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Improving Virtual Environments

Published on 09 February 15

Virtualizing your server hardware is a great way to get more productivity out of your hardware - after all, there is no point spending thousands on a server that works at 1% capacity when you can virtualize it and get more productivity out of it. Of course, virtualizing a server doesn’t solve every problem, and if you aren’t diligent about maintenance and updating the virtual servers within your server then it might just be throwing Band-Aids at a much larger problem. To really get the benefits out of virtualization, you need more than software from VMWare, Citrix, Microsoft, or any of the other players in the virtualization space.

Before jumping on ways to improve virtualization, let’s take a quick look at why a company might want to virtualize hardware. Traditionally, servers have run single applications, and the problem with this is that as servers have gotten bigger and more powerful over the years, many applications haven’t grown with them and are still comparatively tiny. This results in companies having massive servers running tiny applications that could probably run on machines with half the specs. Virtualization software effectively acts as an operating system that can cordon off virtual servers within the machine, making a single server act at many more. This solves the hardware problem, but it is still possible to be inefficient with resources even with virtualization in place.

The first thing to consider is how to get things into an optimal configuration to begin with. Having an IT policy where staff simply do things as they go with no records or processes in place are a great way to cause replicated efforts either at the virtualization layer or within the VMs, resulting in lowered efficiency, since the resources need to power these extra apps as well. Processes that can be automated will be that much better than detailing a process, though for certain things it might make more sense to have the human touch in place, perhaps the initial creation of a VM for a specific department in the organization.

Of course, you can’t automate what you can’t see, and you can’t really improve it either. VMWare, Citrix, and many other virtualization software providers will give you some basic tools to manage the VMs in your server, but there are much more effective ways of tracking your machine. The basic virtualization software also won’t look at how to make your solution better - it primarily cares about making it work, and that’s it, so using just the virtualization tools might work at the beginning of a virtualization project, but managing the environment needs more than what they provide. It also can’t account for VM sprawl, which is the same thing as buying more and more servers that aren’t necessarily needed, but in the virtual world. By using tools such as RMM software or capacity management tools, you can really dig in to what these servers are doing and get a better visibility on managing them.

Finally, once you have optimized your existing infrastructure, or if you have decided to go another route, you can look to cloud solution such as vnCloud by Vault Networks. Unlike physical hardware, cloud servers don’t require any hardware spend from you, so there is zero upfront large purchase involved, and cloud servers only need to be paid for when they are used. So if a cloud server is only needed during a busy season, it can be spun up and run during those months, then backed up and deleted so that it doesn't need to incur billing during the months where the machine simply doesn't need to be used.
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This blog is listed under Cloud Computing , Operating Systems and Server & Storage Management Community

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