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Application sprawl is the growth of an IT system to include more applications, and to use more resources overall. Systems that suffer from inefficiency due to poor design are often talked about in terms of application sprawl.
The key idea with application sprawl is that each application is hungry for resources, but there are only so many resources to go around. Therefore, systems can benefit from a deliberate, detailed approach to adding applications.
One question is whether individual applications are truly needed, or if they are just added capriciously. There is also the question of whether applications are being served efficiently, for example, by virtual machines in virtualized systems. With that in mind, solutions to applications often include cutting down the number of applications used, as well as cleaning up IT systems to serve each application efficiently. A network professional may look at where applications are in an IT system, and how they are served by various VMs that in turn take CPU and memory from a central pool. By changing the ways that applications live in a system, planners can open up space and conserve resources. To fight application sprawl, engineers take a detailed look at every component of a greater system and plan its operations in more minute detail.