Virtualization Technology News and Information
How To Tame Cloud Sprawl

Article Written by Jim Manias, Vice President, Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.

While the advent of virtual and cloud computing has delivered a host of benefits to organizations, it has also brought the challenge of having to manage and monitor resources -- both physical and virtual -- based on dynamic business needs. The key conundrum with virtual and cloud resources develops when these invisible systems are forgotten and never spun down, resulting in cloud sprawl.

Cloud sprawl is the proliferation of virtual and cloud machine resources that are consumed, but not actually used. Similar to the scenario of a house where the lights are on but no one's home, leaving virtual and cloud systems running without being utilized is a resource drain and drives up costs for the business.

Workload automation for virtual/cloud computing is stepping up to the challenge of cloud sprawl. Intelligent automation software helps optimize system performance to better meet SLAs and reduce idle system waste. Just as a smart thermostat system in the home raises and lowers the temperature according to your activities, an intelligent automation solution can spin up more machines when more computing power is needed to complete jobs, as well as spin down idle machines that are no longer needed.

In addition to using intelligent automation, here are a few tips to help you manage your cloud resources and minimize sprawl:

Take accurate stock of resources

Today's IT environment contains a multitude of different applications, databases, and platforms. Organizations with a hybrid computing environment should take a complete accounting of the types of IT systems and resources available company-wide to minimize waste from idle or unused resources and be prepared for changing technology requests made by the business.

Limit access

Limit the number of people that have access to and the ability to create virtual machines and systems to reduce the risk of "shadow IT" -- the virtual duplication of efforts. Using this approach, formal requests regarding VMs are channeled to select IT staff with approval powers. As a result, the IT department gains more control and visibility over their virtual/cloud environment and must carefully consider the validity and necessity -- from an overall business perspective -- of fulfilling requests.

Allocate wisely

It's smart to allocate a designated amount of virtual resources to different departments using resource pools. VM creation is better controlled if you actively limit the resources available per host, to maximize performance and minimize waste.

Monitor usage

It is vital to closely monitor VM lifecycles to spin usage up and down quickly, which saves money and better utilizes computing resources. Intelligent workload automation solutions provide historical and predictive analysis so that resources can be spun up when needed to complete jobs or meet a critical deadline, and spun down when there are no jobs in the queue and nothing is planned. 

Improved management of the resources in your cloud environment is the key to limiting sprawl. With effective cloud resource management, business can reduce costs, minimize the risk of breaching SLAs, and have a more flexible IT infrastructure that is better able to respond to dynamic business needs.


About the Author

Jim Manias is Vice President at Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. and is responsible for the overall market strategy and planning for a range of products including ActiveBatch® Workload Automation and Job Scheduling.  Jim has been with Advanced Systems Concepts since 1991 and has held multiple senior management positions in the enterprise software and hardware market.  Jim can be reached at
Published Thursday, April 23, 2015 6:25 AM by David Marshall
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