VM Sprawl?

We all know how it starts. You said, 'sure, just this once.' Someone said, 'psst, buddy, try this out.'

Joe Hernick, IT Director

April 2, 2008

2 Min Read

We all know how it starts. You said, 'sure, just this once.' Someone said, 'psst, buddy, try this out.'You were at that wall. You needed a boost. Your business partners needed faster turn around, your budget dollars got crunched. Everyone else was doing it. Maybe you just though it would be cool.

You virtualized your first production server.

And it was good. It was great. You repurposed some VMware licenses from your test lab, grabbed some under-utilized hardware and went to town. Print servers? Check. Ten to one consolidation. Secondary domain controllers? Why not put one on the print host? Great. Marketing database running at single-digit CPU loads? Why not guest that on the new eight-way box in the lab; Marketing will never know...

Another year rolls around, your ops budget received formal approval for an ESX rollout and you learned the joys of vMotioning across 20 hosts. Downtime is a thing of the past. Your x86 service manager is queued up for a fat performance bonus; delivery and performance metrics for service have never been better.

Then it happens. The hairs on the back of your neck start to itch.

A compliance audit.

You realize that you can't get an accurate inventory of production 'servers.'

Your ops managers are having difficulty tracing root cause for intermittent performance problems.

You're suffering from an acute case of vMotion-sickness.

You need to manage your VM sprawl.

All major virtualization host platforms have some level of bundled management tools. XenCenter offers a bunch of management options for free... VMware Infrastructure 3's Virtual Center starts to sound like a good idea in hindsight. A $6K license and a SQL build later and that "VMotion + storage VMotion" module is looking pretty good, too.

Are bundled tools good enough? Should you start spending some serious bank on ESX plug-ins or 3rd party management tools? As with most questions in IT, the correct answer, as always, is 'it depends...'

What do you think? Any good stories from the real world out there?We all know how it starts. You said, 'sure, just this once.' Someone said, 'psst, buddy, try this out.'

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About the Author(s)

Joe Hernick

IT Director

Joe Hernick is in his seventh year as director of academic technology at Suffield Academy, where he teaches, sits on the Academic Committee, provides faculty training and is a general proponent of information literacy. He was formerly the director of IT and computer studies chair at the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT, and spent 10 years in the insurance industry as a director and program manager at CIGNA.

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