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Virtual machine (VM) sprawl or virtualization sprawl is the phenomenon which occurs when the number of virtual machines connected to the network exceeds the network's capabilities.
VM sprawl often happens when there is freedom to provision instances because of a lack proper implemented policies regarding provisioning.
To prevent VM sprawl, a proper virtual machine life cycle management (VMLM) has to be implemented, with tools that allow administrators to oversee the implementation, operation, delivery and maintenance of all virtual machines during their entire existence. In such a way, all VM creation are monitored so accountability can be set, and then each created VM can be decommissioned once their purpose has been served.