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Five Virtualization Best Practices

Understand the challenges and implement the associated best practices

As our reliance on effective data centers continues to grow, we run into more and more issues that must be addressed to ensure security and availability. We've been turning to virtualization solutions for some time now, and many organizations have come to believe that it is the cure-all that will save them money and reduce the level of complexity. However, virtualization isn't a plug-n-play kind of thing. You can't just set it and forget it, because if it isn't done exactly right, you will only shift the costs and complexities rather than eliminate them.

In order to get the most value out of the data center, it is important to understand the challenges and implement the associated best practices. As the number of business applications and volume of data continues to increase, data centers need solutions like virtualization to remain profitable - but simply installing the solution isn't enough. You need to make sure that everything you do will contribute to a more efficient and effective organization.

1. Know Your Environment Beforehand
You need to have a clear understanding of your IT assets and how they are used within the organization. It is equally important to track who is using them and how often. Take the time to research the server activity and get the hard numbers related to its usage. Anecdotal evidence that the "servers are running slowly" isn't good enough to turn to virtualization. Track usage statistics and you won't have to buy servers and storage devices that you don't actually need. For more tips like these, visit

2. Double-Check Hardware Compatibility
Your hardware and virtualization software must be completely compatible to ensure an effective transition. If there are components that don't work with your software, or if some of them simply don't run fast enough anymore, you may create bottlenecks or failures in the system. Double-check everything (including mobile devices) for compatibility before you start installing the new solution.

3. Standardization
Virtualization opens the door to a lot of unproductive elements. Virtual machine proliferation can be a serious problem because there are several hypervisors that are completely free and it's so easy to just clone a guest. This can increase security problems and make the entire system harder to manage. The key is to standardize processes, centralize storage, and make sure the entire organization understands the necessary requirements and adheres strictly to them.

4. Virtualization Training
While it is true that virtualization has become very common in many industries, it is still a new concept to many organizations. Take the time to make sure the staff is properly trained on the new systems and understand exactly what virtualization means to the company. Set goals for performance, learn to prioritize management and patching updates, and learn the difference between bottlenecks and different system roles.

5. Backup and Backup Again
In some ways, virtual servers still need to be treated like their physical counterparts. This is to say that any data on them is just as vulnerable to harmful events that could destroy or otherwise make it inaccessible. Recovery measures are extremely important in virtualization, and you can back up the entire virtual machine or just the data. Either way, make sure that it is done on a regular basis.

More Stories By Brian Jensen

Brian Jensen works with Dell. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with his family. He has a passion for learning and writing about all things technology.

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