Getting Started with Virtual Machines

Getting Started with Virtual Machines

Table of Contents

In today’s quickly evolving technological landscape, virtualization has become increasingly important—it maximizes the use of hardware resources, enhances the IT infrastructure’s overall efficiency, and streamlines operations. 

One of the most essential tools in the virtualization toolbox is virtual machines, and even though they provide lots of benefits, it can take a lot of work to perform maintenance and ensure consistent performance. This is where monitoring comes in—it provides visibility into VMs and helps you troubleshoot problems. MetricFire makes VM monitoring easy with its Hosted Graphite services that provide in-depth insight into your virtual machine and its resources with minimal configuration. To learn more about monitoring your VM with MetricFire, book a demo today or sign up for a 14-day free trial.     

What Is A Virtual Machine?

Before we set up a virtual machine, it’s essential to understand what it is. A virtual machine is a physical computer (like a laptop) with a CPU, disks for storing files, memory, and internet connectivity options that only exist as code. These machines aren’t tangible and are created on physical servers, which use software to deploy apps and run programs.

Software known as the hypervisor separates the hardware and the machine’s resources and delegates them appropriately for use by VMs. Each virtual machine has its own OS and hardware configuration and works independently of other VMs, even if they all run on the same host (virtualization helps isolate workloads and ensures efficient use of resources).     

Why Should I Set VMs Up?

Since VMs are independent of one another, they’re pretty portable—you can move them from one hypervisor to another on a different machine in just minutes, making them great for backups if the host machine suddenly goes down. Some other reasons why you might want to set up a VM are:

Resource efficiency

One of the most important reasons for setting up VMs is server consolidation. Most application deployments and OSs use only a few resources. With server virtualization, you can have multiple virtual servers on a physical server for better hardware utilization. As a result, you don’t need to invest in additional physical resources such as hard disks and hard drives.

VMs reduce the need for additional physical architecture and lessen the need to maintain multiple servers, which saves utility and maintenance costs.

Isolation 

The VM environment is completely isolated from the rest of the system, so the software or application running inside won’t interfere with whatever’s running on the host machine. Because of this isolation, VMs can help set up a production environment or test new applications. Alternatively, you can run a VM for only one dedicated purpose.  

Disaster recovery 

Virtual machines provide additional disaster recovery options by allowing redundancy and failover. This could previously be achieved only with extra hardware. 

Disaster recovery strategies, such as backups and VM snapshots, also ensure minimal downtime in case of data corruption and hardware failure.

Speed & flexibility 

Setting up a virtual machine is pretty quick and easy. It’s also simpler than spinning up a new development environment. With virtualization, running dev-test scenarios becomes quicker—their sandboxed environment allows developers to experiment without affecting the production system. 

You can also easily create, clone, or scale them up or down as your workload demands change.

Scalability

Virtual machines allow you to add more virtual and physical servers and distribute the workload across many VMs, making it easy to scale apps and increase their performance and availability. 

Security

Since VMs can run on various operating systems, you can run apps and programs with poor security using a guest OS and protect your host machine. They also provide better security forensics and are typically used for studying and isolating computer viruses to prevent them from affecting the host. 

Support for legacy application

Virtual machines also extend support for legacy applications, which reduces the cost of migrating to a new OS. For instance, a host server running on Windows can run on a Linux VM running a Linux distro as the guest OS. 

Getting Started with VMs

Now that you know what VMs are and why you might benefit from one, here are step-by-step instructions for setting up your VM. 

Things to note

Before you go ahead and start installing a virtual machine, there are two things you need to keep in mind: 

  1. Numerous virtualization platforms are available. Some of the most common options are VirtualBox, VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, and VMware Player.

  2. The exact steps for installing a VM differ slightly from one VM program to another, but these are the general steps. 

Step 1: Choose a virtualization platform & OS

Select a virtualization platform that suits your needs, download and install it, and download a .iso file for the OS you want to run on the VM.  

Step 2: Install Hypervisor 

Install a hypervisor on your host machine to run and manage your VMs. This step is quite simple, and you’ll most likely only have to answer a few questions, such as where it should be installed.  

Step 3: Create a VM

Use the hypervisor to spin up a new VM. Specify the configuration for your machine, including network settings, storage, memory, and CPU. 

Step 4: Install an OS

Install the OS you downloaded earlier on your machine. You’ll need to do some setup here, but it will be no different from installing the OS on a standard, physical computer.

Step 5: Install applications

Install the software and applications within the virtual machine to meet your needs. 

Step 6: Configure Networking

Set up networking for the virtual machine so that it can communicate with the host and the outside world.  

Step 7: Snapshot and Backup

Set up regular backups and take snapshots to keep the VM’s configurations and data safe. 

Step 8: Set up monitoring

Perform routine maintenance and apply updates in time to keep the VM running smoothly. You should also monitor the VM’s performance to ensure no problems. One way to monitor VMs is with MetricFire’s Hosted Graphite services. To learn more about these, you can book a demo today or sign up for a 14-day free trial

Monitoring Virtual Machines with MetricFire

Once you spin up a VM and have it up and running, you must continue monitoring its health and performance. This is where MetricFire comes in; it offers real-time visibility into your VMs and allows you to:

  • Monitor your network, disk, memory, and CPU usage to ensure optimal resource allocation

  • Set up alerts so that you can be notified in case of abnormal VM behavior and take action to address issues promptly

  • Analyze historical performance data to identify trends and make informed decisions about scaling and resource allocation 

Why MetricFire?

Other tools for monitoring VMs, such as Graphite, offer a variety of impressive features and let you track your resources and performance in real-time. Real-time monitoring is essential if you want to stay up-to-date. Graphite also comes with some basic visualization tools; you can even connect them to Grafana.  

But there’s a problem—it’s an open-source tool, which means you’ll have to install, configure, implement, and maintain. This is where MetricFire comes in—it’s a platform for monitoring VMs and offers Hosted Graphite, which means you can use Graphite as a web app without installing or configuring it on your machine. 

Just like Graphite, Hosted Graphite allows you to track different metrics, including CPU and memory usage. It also allows you to focus on the system’s performance by taking care of the configuration, maintenance, and installation.  

Other benefits of MetricFire include:

  • Provides constant and easy access to your data

  • Allows you to track different system metrics without deploying any monitoring tools, helping you save both money and time

  • Provides a variety of pricing plans to meet your needs

  • Has a dedicated support team that’s ready to help you in case you’re stuck

  • MetricFire can scale with your infrastructure, accommodating the growth of your VM environment

Conclusion

Considering their benefits, like enhanced flexibility, cost savings, and resource utilization, it’s no surprise that VMs have become increasingly important for modern IT infrastructures. And after going through the step-by-step guide above, you won’t have any problems setting them up either. 

But to harness VMs' full potential, you must monitor them to ensure they perform optimally and remain healthy. One tool that can help you easily monitor your VMs is MetricFire, which provides Hosted Graphite services, removing the hassle of installing and setting up monitoring. To learn more about MetricFire's VM monitoring services, you can book a demo today or sign up for a 14-day free trial

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