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virtual machine lifecycle management (VMLM)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Develop a solid virtualization capacity planning strategy
Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

Virtual machine lifecycle management (VMLM) is a set of processes designed to help administrators oversee the implementation, delivery, operation, and maintenance of virtual machines (VMs) over the course of their existence. A VM is a software implementation of a computing environment in which an operating system (OS) or program can be installed and run. The VM emulates a physical computing environment, but requests for resources are managed by a virtualization layer that translates the requests to the underlying hardware.

In many cases, a VM may outlast repeated upgrades to hardware, creating a so-called "immortal VM." The hypervisor is updated, but the VM keeps operating with no awareness of hardware evolution. As long as no hardware replacement crisis occurs, the VM keeps working more or less as it always has. In the long term, however, support grows unwieldy and needlessly expensive. An organization may have VMs running on several different major OS releases, requiring antivirus, security, asset management, monitoring, and other tools and staff to span all the versions.

Processes include:

Virtual machine lifecycle management tools are offered by several major vendors including Citrix Systems Inc., Scalable Software Ltd., VDIworks, Virtual Computer Inc., and VMware Inc.

This was last updated in April 2013

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