VM Poaching

Virtualization is the modern way building a datacenter or just running business application. It is simple, it saves money for hardware and power. It’s easier to provision servers, it’s easier to move servers, and it’s easier to decommission servers. It’s easier to set up networks. It’s easier from a management perspective all around. Like with physical servers, virtual machines also have operating system.

Operating system or applications running on it may have vulnerabilities or some bugs which at certain point could lead to unwanted behavior like occupying more and more system resource. In that case other virtual machines on the same host could become unresponsive or fail. This is called VM poaching.

VM poaching

VM poaching or Resource Hogging occurs when one VM Guest OS takes up more CPU or other resources allocated to it against the other Guest OS running in the same virtualized environment. A run-away VM can completely consume the hypervisor, thus starving rest of the VMs running within the hypervisor. VM poaching can occur with any of the hypervisor resources including memory, CPU, network and/or disk.

Mitigation techniques

To mitigate resource hogging on virtual machine host some simple but efficient steps are required: They include:

  • Patching guest OS regularly
  • Patching applications running in the guest OS
  • Using resource limitation for guest OS

More advance techniques is using application firewalls to protect running services in the guest OS.