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Virtualization and Beyond: If You Want to Virtualize, You Only Got Two Choices

Virtualization and Beyond

Welcome to Virtualization and Beyond

If You Want to Virtualize, You Only Got Two Choices

Written by Bill Baker, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, SolarWinds

Virtualization allows you to easily provision and grow servers, as well as run more workloads on fewer servers. Essentially, it's "do more with less." Virtualization does enable IT to run more workloads on fewer servers, but it has become too easy to provision new virtual machines (VMs), and too hard to manage them. This is causing customers to lose track of VMs that are no longer being used, and consequently, the resources they are wasting.

In addition to wasted resources, some organizations have discovered that as they deploy more and more VMs, their virtualized environments become more difficult to manage, their application performance and availability decreases, and their IT cost increases.

Virtualization offers distinct advantages like improved consolidation. But every technology advance brings its own unintended consequences. With virtualization, many data centers are facing uncontrolled growth and over-allocation of resources to VMs.

What is VM sprawl?

VMs are easy to define and provision, and users tend to over-strain their IT department with overwhelming numbers of VMs. VM sprawl occurs when the number of VMs on a network reaches a point where the virtual administrator can no longer control the inefficient use of shared virtual resources (wasted or misconfigured shared resources).

Why does it matter?

VM sprawl is a big problem that's costing companies time and money. Too many virtual machines pose technical challenges and risks to the virtualized infrastructure that can lead to infrastructure management issues, higher costs due to unnecessary VMs, and reduced application performance caused by shared resource contention.

Four Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of VM Sprawl

  1. Get a Grip: Virtual administrators should not waste time despairing that VM sprawl is out of control. Rather, they should be figuring out why it is happening and how to make it manageable.

  2. Stop VM Sprawl Before It Starts: The best way to manage VM sprawl, of course, is to avoid creating it in the first place. Identify and maintain an owner for every VM in the data center-ensure that unattended servers don't become a liability.

  3. Get Rid of Unused VMs: Frequently review unused VMs and determine if they need to be permanently deleted. With plenty of notice, start shutting unused VMs down. If someone screams, you can power them back on. If no one screams, then wait a few months, back up the data, and get rid of the VM (as well as any snapshots and related disk files).

  4. Get Rid of Orphaned Virtual Disks: Delete leftover virtual disk files not linked to any existing VMs.

When it comes to enterprise computing, it seems like history often repeats itself. First we had server sprawl, then virtualization-enabled server consolidation, and now we have VM sprawl. If your IT is going to continue to virtualize, then as Silvio of The Sopranos® fame would say, "You only got two choices." Those two choices are either investing in identifying and tracking the VM resources you need to align with the demand, or risk degraded application performance and costly expenditures for unnecessary VM resources.

Read more articles from the Virtualization and Beyond Series.  

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About the Author 

With 30 years of IT industry experience across multiple corporate environments, Bill Baker currently serves as Sr. Product Marketing Manager for hybrid IT performance management software provider SolarWinds, where he focuses specifically on product marketing initiatives for the award-winning SolarWinds® Virtualization Manager and SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor solutions.

Published Friday, November 17, 2017 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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