Virtualization in Linux environments: The Penguin wants to play.

While it’s true almost everyone is gung-ho about the benefits of virtualization these days, many organizations end up missing the boat on maximizing its greatest benefits – increased server utilization and consolidated workloads, lower energy costs, increased flexibility and easier system management.

 Why? Maybe because they view virtualization as a magic bullet to solving all their hardware and computing problems. It’s not. And it turns out whether you’re virtualizing a Linux environment or any other, there are steps to take, best practices to follow and pitfalls to be wary of to ensure virtualization implementation and ongoing management run smoothly.

 Linux.com’s Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier offers a wealth of common sense suggestions –ones that are often overlooked or taken for granted – here and here to help you virtualize successfully in Linux environments:

 Define your goal, perform and inventory and set up a roadmap: Understand what you want to accomplish, have a well-defined set of goals, identify hardware that will be freed up or phased out, and come up with a detailed requirements document that outlines the hardware you’ll need, as well as storage, management and possible solutions. A lot of this may elicit a ‘duh,’ but issues later can often be traced back to insufficient planning and goal-setting early on.

 Beware of “virtual sprawl”: Just because it seems easy to deploy a virtual machine doesn’t mean you should. “It’s important to manage virtual machines as if they were physical machines, when it comes to infrastructure planning and deployment.”

 Consider container-based virtualization: Full virtualization is what most organizations need, but the container-based variety – running on a single OS kernel and “containing” guest OSes in their own userspace – is more robust and ideal for some workloads, and worth considering. “Want to run six Linus instances on a server using container-based virtualization? No problem. Want to run a few Linux guest alongside Microsoft Server? Then you’re out of luck using container-based solutions.”

 More planning: Consider the types of workloads being deployed, underlying hardware, virtualization solution limits. “While many workloads do well under virtualization, not all do, at least not without extensive planning.”

 Oh and did we mention planning?: “If you’re going to be consolidating existing workloads, you need to start getting baselines of those workloads if you don’t already have them. At least 30 days if possible, and running at peak demand.”

 Testing – in other words, even more planning: If this is your organizations first foray into virtualization or virtualizing Linux workloads, start with a test pilot and start carefully and thoughtfully.

 Training: “There’s an enormous difference between getting by and being skilled at using the tools. If your organization is planning a virtualization deployment with a new toolset, training should be part of the process and budget.”

 For a useful list of specific virtualization tips and techniques in a Linux environment that can help you improve performance, reliability and security, click here. For details on specific solutions designed for virtualizing Linux environments, click here.

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About Doug Sekus

Doug Sekus has over 20 years experience in the information technology industry, most recently as the Director of Softchoice Corporation’s Business Development, Servers and Virtualization sector.