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How to Prevent VM Sprawl

Here are some things you can do in your data center to prevent or at least reduce the impact of VM sprawl

Virtualization has revolutionized the data center, and has solved much of the impending trouble organizations would have faced in the past few years. Greater demand for computing services has been met, largely, by technologies such as virtualization. Yet along with virtualization has come a parallel problem: VM sprawl. VM sprawl occurs when your virtual machines are spread across your virtual infrastructure, hogging resources whether or not they’re being used proportionately.

Here are some things you can do in your data center to prevent or at least reduce the impact of VM sprawl:

  • Make sure you see the larger picture. Understand exactly what your current data center architecture supports, and know what’s being used and where. Knowing your limitations will help you to be able to address user VM requests in a more effective and efficient way.
  • Know what resources a new VM requires. When you add a virtual machine, you need a number of resources, including IT staff time to manage the virtual infrastructure. Eventually, of course, you also need more physical servers.
  • Educate the users. There are a number of ways to get the word out to your organization that adding a new virtual machine has a real cost associated with it. One of these methods, of course, is chargebacks; some organizations have great success with chargeback systems, while others may be better off with a direct-to-user knowledge campaign that helps them understand that a virtual machine still requires resources.
  • Regularly audit VM use. Chances are that there are VMs in your organization that can be turned off. The fact of the matter is that there are VMs that aren’t being used. There are two ways you can approach this kind of an audit. You can certainly look at utilization statistics. But you can and should also reach out to users, and help them identify which VMs they may have requested that are no longer being used. Application owners aren’t necessarily great at letting you know when they’re done with a particular VM.

VM sprawl is part and parcel of a virtualized environment, but by following these tips you can reduce its severity.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.

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