Feeds

How many VMs are on your LAN – and how sure are you?

Server sprawl is virtually back

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

Server virtualisation is taking companies back to the bad old days when they had no idea how many PCs and servers they had, because employees were buying them unchecked.

Now it is all too easy to run up a new virtual Windows server, without realising that under Microsoft's rules, each virtual machine (VM) needs its own software licence. As a result, company bosses risk being hit with large fines for running unlicensed systems, warns Walter Scott, the CEO of backup software developer Acronis.

"Right now people are bringing up machines without management knowing – in my company we had 12 added without my knowledge," he said. "We see a lot of customers trying to balance their VM count – they're losing control of it. It's like the server sprawl we saw 10 or 15 years ago.

"My concern is people will bring up unlicenced machines, and that's a big fine for wilful infringement."

He suggested this could even be one reason why Microsoft has sought to limit the number of times a Windows licence can be moved from server to server as part of a VM.

"I think software asset management is why Microsoft is changing its licensing," he said. "My understanding is that you're only allowed to move a VM so many times a year, they own't let you move it to and fro."

He pointed out that you can't find VMs with a physical asset check - you have to audit the network and hope they are online.

Even then, much network auditing software was written with physical servers in mind, and it can have problems detecting VMs, simply because it is not looking for the right things.

Craig Isaacs, president of Neon Software, said that while it is no problem for his LANsurveyor auditing tool to track VMs once they have been detected, it needed work to enable it to pick them up in the first place.

"We put special hooks into LANsurveyor for discovering and identifying VMs because people were having so many problems with understanding exactly what was running on their networks," he explained.

"In most cases it actually is no more difficult to discover the VMs and what's on them," agreed Francis Sullivan, CTO of Spiceworks, which is about to release a new version of its free IT management and discovery software.

"Of course, just like physical assets, people can configure them incorrectly making them undiscoverable or they can do that intentionally," he said. "The good news is that that's a small percent of the time."

Isaacs added that it's possible a VM won't be spotted on the first scan, particularly if attempts have been made to hide it, although a continuous network scan should pick it up later.

The irony in all this is that Walter Scott's company is at least partly responsible for the growing virtual sprawl and his resulting sleepless nights – as part of its backup mission, Acronis sells software that makes it easy to convert physical servers into virtual and vice versa. ®

Best practices for enterprise data

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations
Fix coming for bug that makes Kerberos croak when you run two domain controllers
Cisco says network virtualisation won't pay off everywhere
Another sign of strain in the Borg/VMware relationship?
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?