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VM automation

VM automation is the ability for a virtual machine (VM) to perform basic functions and optimize performance on its own or with minimal manual input. An important goal of VM automation is to minimize human errors and reduce the amount of time it takes for information technology administrators to manage a large, logical infrastructure.

VM automation tools can help with the completion of routine tasks, as well as the migration and placement of VMs. Placement is the process of determining where each virtual machine will operate and who will be its host. Migration involves balancing data and processing loads by moving VMs to optimize the use of host memory and processing power.

VM automation has many benefits but it's not suited to every workload or environment. While it works well for the creation and management of large numbers of VMs but for smaller organizations, the work and cost of tools required to implement VM automation can be detrimental to the cost-efficiency of the VMs themselves in a small environment. Tools built specifically for the automating virtual machine management at the enterprise level include VMWare vSphere PowerCLI and the VMWare vRealize Suite.

VM automation levels

The automation level for a virtual machine can be changed in the settings of software such as vSphere and levels of automation can be customized within different VMs. Possible levels include:

  • Manual - The system makes recommendations but does not implement them until the user manually makes the changes.
  • Fully automated - The system immediately implements changes.
  • Partially automated - The system makes some changes such as placement, or which host a virtual machine is nested within, but only suggests others, such as migration, or how various VMs are moved around in order to load balance a larger network.
  • Disabled - The system does not suggest or change anything.
This was last updated in July 2019

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