Best Practices for Virtual Server Monitoring

Enterprises of all types and sizes can benefit from virtualization. Virtualization can simplify IT infrastructures, making them more efficient while reducing costs. Virtual servers are also one of the most critical elements of today’s data centers. IT administrators can deploy applications faster, use processing power more efficiently and use the virtual servers to enhance availability and performance.   

You are likely to see an increase in virtual servers at your enterprise when it is undergoing significant growth. Having effective monitoring policies and practices already in place can ensure that you are making the most of your virtualization efforts.

However, making sure that the virtual servers work as they should is no small task. The most common challenge in monitoring a virtual environment is ensuring that you have enough visibility. The monitoring tools and practices you use have to provide the visibility necessary to help your monitor and optimize performance.  

Why is it so important to monitor your virtual machines correctly? Virtualized environments have more security risks than physical environments. Consolidating applications on a single physical server produces only one point of failure that impacts just the server and its network connection. In contrast, all of the applications that are on a virtualized server will be affected if the virtualized server crashes or its network connection slows down or crashes.

Your entire IT infrastructure has to be constantly reviewed in order to ensure the health of your virtual environment. Here are some best practices you can use to ensure that your virtual environment remains stable and reliable.

Establish a Performance Baseline

Make it a priority to create baselines when all aspects of the virtual environment are operating as they should. This can be applicable to physical servers as well. Having a performance baseline with a right set of metrics will not only help you understand resource utilization, but it also means that you will have something to compare when complications arise.  

Leverage Automation

Using automation to monitor and manage virtual machines can help save time and allow you and your team to focus your attention and time on IT issues that are more critical. Automated tasks can include rebooting or resetting VMs or placing VMs on standby.

Treat the Monitoring of Virtual and Non-Virtual Traffic the Same

The same importance placed on monitoring non-virtual traffic should also be placed on virtual traffic. Avoided deprioritizing the monitoring of virtual hosts just because you may think they are safer than physical hosts. Keeping track of both external and internal traffic to your virtual machines can help you determine which machines require additional resources and which ones would be more effective as stand-alones.

Read this: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Virtualization

Be Generous with Physical Host Server Hardware Resources

The physical host server should have enough resources necessary for guest virtual servers configuration upgrades and for those virtual servers to function as they should. These resources include ample storage, CPU and memory for virtual machines to execute their services. Its exact configuration will depend on the functionality and requirement of the virtual machines. The physical host servers should also be able to distribute or redistribute resources wherever the need arises.

Realize that the Benefits of Virtualization can be Eliminated by Zombie VMs

The multiple benefits that virtualization can provide can be hampered by the VM sprawl caused by zombie VMs, or virtual machines that are have become idle, forgotten when they are not needed for purposes for which they were created. The VM sprawl can impede the performance of the virtual devices in your infrastructure by continuing to hog resources while performing no useful work.

To get most out of your monitoring efforts, regularly check your data center infrastructure maps and get rid of the zombie virtual machines when they are found.    

Use the Right VM Monitoring Tool

Some enterprises may be hesitant to invest in such tools because there are native tools included with the hypervisor, or they may feel confident that the tools used for monitoring physical servers will suffice for virtual servers. However, there are many capabilities the right virtualization specific tool can provide that are not offered by native tools or tools designed specifically for physical servers.

Monitoring software intended for physical servers are unable to execute automated VM deployment and are also incapable of creating VMs.  One big advantage VM monitoring tools have over native features is that they are able to provide better scalability. Native tools are also unable to define maintenance schedules or provide template-based VM deployments.

Even though you can operate a virtualized environment without the use of VM monitoring software, doing so will not allow you to take full advantage of your virtualization infrastructure.

Monitoring virtual servers is not easy. The various benefits that they provide can result in scalability issues if they are not properly monitored and managed. However, there are virtualization monitoring tools available that can help lighten much of the heavy workload.

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