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Virtualization Best Practices

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How can IT mitigate security risks from virtualization and eliminate the negative impacts it can have on storage? Jon Brodkin of Network World walks us through several virtualization best practices to get the most benefit from the technology.

A Gartner survey found that 40% of virtualization projects were undertaken without the security team’s involvement. In a legacy world, a security threat to one server may only put one workload at risk, but in a virtualized data center the hypervisor has oversight over all workloads running on a physical server putting them all at risk reports Mr. Brodkin. Experts recommend the following virtualization best practices to follow when beginning a project:

  • Always involve the information security team early in the initial architecture and planning stages.
  • Establish policies regarding the consolidation of workloads of different trust levels. Also when evaluating new security management tools Gartner recommends looking for those that span physical and virtual with the same management, policy and reporting framework.
  • Once installed ensure patching, removing old users accounts, etc. continue to be up to date.

In terms of storage, Mr. Brodkin reports that “virtualizing servers without adapting physical storage systems to the unique needs of virtual machines is a kiss of death to any virtualization project”. Two virtualization best practices are thin provisioning and wide stripping technology. Thin provisioning pre-allocates a larger amount of storage to applications than is actually available to them, allowing applications to share a pool of storage and use only what they need, when they need it. Wide stripping technology helps to solve the increase in I/O patterns from virtualization by distributing the I/O load across many disks, rather than just a few.