Using hardware resources to maximize virtualization performance

In today’s data center, IT administrators need their feet firmly planted in both the virtual and physical world. The advantages of virtualization — energy efficiency, adding space to cramped server rooms, workload flexibility — are clear. While modern hypervisors make creating multiple virtual machines on a single server a straightforward process, how do you avoid the big hurdles to maximize virtualization performance? This guide shares the tips from our experts that every IT professional should heed when making the virtual leap.

Table of contents:

Tips for capacity management and growing virtual deployments

How does a data center administrator allocate the correct amount of hardware resources when creating a VM? Assigning too many hardware resources is wasteful, while assigning too little can starve a VM, resulting in poor virtualization performance. The proper assessment of computing needs and careful ongoing management can ensure adequate performance with the optimum number of VMs. Administrators must avoid excessive or uncontrolled VM deployment otherwise physical servers and important VMs will tussle for inadequate computing resources and increase the administrative workload to unsustainable levels.

Preventing virtual resource oversubscription with capacity management
Too much of something can sometimes be a bad thing; packing too many VMs on a server can lead to resource oversubscription. This tip diagnoses the symptoms of an overtaxed server and the capacity management strategies to help prevent it.

Managing virtual data center growth and virtualization challenges
Virtualization lets data centers breathe by reducing the need for more physical hardware. Despite this advantage, virtual data center growth does present some difficulties. Allocating the correct resources to VMs can be a confusing and time-consuming process. But, with careful testing, planning and management, virtualization can allow a data center to scale smoothly. In this tip, learn how to overcome the problems that arise with some virtualization technologies.

Time to consider multiple hypervisors?
As organizations rely more on virtualized workloads, more companies will eye a second hypervisor to reduce costs, add more features or just avoid vendor lock-in. While an additional hypervisor may aid virtualization expansion in the enterprise, managing two hypervisors is not without its challenges. In this two-part series, see what advantages multiple hypervisors can offer and how to properly test and deploy a second hypervisor.

Virtual machine sprawl management to rein in stray VMs
While VMs are easy to create, many administrators forget to remove them after they’ve outlived their usefulness. This leads to VM sprawl – a resource drain that can cripple your data center. Regular maintenance and tracking prevents this problem but there are tools that can help. In this tip, combat sprawl by using the right management tools to rein in stray VMs.

Virtualization performance and network considerations

There are many benefits to virtualization. However, those improvements also come with a price: Virtualization puts a serious strain on server hardware and network infrastructure. The flood of I/O traffic generated by multiple VMs can overwhelm older physical servers and traditional network hardware. Host servers can buckle or VMs may starve due to limited resources. Fortunately, network hardware and management tools have evolved to help administrators remove these bottlenecks. Follow these tips to improve host server performance and manage network infrastructure with virtualization in mind.

Monitoring and optimizing host server performance
The role of virtualization has changed from a strategy to maximize under-used servers to the virtualization of entire data centers with dynamic workloads and failover capabilities. Making sure your host servers can handle the high demands of a live environment is critical. This tip shares the best practices for provisioning hardware resources and selecting an operating system to improve host server performance.

Preparing for network virtualization
Virtualization can also bring great benefits to the network that connects an organization’s servers and storage. Network virtualization has grown in popularity due to its ability to overcome the traditional limitations of physical network hardware. However, network virtualization may demand LAN upgrades and configuration changes to achieve optimal virtualization performance. In this tip, see why many data center managers are moving to network virtualization while others are staying put.

Increasing network bandwidth available to virtual machines
Packing several VMs on a physical server maximizes available hardware and improves overall efficiency, but there’s only so much network traffic a single physical box can handle. Multiple VMs can share a network interface card, but bandwidth limitations remain. These tips on increasing the amount of network bandwidth available to your VMs, including virtual network creation, can reduce network traffic congestion and potentially increase a host server's VM density. 

SAN technology considerations for data center virtualization
While storage area networks (SANs) are key in a virtualization rollout, problems can arise when an initial SAN deployment plan is flawed. Failing to budget for licensing and replication costs can stall a project, and implementing a SAN without first choosing the right management tools can lead to problems. Learn from the mistakes one company made and don’t overlook SAN technology considerations.

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