5 tips for vanquishing virtual sprawl

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Anyone who has virtualized the server environment understands the enormous amount of flexibility delivered via virtualization. Common tasks such as deploying a server for a new application or creating an entire multiserver development environment to test a new software package take a fraction of the time that they would with a physical environment. Better yet, doing so appears to be nearly free: no purchase orders for new hardware, no waiting for shipment, and no hunting for rack space.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. All too often, the agility blessings of virtualization become a curse as the number of virtual machines spirals out of control. If left unchecked, this VM sprawl can have serious security and licensing consequences -- not to mention sapping precious (and expensive) storage resources.

Unsurprisingly, a wide array of management products have been developed to tackle the VM lifecycle management challenge. However, if you're a relatively small shop, spending money on a niche management tool (and having the time to use it fully) may not be in the cards. If you find yourself in that boat, heer are five simple rules of thumb that should help.

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