- from VMware to Microsoft to Citrix Systems to a variety of open source virtualization products. This section covers these hypervisor options and other factors in choosing a virtualization platform, such as vendor lock-in, VM licensing quotas and workload support.

Hypervisor installation: 7 features to consider first
A hypervisor installation is relatively simple, but you should consider several factors before deploying a virtualization technology. Issues such as vendor lock-in and workload support may make certain hypervisors more attractive than others. This tip outlines the steps you should take before installing a hypervisor in a data center environment.

Bare-metal hypervisors vs. hosted hypervisors
Bare-metal hypervisors are the most commonly deployed type. A hosted hypervisor, on the other hand, runs within an operating system and allows additional OSes and applications to run on top of it. Learn about the pros and cons of bare-metal and hosted hypervisors before deploying a virtual environment in your data center.

Hypervisor technology: Out of the lab and into production
Even seasoned IT veterans encounter hypervisor problems at times. This server virtualization technology, however, is essential to any dynamic data center -- and well worth the trouble. Learn how to achieve desirable levels of server consolidation through server virtualization while supporting application streaming to clients.

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