Administrative Fatigue Leads to Virtual Machine Sprawl

Michael Vizard

According to research published by Embotics, a provider of virtualization management software, a major cause of virtual machine sprawl is the simple fact that as many as 30 percent of the virtual machines deployed in any given enterprise are redundant.

The reason there are so many redundant virtual machines unnecessarily taking up so much disk space comes down to what Embotics vice president of marketing David Lynch calls 'administrative fatigue.'

According to Lynch, much of the management process surrounding virtual machines is still manual. And while providers of virtual machine software have focused on providing better provisioning tools, it's not exactly in their interest to focus on automated management tools that reduce the number of virtual machines in the environment.

In the interest of full disclosure, Embotics wants to highlight redundant virtual machines as part of making its case for the need for better management tools. Embotics most recently added tools to its virtual management suite that make it easier to identify minute changes to virtual machines to help identify issues arising from various updates to virtual machine software. Embotics also has tools that identify virtual machines that are not in use at all, which happens more often than anybody likes to admit.

Right now, Lynch estimates that on average there are 75 virtual machine deployments to every administrator. Naturally, IT organizations would like to see that number be closer to 200, but without any automated tools most administrators can easily lose track of virtual machines.

Of course, this problem is only going to be exacerbated as virtual machine environments become more heterogeneous with the advent of virtual machine software from Microsoft, Oracle, Citrix and Red Hat, all vying for market share against VMware.

The bottom line is that IT organizations are asking more of virtual machine administrators than they can possibly handle, leading to more virtual machine redundancy and forgotten virtual machine deployments. Unless they get tools to automate the ongoing management of virtual machines into the hands of those administrators, the problem is going to get bigger as virtualization gets more complex.

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