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Best Practices for VMware vSphere

Following my post on Best Practices on Hyper-V , I will share my best practices for VMware ESX Servers . The following best practices are based on VMware’s Best Practices for Performance and also on my experience with ESX Servers over the years . This might not be an exhaustive list of  best practices for ESX  but definitely covers some basic best practices that needs to be followed in VMware environments.

  • Ensure that all  the Hardware along with associated Storage / SAN   is part of  VMware certified hardware compatibility  list  from here.
  • Ensure to enable hardware virtualization assistance features like Intel VT / AMD-V , EPT , RVI  in BIOS of the Hardware.
  • Storage Performance on both DAS and SAN is dependent on various factors like RAID level , Cache , Stripe size and so on and hence careful planning is required to avoid any storage bottlenecks.
  • It is always recommended to use 1G NIC cards for both ESX and Hyper-V . Dedicate separate NICs for management traffic .
  • NIC teaming can be carried out in Servers when there is availability of multiple network cards on the servers.
  • Disable C1E halt state in the BIOS.
  • Enough resources ( RAM and Disk ) to service console must be planned and allocated in case of ESX deployment . Please remember that there is no service console in ESXi environments.
  • Never over provision a Virtual Machine . Allocate only as much virtual hardware as required.
  • Always ensure that VM Hardware version is 7 ( in case of vSphere 4 Environments) as there are many featured for performance enhancements like VMXNET3 , PVSCSI etc..
  • Do not use SMP VMs for Single Threaded applications.
  • Enable Hyper-Threading in case of vSphere 4 environments . Ensure to enable HT in hardware as well as in ESX Server.
  • When planning for Memory requirement take into consideration memory requirement for Service console , VMkernel and memory overhead incurred by each Virtual Machines as well
  • For best performance of disks in a VMFS datastore , always prefer Eager-Zeroed disks – Although these disks are time-consuming during the creation process , these offer the best I/O Performance.
  • Ensure that the Guest operating is supported as part of  VMware certified OS compatibility guide  from here.
  • Ensure VMware Tools are always installed and updated after every ESX update.
  • I would strongly recommend to configure NTP servers for all ESX Servers for accurate time keeping.
  • Always ensure to disable unnecessary service running inside a Virtual Machine that might otherwise consume resources.
  • When running VMs on Hardware version 7 , use VMXNET3 NIC adapter and PVSCSI based on the Guest OS.
  • I would always recommend to use FQDN for all ESX Servers for proper name resolution.
  • Always assign and use Static IP for ESX / ESXi Management IP.
  • Processor affinity – Never use Processor affinity unless required or recommended.
  • Shares and limits – Please do not use Shares and limits without understanding their effects.
  • Sysprep – Always Sysprep your Windows Guest Operating Systems
  • Roles and permissions – Use in-built sample roles and also create customized roles as per your requirement for your administrators .
  • Lockdown – Recommended to lockdown your ESX Servers to prevent direct SSH access to Root account
  • Backup & Anti Virus – Always recommended to configure Backup and Anti-Virus for your Guest VMs in Non- Peak hours and also in different schedules for VMs that are part of same host. Both Backup and Anti-Virus consumes host reources and hence must be carefully planned and scheduled.
  • Periodically monitor the resource utilization of ESX hosts to understand the usage of Host . Virtual Center Performance reports can be used to generate reports for ESX hosts and VMs.

Best Practices needs to be updated every now and then and I hope to do so too . Please share your thoughts and best practices so that we can make this post better together !!

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