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Tips To Avoid Server Virtualization Train Wrecks

Treating server virtualization as a miracle cure for your IT department's management headaches is a big mistake. And treating it as a cure-all for an IT budget crunch is a recipe for disaster.
Treating server virtualization as a miracle cure for your IT department's management headaches is a big mistake. And treating it as a cure-all for an IT budget crunch is a recipe for disaster.According to a recent CIO article, those are two common server virtualization mistakes "that could kill application performance for users": What has driven the market for virtual servers more than the potential to squeeze several servers worth of performance out of just one physical server? It's the relative ease with which most applications can move from a physical infrastructure to a virtual one.

But make the move without planning, run into a few of the major performance "gotchas", and your apps sitting on a brand-new virtual infrastructure will run like they're locked in an old box that's sitting around because it's too much trouble to throw out. Author Kevin Fogarty identifies a total of five "virtualization speed traps" that your company would do well to avoid:

- Assuming that server consolidation will magically turn hardware performance issues into an afterthought.

- Avoiding necessary infrastructure upgrades, including networking and storage resources, to make the most of your server virtualization investments.

- Ignoring the continuing need for server "configuration, security, management, licensing, patching and all the other work that goes into keeping one application or a whole data center running."

- Failing to adjust your IT staff's expectations -- and responsibilities -- so that minor virtualization glitches and everyday management tasks don't turn into an endless game of finger-pointing and buck-passing.

- Packing VMs onto a single physical server without considering the unique overhead requirements of the applications running in those machines.

Do all of these concerns apply to smaller businesses as well as enterprises? Not always: A small IT staff, for example, is less likely to play hot-potato with the virtual server troubleshooting process than a larger, more specialized staff.

Don't Miss: NEW! Virtualization How-To Center

Don't let that keep you from seeing the big picture here. Server virtualization technology practically begs users to inflate their expectations, and vendors are reluctant to rain on the parade. The same antidote for these five problems -- a realistic, carefully-prepared plan for implementing a virtualization solution -- will keep any company, of any size, from creating a virtual train wreck.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer