What is Zombie VM (Virtual Machine) and How to Handle VM Sprawl.

  1. Introduction to Zombie VM (Virtual Machine)
  2. Understanding VM Sprawl
  3. The Impact of Zombie VMs
  4. Identifying Zombie VMs
  5. Causes of VM Sprawl
  6. Consequences of VM Sprawl
  7. Strategies to Handle VM Sprawl
  8. Implementing VM Lifecycle Management
  9. Automating VM Provisioning and Decommissioning
  10. Optimizing Resource Allocation
  11. Implementing VM Rightsizing
  12. Monitoring and Performance Management
  13. Implementing Chargeback and Showback
  14. Implementing VM Consolidation
  15. Conclusion

Introduction to Zombie VM (Virtual Machine)

A Zombie VM, also known as a Virtual Machine, is a term used to describe a virtual machine that is no longer in use but still consumes valuable resources within an IT infrastructure. These resources can include CPU, memory, storage, and network bandwidth. Zombie VMs are often created for temporary purposes, such as testing or development, but are not properly decommissioned after their use, leading to VM sprawl.

Understanding VM Sprawl

VM sprawl refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of virtual machines within an IT environment. It occurs when virtual machines are created without proper planning, monitoring, and management. VM sprawl can result in a variety of issues, including increased hardware and software costs, decreased performance, security vulnerabilities, and difficulties in resource allocation and capacity planning.

The Impact of Zombie VMs

Zombie VMs can have a significant impact on an organization’s IT infrastructure. They consume valuable resources that could be used by active virtual machines, leading to decreased performance and increased costs. Additionally, Zombie VMs can pose security risks if they are not properly maintained and patched, as they may contain vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors.

Identifying Zombie VMs

Identifying Zombie VMs within an IT environment can be challenging, as they may appear to be active virtual machines. However, there are several indicators that can help in identifying Zombie VMs. These include low or no network activity, low CPU and memory utilization, outdated operating systems or software versions, and lack of user logins or activity.

Causes of VM Sprawl

VM sprawl can be caused by a variety of factors. Some common causes include lack of proper governance and policies regarding virtual machine creation and decommissioning, lack of monitoring and oversight, lack of communication and coordination between IT teams, and the ease of creating virtual machines without proper justification or approval.

Consequences of VM Sprawl

The consequences of VM sprawl can be significant. It can lead to increased hardware and software costs, as more resources are required to support a larger number of virtual machines. VM sprawl can also result in decreased performance, as the available resources are spread thin across a larger number of virtual machines. Additionally, VM sprawl can introduce security vulnerabilities, as Zombie VMs may not receive regular security updates and patches.

Strategies to Handle VM Sprawl

There are several strategies that organizations can implement to effectively handle VM sprawl and mitigate the impact of Zombie VMs. These strategies include implementing VM lifecycle management, automating VM provisioning and decommissioning, optimizing resource allocation, implementing VM rightsizing, monitoring and performance management, implementing chargeback and showback, and implementing VM consolidation.

Implementing VM Lifecycle Management

VM lifecycle management involves establishing policies and procedures for the creation, deployment, monitoring, and decommissioning of virtual machines. It ensures that virtual machines are created and decommissioned in a controlled and organized manner, reducing the risk of Zombie VMs. VM lifecycle management also includes regular audits to identify and remove any inactive or unnecessary virtual machines.

Automating VM Provisioning and Decommissioning

Automating VM provisioning and decommissioning can help streamline the process and reduce the risk of VM sprawl. By implementing automation tools and workflows, organizations can ensure that virtual machines are created and decommissioned according to predefined policies and procedures. This reduces the chances of Zombie VMs being left active and consuming resources unnecessarily.

Optimizing Resource Allocation

Optimizing resource allocation involves effectively allocating resources to virtual machines based on their needs and usage patterns. By analyzing resource utilization data and implementing resource allocation policies, organizations can ensure that virtual machines have the necessary resources to operate efficiently without wasting resources. This can help prevent VM sprawl and reduce the impact of Zombie VMs.

Implementing VM Rightsizing

VM rightsizing involves adjusting the resources allocated to virtual machines to match their actual needs. By regularly monitoring resource utilization and adjusting resource allocations accordingly, organizations can optimize resource usage and prevent overprovisioning. This can help reduce the number of Zombie VMs and improve overall resource efficiency.

Monitoring and Performance Management

Monitoring and performance management play a crucial role in identifying and managing Zombie VMs. By implementing monitoring tools and processes, organizations can track resource utilization, network activity, and other performance metrics to identify inactive or underutilized virtual machines. Regular performance analysis can help identify and decommission Zombie VMs, reducing the impact of VM sprawl.

Implementing Chargeback and Showback

Implementing chargeback and showback mechanisms can help create accountability and awareness regarding resource usage. Chargeback involves allocating costs to different departments or business units based on their resource consumption, while showback provides visibility into resource usage without actual cost allocation. By implementing these mechanisms, organizations can encourage responsible resource usage and discourage the creation of unnecessary virtual machines.

Implementing VM Consolidation

VM consolidation involves consolidating multiple virtual machines onto a smaller number of physical servers. By identifying and migrating virtual machines that are underutilized or have similar resource requirements, organizations can reduce the overall number of virtual machines and optimize resource usage. This can help reduce the impact of VM sprawl and improve resource efficiency.


In conclusion, Zombie VMs and VM sprawl can have significant implications for an organization’s IT infrastructure. By implementing strategies such as VM lifecycle management, automation, resource optimization, rightsizing, monitoring, chargeback/showback, and consolidation, organizations can effectively handle VM sprawl and mitigate the impact of Zombie VMs. Regular monitoring, auditing, and proactive management are key to ensuring a well-optimized and efficient virtualized environment.

Unmasking Tech

Unmasking Tech

Your go-to guide for deciphering tech jargon. We decode and simplify complex terms, expressions, and concepts from the tech universe, from AI to Blockchain, making them easy to understand.

About Us

We are ‘Unmasking Tech’, a dedicated team of tech enthusiasts committed to demystifying the world of technology. With a passion for clear, concise, and accessible content, we strive to bridge the gap between tech experts and the everyday user.

Ready to Level Up?

Unlock your potential in the world of IT with our comprehensive online course. From beginner concepts to advanced techniques, we've got you covered. Start your tech journey today!