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The Threat That Lies In Virtual Machine Sprawls

Data center virtualization has taken the IT world by storm and revolutionized how effectively IT professionals can perform their roles. The data center virtualization market is, in fact, growing at a fast rate with the market expected to be worth $8.06 billion by the end of 2022, according to the PR Newswire website. Other than reducing the need for using physical machines in data center management, it brings perks like network segmentation and rapid scalability to the table.

By focusing on virtualization, companies can also reduce the security risk of losing data from damaged physical devices. While it also makes it easy to introduce virtual machines in IT infrastructure, this ease unearths the threat that lies in virtual machine sprawls. If left unmanaged, this issue will poise your IT environment for failure.

Threat in Virtual Machines

Here are some more details about virtual machine sprawls and the challenges that they will expose your organization to:

An In-Depth Dive Into Virtual Machine Sprawls

Conventionally, production workloads typically ran on hardware and deploying a new workload required time and resources to achieve. Companies would have to look at aspects such as cooling systems, power consumption, budgetary constraints, and floor space requirements before choosing to deploy the needed hardware. When server virtualization is introduced into this mix, everything becomes quite easy to achieve.

IT teams can launch new production workloads through virtual machines in no time, but this convenience often leads to multiple virtual machines being launched simultaneously. The problem starts once IT administrators find themselves struggling to manage a sea of ‘status unknown’ virtual machines. Although this issue might at first seem like nothing but a nuisance to resource-rich organizations, it becomes a threat once these VMs go out of control.

Virtual Machine Sprawls Consume Resources

Despite the ease of deployment, virtual machines can never be deployed free. They will mainly need to use CPU cycles, physical memory, storage bandwidth, and network bandwidth. Additionally, virtual machines will also require you to use tools such as server monitoring software to ensure that they are running in optimal conditions.

As such, if your business decides to launch virtual machines rapidly just because it is convenient to do so, it will result in burdening IT resources. For companies that tend to have multiple host servers, this burden will eventually catch up with them. In the long run, they will have no other choice but to invest in additional infrastructure.

Virtual Machine Sprawls Are a Burden to Manage

If it takes your IT team two hours to completely deploy and set up automated backups for virtual machines, launching multiple virtual machines at the same time will burden the team. This means that they will have to spend extra hours catering to the virtual machines. Managing these VMs will require the intervention of extra agents.

Virtual machines mainly require management agents, antivirus software and even backup agents. With time, the cost is bound to mount up to uncontrollable levels which might cripple organizations with limited financial and human resources.

Virtual Machine Sprawls Increase the Security Risk Profile

As a rule of thumb, more code means a higher security risk. The more VMs you deploy, the larger your IT footprint gets and the higher the risk of a security breach. Most IT professionals will tend to argue against this claiming that VMs are created from already secured templates.

While this is true, there is the risk that lies in configuration drifts which can still occur with time. As you increase the number of virtual machines in your infrastructure, so does the time required to patch vulnerabilities increase. This has the potential to cripple your organization were a cybercriminal to identify vulnerabilities in one machine before you patch it.


Virtual machine sprawls are simply a disaster waiting to happen. Since this disaster is typically created internally, it should be easy to deal with. By documenting and controlling your virtual machine deployment frequency, you can avoid the above underlying threats.