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Mistakes to avoid when providing virtualization services and support

When offering virtualization services to your customers, there are four common mistakes that you need to look out for to provide the best virtualization support.

There are many mistakes that IT solutions providers can make when providing virtualization services and support to customers.

More resources on virtualization services and support:
Oracle virtualization support excludes VMware, Microsoft, Citrix

Advanced desktop virtualization services: Licensing and application delivery

VMware partners reap benefits of virtualization support products

Multi-core processors fuel virtualization services

In one of my more popular articles on SearchServerVirtualization.com, I discussed four common errors that can kill virtual machine performance. These blunders are particularly insidious, because the actions associated with them aren't usually a part of any "virtualization services and support best practices" document. Here are the common mistakes solutions providers make when offering virtualization support:

  • Mistake #1: Enabling screensavers on virtual machines (VMs).
  • Mistake #2: Managing VMs from a customer's console (or from a remote console).
  • Mistake #3: Enabling real-time antivirus or anti-malware scanning on VM disk files.
  • Mistake #4: Incorrectly configuring Microsoft's power options for balanced versus high performance.

Fortunately, fixing these mistakes is an easy task. It has been said that the primary reason for virtualization technology is to improve the use of available system resources. Today, solutions providers find that offering virtualization services and support is essential because it allows an organization to use all of its physical resources, leaving none to languish unused.

Yet, with greater resource optimization comes the need for greater resource observation and monitoring. No matter which virtual platform you use, you will see problems when you overload your customers' hosts with too much VM processing. Processing overload can occur by adding too many VMs or by using VMs with too many resource needs. Overload can also occur through poor management practices.

As a trusted advisor to your customers, your own organization should follow best practices for resource optimization and virtualization support. And, because solutions providers are the ones providing virtualization services, suggesting the best policies for your customers is just as important as installing virtual hosts.

In the last two years, the IT industry's obsession with virtualization services appears to be evolving past its initial hype and entering a more mature phase. While the excitement of virtualization technologies might be subsiding, solutions providers can still find many business opportunities in providing consulting advice for virtualization support.

Channel partners must pay attention to the four common virtualization services mistakes (mentioned above) and begin looking at the big picture, which includes the analysis of your customers' management and administrative practices. For example, when you show up on-site at a customer's location, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have your customers set policies to handle screensavers? Are those policies related to desktops, or do they also include servers? Is there a security or compliance reason for why the policy also includes server hardware, and must that policy be followed even if it reduces overall performance?
  • What is the level of experience within your customers' administrative staff? Are they manually performing most tasks, or have they made the jump to greater levels of automation? Are they using today's more powerful shell and scripting products to solve problems, or are they still remotely performing tasks for each desktop?
  • Have your customers' antivirus and anti-malware policies adapted to fit the technologies and the features associated with today's virtualization technologies? Many businesses' anti-malware policies were written in the early days of the malware threat and don't include the necessary updates to compensate for newer approaches to protection. Does that omission present an opportunity for you, as a solutions provider?
  • Are your customers even aware that power options exist, or do they care? Power options in the Windows operating system have a marginal cost benefit when correctly configured. However, reducing power also tends to reduce performance. With power cost reduction being a hard cost to clients, can you provide guidance here as well?

From looking at these four bullets, you should recognize that virtualization services and support are constantly evolving. The complexities that virtualization services bring to an environment present tangible opportunities for channel partners to educate and advise their customers. Your job is to distinguish where those opportunities lie.

About the author
Greg Shields, MVP, vExpert, is a partner with Concentrated Technology. Get more of Greg's tips and tricks at http://concentratedtech.com.


This was last published in February 2010

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