• Considering a VMware vSphere 5 upgrade?

    When virtualization giant VMware launched vSphere 5 in July 2011, it was billed as an all-in-one virtualization platform. With the release, VMware CEO Paul Maritz sought to continue his company’s dominance over Microsoft in the virtualization market by stealing a play from their rival’s playbook.

    "It's like what we did at Microsoft years ago when I was there,” Maritz said. "We looked around and saw we had Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other single business software [applications], and we decided to put them together to make Office."

    Although the gap is closing, VMware’s vSphere 5 is still the preferred choice over Microsoft’s Hyper-V and other virtualization products, amongst most SMBs. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of what you should know if you’re considering a VMware vSphere 5 upgrade. Our experts can help you understand the licensing changes, decide whether to upgrade to version 5 and show you how to get the most out of the product if you are a current user.

  • Upgrading to ESXi 5: VMware’s latest hypervisor architecture

    By Julia Anderson, Assistant Site Editor

    Now that VMware has officially discontinued the ESX server, your IT shop will most likely be migrating to ESXi 5, whether you like it or not. Fortunately, this latest version now offers much of the power ESX did, and includes several new features and upgrades, promising easier installation and deployment.

    Since launching vSphere 5 in July 2011, VMware Inc. has recommended that all customers utilize the ESXi hypervisor architecture, as vSphere 5 -- and any subsequent updates and patch releases -- no longer includes the ESX architecture.

    VMware pros currently managing ESX environments will find that ESXi 5’s new auto deploy feature makes installation and deployment simpler, but they will no longer have a full service console for command line management.

    If you have questions or concerns about making the switch to ESXi, this comprehensive guide provides you with expert advice and information on key ESXi 5 features and installation best practices to help you through the upgrade.

  • ESX and ESXi security features and best practices

    While virtualization lowers cost and increases agility, it can also leave hypervisors vulnerable to security breaches. As Type 1 hypervisors, both ESX and ESXi run directly on server hardware without requiring an underlying operating system, or additional security for such an OS. Nonetheless, there are still multiple components to consider to ensure the hypervisor is completely secure.

    The following tips offer useful information and best practices for troubleshooting and securing ESX and ESXi, as well as the new security features offered in ESXi 5.

  • VMware virtualization techniques on a shoestring

    By Julia Anderson, assistant site editor

    VMware and budget-friendly virtualization techniques are nowhere near synonymous. In recent years, smaller budgets have forced IT admins to do more with less -- even among VMware shops. Given the high price tag associated with VMware's virtualization offerings, doing more with less may seem especially daunting. Nevertheless, IT pros can put together a VMware infrastructure on a shoestring IT budget simply by exploring all options and getting a little creative.

    First of all, not all VMware virtualization techniques and tools cost an arm and a leg. The vendor offers free-to-download "flings" from VMware Labs and cheaper eLearning courses that supplement its paid products and formal training. Some VMware products also have additional applications, which can provide creative workarounds to certain problems and ultimately stretch your budget further.

    But at the end of the day, you have to factor in the return on investment (ROI) for every dollar of your IT budget. When it comes to VMware virtualization techniques, you often get what you pay for. Spending money now on a VMUG membership, for example, can save you money down the road.

    Find out how you can build a VMware infrastructure on even a meager IT budget by using a little old-fashioned ingenuity.

  • Know your uptime: Differences between VMware FT and HA

    VMware Fault Tolerance is a high-availability feature that can be used within a VMware High Availability cluster. However, high availability is not synonymous with fault tolerance; there are meaningful differences between the two terms. Each setup requires different available resources and will affect virtual machines differently.

    Knowing your company's uptime and data recovery needs is the first step to determining if you need high availability, fault tolerance or none of the above. The next step is understanding the system requirements of VMware FT and HA and how each product works.

    The resources presented in this guide to VMware FT and HA will help you understand your options, with some real-world use cases to compare to your IT infrastructure and needs. Once you've perused the guide, test your knowledge of VMware HA and FT in our pop quiz.

  • Master VMware identity authentication strategies

    By Julia Anderson, assistant site editor

    The flexibility associated with a virtualized infrastructure helps decrease hardware costs and provides multiple options to provision and configure hosts, virtual machines and clusters. This same flexibility gives admins many options to architect virtual network security strategies, but provides just as many opportunities for failure and corrupted communications.

    Identity authentication and management are growing concerns among IT pros as they virtualize workloads and manage complex virtual infrastructures. VMware has sought to address these concerns by adding more identity-management tools and applications and expanding the use of digital certificates. The goal is increased security and productivity, easier network management and more reliable monitoring, without high costs or redundant effort.

