Manage VM Sprawl: Prevent and Control Virtual Machine Proliferation

Learn about the concept of VM sprawl and its impact on IT infrastructure. Discover effective strategies and best practices to prevent and manage virtual machine proliferation.


By Zelia / Updated on January 10, 2024

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Understanding the concept of VM sprawl

VM sprawl refers to the unchecked growth and proliferation of virtual machines within an organization's IT infrastructure. It occurs when VMs are created and deployed without proper oversight, resulting in an excessive number of underutilized or abandoned VMs. VM sprawl poses several challenges, including resource waste, increased management complexity, performance degradation, and higher costs.


The consequences of VM sprawl

The consequences of VM sprawl can have a significant impact on an organization's IT environment:

1. Resource Waste: Underutilized or abandoned VMs consume valuable computing resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage, without delivering any meaningful value. This resource waste hampers efficient resource allocation and increases operational costs.

2. Increased Management Complexity: As the number of VMs grows, so does the complexity of managing them. Tasks like patching, updating, ensuring security compliance, and monitoring performance become increasingly challenging, resulting in administrative overhead and reduced operational efficiency.

3. Performance Degradation: Overprovisioning of VMs can lead to resource contention, where VMs compete for limited resources. This contention can result in decreased performance and negatively impact critical applications running on the virtual infrastructure.

4. Higher Costs: The proliferation of VMs brings additional licensing, maintenance, and power costs. Moreover, managing a sprawling VM environment requires additional manpower and resources, further escalating operational expenses.

Factors contributing to VM sprawl

Several factors contribute to the proliferation of virtual machines:

1. Lack of Governance: Insufficient policies and governance frameworks for VM provisioning and retirement contribute to VM sprawl. Organizations must establish clear guidelines for VM creation, usage, and retirement to maintain control and prevent unnecessary VM proliferation.

2. Poor Visibility: Limited visibility into VM usage and allocation makes it challenging to identify underutilized or abandoned VMs. This lack of oversight exacerbates VM sprawl and its associated consequences. Organizations need robust monitoring and reporting mechanisms to gain visibility into their VM environment.

3. Manual Processes: Relying on manual processes for VM provisioning and management is time-consuming and error-prone. Automation is essential to streamline operations, enforce policies, and prevent VM sprawl. Implementing automated provisioning and deployment processes can significantly mitigate VM sprawl risks.

4. Shadow IT: Departments or teams creating VMs outside the purview of IT management can contribute to VM sprawl. Lack of centralized control and accountability leads to unregulated VM deployments. Organizations should encourage collaboration and provide self-service portals to ensure all VM deployments go through the proper channels.

Strategies to prevent and manage VM sprawl

To prevent and effectively manage VM sprawl, organizations can adopt the following strategies:

1. Establish Clear Policies and Governance: Implement comprehensive policies and guidelines for VM provisioning, usage, and retirement. Clearly define approval processes and assign responsibilities to stakeholders involved in VM lifecycle management. This will help create a controlled environment for VM deployments.

2. Regularly Assess VM Usage and Utilization: Conduct periodic assessments to identify underutilized or inactive VMs. Utilize monitoring tools to track resource consumption and make informed decisions about VM consolidation, retirement, or optimization. Regularly reviewing VM usage and utilization can help ensure efficient resource allocation.

3. Implement Automated Provisioning and Management: Leverage automation tools and self-service portals to streamline VM provisioning and management processes. Automation reduces manual errors, ensures adherence to policies, and empowers users to request and manage their VMs within predefined parameters.

4. Foster Collaboration and Communication: Encourage collaboration between IT and business units to ensure VM deployments align with organizational goals. Regular communication and feedback loops enable proactive addressing of VM sprawl concerns. Building a culture of collaboration helps prevent shadow IT and promotes effective VM lifecycle management.

Implementing effective VM lifecycle management

One powerful solution for preventing and managing VM sprawl is AOMEI Cyber Backup. This comprehensive backup and recovery software offers robust VM lifecycle management capabilities, helping organizations streamline their VM operations.

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Let's explore specific steps to back up and restore your VMware VMs using AOMEI Cyber Backup:

1. Install and launch AOMEI Cyber Backup on your VMware host machine.

2. From the main interface, select "Backup" and choose the VMware virtual machine as the source.

3. Configure the backup settings, including the destination location, backup type (full, incremental, or differential), and schedule.

4. Initiate the backup process and monitor its progress. AOMEI Cyber Backup ensures reliable and efficient VM backups, safeguarding criticaldata and enabling quick recovery in case of VM failures or data loss.

5. In the event of VM failure or data loss, launch AOMEI Cyber Backup, select "Restore," and choose the desired backup image.

6. Follow the prompts to restore the VM to its original location or an alternative destination. AOMEI Cyber Backup simplifies the restoration process, ensuring minimal downtime and preserving business continuity.


Effectively managing VM sprawl is crucial for organizations seeking to optimize their IT infrastructure and control costs. By understanding the concept of VM sprawl, its consequences, and the factors contributing to its occurrence, organizations can implement proactive strategies to prevent and manage virtual machine proliferation. Implementing clear policies, conducting regular assessments, leveraging automation, fostering collaboration, and utilizing robust VM lifecycle management tools like AOMEI Cyber Backup empower organizations to maintain a well-optimized virtualized environment.

With AOMEI Cyber Backup's comprehensive capabilities, organizations can ensure the protection, backup, and recovery of their VMware VMs. By adopting best practices in VM lifecycle management and utilizing powerful tools, businesses can effectively prevent VM sprawl, optimize resource utilization, reduce costs, and enhance overall IT efficiency. Taking proactive measures to control and manage VM sprawl enables organizations to reap the benefits of virtualization while mitigating its associated risks.

Zelia · Editor
Zelia is an editor from AOMEI Technology.She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. Writing is one of her hobbies and she wants her articles to be seen by more people. In her spare time, she likes to draw and listen to music, and it is a pleasure for her to focus on her own world.