While virtualization technology certainly helps reduce some of the most important problems for IT organizations, there’s a potential downside.  Many organizations have found that they’re ill-equipped to manage the dozens or hundreds of VMs that tend to pop-up once virtualization software has been deployed.  Some of these deployments circumvent IT, while others just slip in under the radar.  For example, VMs that are only occasionally powered on or that are not connected to external networks can be overlooked entirely.  When they’re brought online, they’re often out-of-date with respect to patches.

Megan Santosus recently interviewed me for her SearchServerVirtualization.com article, Does virtualization need special management tools?  From the article:

If server virtualization has a dark side, it may be virtual machine (VM) sprawl. The principal problem created by sprawl is that IT administrators can’t certify that all deployed VMs meet an organization’s policies and procedures just as they would certify physical servers. "Deploying VMs at many organizations circumvents the standard processes for deploying physical servers," noted SearchServerVirtualization.com contributor Anil Desai.

The main idea is that virtualization-aware tools are a must for organizations that must maintain control of their production deployments.  Embotics is one of many organizations that has understood that need and has developed products that are focused on virtual environments.  For more details, see the White Paper that I wrote for Embotics, titled Controlling VM Sprawl: Best Practices for Maintaining Control of Virtualized Infrastructures.