Virtual machine sprawl is more common problem than believed. Backing up these VMs can become an expensive and time consuming proposition. It is important to take a step back and view the entire process of VM creation and backup / recovery in a holistic manner. There is a need to rationalise VM backup for cloud computing.
Uncontrolled VM sprawl can result in unscientific use of backup resources requisitioned from cloud service providers. It will also be a burden to the IT function. Therefore, decisions will have to be taken at the management level to institute an organisation wide policy that centralises the creation and deployment of virtual machines. A quick survey of existing VMs and the possibility of consolidating multiple VMs should be given a serious consideration. Unnecessary and rogue VMs should be deleted before the cloud backup process is initiated. This will help the organisation avoid the backup of stealth VMs and exhaustion of computing resources indiscriminately.
Virtual Machine rationalisation policies must include strict procedures for creation and deployment of virtual machines by anyone in the organisation with no exceptions. There should be strict procedures for implementing production system without appropriate approvals being sought and given. Backup needs should be clearly defined by the VM and data owners. The defined need should be subjected to an impact analysis and there should be clarity on what would be the consequences of backing up or not backing up the VM.
Rationalisation of VMs for backup and recovery in the cloud will only be possible if IT Administrators are equipped with the right tools to evaluate the virtual environment and arrive at the right solutions to the problem of VM sprawl. Monitoring tools should be made available to them in order to ensure that the environment continues to remain clean, and rogue VMs are not introduced at any point into the environment without appropriate approvals being given. All these efforts will help IT Administrators keep a tab on raw and provisioned storage resources, and ensure that resources are not wasted indiscriminately by anyone within the organisation by deploying unauthorised VMs. This will protect the organisation and help in quick recovery of digital assets in the event of disaster.