Shining a light on virtual server sprawl

For all the interesting in cloud computing, enterprises and smaller businesses alike have been using virtualization for some time now. This could be for virtual machines (VMs) that are hosted on-site, operated at a data center, or as part of a hybrid deployment in tandem with cloud services.

There are many advantages offered by the use of virtual machines, chief of which is the ability to maximize the utilization of server hardware. This helps save money, allowing for the purchase of fewer hardware equipment to perform the same workload with no loss in terms of response time.

Managing virtual servers

However, most organizations find out rather quickly that a virtualized infrastructure does not make the traditional problems of managing infrastructure go away. Indeed, the problem is actually worsened due to the reduced transparency of VMs, leading to forgotten “zombie” or “orphaned” VMs that does consumes resources in the background for no meaningful returns. The fact that traditional monitoring tools may not work well – if at all – within virtual environments doesn’t help either.

This has resulted in the term “virtual server sprawl” being coined to highlight the same issues that can afflict a poorly managed virtual infrastructure. Clearly, specialized tools to better monitor and manage virtual servers is necessary.

“Virtual Machine Sprawl is an outcome of not having insight into the ‘active’ or ‘inactive’ VMs in your network,” noted Praveen Manohar, Head Geek at SolarWinds. “Virtualized networks provide you with the benefits of server consolidation, cost saving, and stress-free management. But, not monitoring them leaves you with a lot of unused machines taking up RAM, storage and power.”

On this front, I thought it’ll be interesting to highlight some of the benefits that businesses can expect to reap. Here are a few that comes to mind:

Virtual Server AppProactive troubleshooting: Is your Web server running out of memory during peak periods, or is the CPU utilization of the database server constantly high with scant leeway for spikes? Digging through lengthy reports for potential problems can be time consuming affair, and is no guarantee that a recently developed problem don’t get missed out anyway. A good monitoring tool, on the other hand, can intelligently monitor for occurrences of these happening and flag them for the administrator to fix.

More efficient resource pooling: A good virtual server monitoring tool can help increase resource pooling by allowing administrators to compare RAM, CPU and storage utilization across VMs. It can also help identify bottlenecks in disk I/O or network I/O, allowing virtualized application servers to be better tuned for maximum performance.

Justifying an upgrade: There is never enough IT budget to go around, and asking for a hardware upgrade can be a challenging for some organizations. While the presence of a virtual server monitoring tool does not mean that all hardware upgrades will automatically be approved, it does facilitate the generation of the pertinent charts and reports for convincing the CIO of the necessity of adding more computing resources.

Do you see any benefits that a good monitoring tool could bring you, or wish for certain features to help have an easier time with virtual machines? Do share in the comments section below.

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with SolarWinds