Virtualization Isn’t The Answer To Sprawl


Denis Gobo (BlogTwitter) wrote an article yesterday about SQL Server sprawl – the problem of database servers popping up from under desks, datacenter corners, and developer cubicles.  Part of the problem stems from SQL Server 2005 and earlier not requiring a license key, so they didn’t need a keygen hack or fake serial number.  Simply pop in the SQL Server CD, and next thing you know, there’s a new mission-critical part of the infrastructure.

SQL Server 2008 helps to slow down sprawl by requiring an installation key.  There’s still a free 180-day evaluation version of SQL Server that anyone can download, and it comes with built-in temporary registration numbers.  That doesn’t stop SQL Server sprawl altogether, but rather turns the problem into SQL Server time bombs.

Virtualization might seem like a solution because we can take these rogue instances out from under desks and put them in the datacenter.  Systems management software companies (Quest included) provide Physical-To-Virtual (P2V) converters that will make the process easier, and I’ve blogged about how to kill the dinosaurs with P2Vs.

When your company becomes really successful with virtualization, however, it turns out that virtualization makes the problem even worse!  Virtualization empowers sysadmins to quickly roll out new virtual machines based on templates.  In a matter of minutes, you can have a completely new Windows machine ready – perfect for use as a development server, testbed server, or proof-of-concept server.  Heck – it’s even easier than slapping SQL Server on a leftover machine under your desktop!

And that right there sums up the problem.

Suddenly it’s even easier to provision all-new servers.  Be careful with that licensing….

Previous Post
Are DBAs Losing Power?
Next Post
Twitter Down to a Denial of Service Attack

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Brent,

    Of course, you are correct. Virtualization doesn’t stop sprawl. But then it was never meant to. It is meant to greatly decrease the number of underutilized hardware instances within a datacenter. It is a hugely powerful tool for cutting costs.. etc, etc.. **put marketing hype here**

    Server sprawl of any type can only be limited through good governance of the entire IT environment. Taking actions to insure that new servers (or VMs) are actually justified and putting a bitch slap down on those that operate outside of policy.

  • Nice card, Mr. Bateman. This reminds me of that scene from American Psycho where they sit around comparing cards.

  • Wow, I replied to wrong article. I was reading Jeremiah’s article on his new card. WTF, where’d the page go? I’m worthless…

  • Funny, I was starting to blog on this today among other things about physical vs. virtual consolidation. I’m frustrated that people see virtualization as the panacea when in reality it’s part of the tools in the proverbial kit.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.