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Applied virtualisation

01 Apr 2010

There are plenty of benefits and cost savings to be had from deploying a virtualised environment within your business. Before delving into the details, however, it’s worth looking at the bigger virtualisation picture. There are undoubtedly many companies out there wondering if it’s worth venturing down the virtualised route. In particular, they’ll want to know how much money can be saved up front by deploying some form of virtual environment (virtual desktop, virtual application or virtual server) and what the ongoing benefits will be for their business. While only a qualified virtualisation partner can offer firm numbers on cost savings after examining an individual business’s needs, it is common to see a reduction in physical servers when a business virtualises. For an organisation this has some key benefits: cost reduction from not having to purchase new physical hardware, lower power usage, reduction in environmental requirements in your server room/data centre, and the ability to meet the wider business IT requirements. But there’s more to this story than server virtualisation alone – desktop and even application virtualisation can play an important role in any comprehensive virtualisation deployment. For a business looking to add virtualisation to its corporate strategy, a solution-based approach that encompasses the needs of the company’s computing infrastructure as a whole is what any ICT manager should be considering. Employing a qualified technology partner to roll out an end-to-end solution will ensure everything works together seamlessly and maximises the benefits virtualisation has to offer. Not only that, but a qualified partner will be there to support the business should things go awry, or to update software when needed. Now, let’s take a closer look at desktop and application virtualisation. Rolling out a modern and more efficient operating system to client machines is a great way of increasing productivity, or perhaps your client has invested in new desktop hardware which comes complete with a set of licences for the latest operating system. Chances are their upgrade plans will be stymied by some non-compatible legacy or line-of-business applications that simply won’t run on the new OS. This is where desktop virtualisation enters the fray. Legacy applications can run in their native legacy operating system on top of the more modern one. Problem solved. Another scenario could be that a business needs to run two IT environments (for instance, development and test) on the same server infrastructure. Desktop virtualisation can fix this. What’s more, client desktop workloads (things such as operating system, applications and user data) can be hosted and executed on servers in the data centre. This shifts the demands of serious number crunching from the client to the server and means that users can access their virtual desktop from any client device. In a word, this means mobility. Application virtualisation, on the other hand, deals directly with the age-old scourge of IT managers everywhere – application incompatibilities. What application virtualisation does is remove the dependence on the operating system to share common files that it needs to run. And, perhaps more importantly, it removes the problem presented when a business needs to run two incompatible applications on a single OS. Here’s one scenario where application virtualisation can pay off. Your client’s business is running an older version of an office productivity suite and is considering upgrading to the latest version. You can’t install them both at the same time because they share certain files, and you don’t want to make a blind leap and upgrade without testing. Application virtualisation allows businesses to run both applications concurrently, in a virtualised state and in a non-disruptive manner. Applications could be streamed on demand over the network, or even the internet. This has ramifications not only in terms of simplifying compatibility and management issues, but can increase productivity. One thing is for sure: solutions-based virtualisation opens up a world of benefits for New Zealand businesses.

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