This may not be the most technical post, but it should hopefully give VM administrators some ideas on managing their VMs.
Despite having tools like VirtualCenter, keeping track of your VMs can still be a mission. Today I look after thousands of virtual machines running on hundreds of ESX hosts in several data centres. Most of these VMs are production systems, some are clones of production systems, some are test and some are dev. Creating and managing machines for new services is not always an issue. We have processes in place to control VM sprawl. We know which VMs belongs to which customers. We also know who to contact in regards to which VM. This is all documented in change records and CMDBs. However, having to go back to CMDBs and change records every time you need to know who owns a VM is a bit of a slog. Sure we’ve tried adding relevant information into the “Notes” Attribute, but it gets messy and some administrators “forget” to add all the information we need into the notes.
To try and keep track of who owns what, I use a simple but very effective tool inside vCenter to manage VMs. It’s the “Custom Attribute” function of vCenter that allows administrators to specify custom attributes for all the VMs and hosts in vCenter. Custom Attributes are by no means a new feature in Virtual Infrastructure or vSphere, yet a lot of administrators don’t use them as they simply don’t realise that custom attributes functions exists or what custom attributes are for. I’ve seen many virtual Infrastructures built on VMware VI 3 (small environments to large enterprise environments) and I simply can’t recall ever seeing custom attributes being used.