    Case in point: the new Single Sign-On (SSO) feature in vSphere 5.1, which is a required component for upgrading to the latest version of the hypervisor. SSO acts as an authentication broker and a security token exchange. It provides more secure access to vSphere products than a password security vault, for example, which offers a superficial remedy for cumbersome authentication policies and lack of system integration. Unfortunately, VMware users have found SSO rife with errors, preventing many from completing the vSphere upgrade.

    VMware has rolled out SSO troubleshooting and vSphere 5.1 deployment resources, but the vendor has yet to see significant adoption numbers.

    Before your data center faces a network security breach, read up on VMware identity authentication and management methods.

  • Must-know vSphere 5.1 features for VMware admins

    VMware's vSphere 5.1 is a minor version update in name, but with changes to data backup, replication and the default interface, vSphere 5.1 features have garnered a lot of interest.

    Whether you've already upgraded and want to get more from your virtual infrastructure or want to know what to expect from vSphere 5.1, this guide will introduce features like the default Web client, replication, VMware's controversial single sign-on ID authentication and more. Along with the features' specs, learn about the patches VMware issued for vSphere 5.1, which some admins say came out without proper testing.

  • Applying vSphere network and vSwitch settings for a secure data center

    By Julia Anderson, assistant site editor

    Someone, somewhere could be targeting your vSphere network as you read this guide. Have you taken the proper precautions to ensure your VMware infrastructure and VM data are safe from attack? Virtualizing servers, storage, applications and networks benefits your organization with increased flexibility and customization and decreased hardware costs, but the practice also opens up your environment and virtual machines (VMs) to a host of potential security threats. The vSphere network is especially vulnerable given the volume of data and flow of traffic it handles. Some of these virtual network security techniques can also protect a physical network, but adequate virtual network security requires virtualization-specific efforts.

    VMware outfits vSphere and vCenter with a number of virtual network security features, such as Secure Socket Layer certificates and single sign-on, and offers other software and applications for even more protection. Following VMware's acquisition of Nicira, some industry experts have even said that the vendor is now a key Cisco competitor. VMware has also developed virtual switches (vSwitches) to regulate access to a VM's physical network cards, but it's your job to determine which type of vSwitch your network needs.

    With each vSphere release, VMware updates network security features; keeping up with these changes is paramount to the health of your VMware environment. Learning the best practices for configuring vSwitches and vSphere network settings is the only way to tailor and customize your security approach and ward off an attack.

  • Comparing the VMware vMA and other ESXi management tools

    VMware offers several free tools that work with vCenter Server for ESXi management, and each has its own pros and cons. At any given time, a resourceful VMware admin will call on each of these tools.

    When VMware server virtualization moved from ESX hosts to ESXi hosts, it eliminated the console operating system. This changed VMware admins' access point to host configuration and management.

    Scripting junkies can turn to the VMware vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) and vSphere Command-Line Interface (vCLI) or dive into ESXi tech support mode, while admins craving flexibility can access hosts and VMs through the Web client or iPad client.

  • Extreme makeover: VMware end-user computing edition

    VMware targets its end-user computing (EUC) and mobile initiatives for major updates to keep up with this rapidly evolving side of enterprise IT. Even in a VMware View environment, not all users work on virtual desktops; enterprise IT still manages and maintains physical machines. As such, hardware and software stability, as well as central management capabilities, are paramount to VDI environment efficiency and success.

    VMware designed its EUC tools and software to help admins deal with everything from cloud storage and file sharing to mobility management and desktop virtualization. But many organizations are unsure how to implement the immature technologies, and security concerns abound.

    Take the time now to school yourself in VMware end-user computing and mobile developments.

  • VMware Type-2 hypervisor comparison: Workstation vs. Player vs. Fusion

    When it comes to hosted virtualization from VMware Inc., your choices are dictated by price, features and the underlying desktop OS that will support the Type-2 hypervisor. You may have wondered about the differences between VMware's consumer virtualization tools. We did the homework for you to uncover the particulars of each tool and their use cases.

    VMware is known for its ESXi bare-metal hypervisor, the basis of all vSphere and vCloud features. But VMware's Type-2 virtualization options are more varied. The common thread running through VMware Workstation, Player and Fusion is that they all accomplish virtualization on a desktop system. Considered consumer products, Workstation and its kin are also widely deployed by vSphere admins for test and development work, user support and troubleshooting.

    VMware offers free trial periods for each of these products. Take advantage of trial periods to see if the platform meets your needs, falls short or presents options that aren't all that useful to you.