Understanding the types of virtualization

January 30th, 2016

2016Jan29_Virtualization_AVirtualization has become the cornerstone for almost all businesses today – and for good reason. It is basically a process of creating a virtual version of a physical IT device. This, in turn, enables businesses to utilize their resources more effectively, while also reducing costs that come with managing and maintaining their infrastructure. Virtualization can be done in many different ways. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what can be virtualized, and how it can benefit your business.

Application Virtualization

This is a process where applications get virtualized and are delivered from a server to the end user’s device, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. So instead of logging into their computers at work, users will be able to gain access to the application from virtually anywhere, provided an Internet connection is available. This type of virtualization is particularly popular for businesses that require the use of their applications on the go.

Desktop Virtualization

Similar to Application Virtualization mentioned above, desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical device and configured as a “virtual desktop infrastructure” (VDI). The major advantages of desktop virtualization is that users are able to access all their personal files and applications from any location and on any PC, meaning they can work from anywhere without the need to bring their work computer. It also lowers the cost of licensing for installing software on desktops and maintenance and patch management is very simple, since all of the virtual desktops are hosted at the same location.

Hardware Virtualization

This is perhaps the most common type of virtualization today. Hardware virtualization is made possible by a virtual machine manager (VM) called the “hypervisor”. The hypervisor creates virtual versions of computers and operating systems and consolidates them into one large physical server, so that all the hardware resources can be utilized more efficiently. It also enables users to run different operating systems on the same machine at the same time.

Network Virtualization

Network virtualization is a method that combines all physical networking equipment into a single resource. It is the process of dividing bandwidth into multiple, independent channels, each of which can be assigned to servers and devices in real time. Businesses that would benefit from network virtualization are ones that have a large number of users and need to keep their systems up and running at all times. With the distributed channels, your network speed will increase dramatically, allowing you to deliver services and applications faster than ever before.

Storage Virtualization

This type of virtualization is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. Storage virtualization is handy when it comes to planning for disaster recovery, since the data stored on your virtual storage can be replicated and transferred to another location. By consolidating your storage into a centralized system, you can eliminate the hassles and costs of managing multiple storage devices.

Integrating virtualization into your business can be a complex and confusing process. Ideally you will enlist the help of experts to get the job done right. If you’re looking for top-quality and reliable virtualization solutions, why not get in touch with our professionals today. We’ll make your virtualization experience a quick and painless one.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 3rd, 2015

Virtualization_Dec2_AFor small or medium-sized business, getting a leg up on the competition can be the difference between simply surviving and thriving. One way of doing this is by embracing virtualization. Many SMBs have used virtualization techniques to great effect, but implementing a change can be difficult and time-consuming. Here are a few questions you should ask before virtualizing your office.

Sure, virtualization does sound fancy and expensive but, if done correctly, it can be of great benefit to your company. The process involves removing your physical equipment and instead running everything on virtual machines. This allows you to reduce expenses on equipment like servers – and, depending on your needs, even computers – while also freeing up valuable space in your office.

Before you start enjoying these benefits, or even beginning the process of virtualization at your company, there are questions you’ll need to be prepared to answer. We’re going to reveal three of the most important ones you should consider.

Who will handle the project?

Like any massive IT project, who will be overseeing the implementation of the new technology is vital to its success. There will be a lot to consider depending on whether you have an in-house IT department or utilize a Managed Services Provider to take care of your technology. Let’s take a brief look at the things you need to think about with each one.

In-house IT department – If you have IT staff on-site, the most cost-effective option would be delegating the virtualization to them. However, being cost-effective and being practical don’t always align in this situation. Before trusting your IT department with this project, you’ll want to get a better idea of their current workload, as well as what experience they have with virtualization technology. It could be in everyone’s best interests to outsource the project if you don’t believe your IT staff has the time or experience to get the project done.

Managed Services Provider – A lot of MSPs can help with the planning and execution of virtualization projects. This is normally a good thing, but make sure to ask a lot of questions in order to get a better understanding of what they do and don’t offer. Realistically, they should be able to make recommendations for your specific company and industry that align with your business goals. If you notice a lot of broad generalizations or get pigeonholed to a specific hardware manufacturer, you might consider talking with one or two other IT providers about your virtualization project.

Will you virtualize everything at once, or a little at a time?

This is a question that takes a lot of SMB owners by surprise. Many believe virtualization to be an either/or scenario, but the reality is that you can virtualize as much or as little of your technology as you want. Some businesses who are confident in the technology do it all at once, but a lot of companies take an incremental approach to their virtualization projects.

Normally, your answer to this question will come down to who’s managing the project and what your budget is. It’s not unusual for a business to start by virtualizing a few of their servers at a time. This allows you to better see just how the process works and what the benefits are. However, if you’re ready for a full-scale office virtualization, then by all means go for it; this will allow you to streamline everything into one project.

What about your applications?

Before you start the virtualization process, it’s good to come up with a list of which applications, if any, you need to be hosted at your premises. Sometimes a company may have one or two applications that they do not wish to be hosted on virtual servers. This is something you will want to take into account before the project begins, especially if you are virtualizing all of your servers. There is nothing worse than ditching everything only to realize afterwards that one or more of your applications need to remain on a physical server at your office.

We can help your organization turn virtualization into a realization. And if you’re impressed by our rhyming skills, you should check out our IT project management skills. We can help your business with all of its technology needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 1st, 2015

Virtualization_Sep30_AYou have probably heard about the benefits of virtualization, it’s been quietly changing how IT services are provided in the industry for some time now and is popular for improving office efficiency while decreasing costs. While these claims sound great, it’s always worth knowing more facts before taking on a new tech. Let’s take a look at some of the supposed benefits of virtualization and see if they are fact or fiction.

Virtualization involves the creation of a virtual version of your operating systems, servers storage devices or network resources so here’s what you need to know.

All virtualization is the same

FICTION – All virtualization is not the same. In fact, you will need to discuss with your IT person the aspects of your business you want to virtualize, in order to see what works best for you. For some companies, it only makes sense to virtualize servers and nothing else. On the other hand, some businesses will want to virtualize their desktops but keep their servers on-site. There are many different scenarios, and you need to find the one that works best for your business.

You can keep your current hardware/software/applications

FACT – Just because you virtualize one or more aspects of your IT doesn’t mean you will lose access to your current hardware, software or applications. As with anything, there are a few exceptions to this, but by and large it shouldn’t be a problem.

Technology flexibility is increased

FACT – Arguably the biggest benefit of virtualization is the flexibility you will have to put up and take down new servers as demand dictates. Like most companies, your business probably has peaks and valleys throughout the year; yet with physical servers, you have your capacity set regardless of if you’re using them or not.

This can create a problem for businesses, as often times they end up with a server capacity that isn’t large enough to handle the peak season, but is too much for slow periods. With virtualized servers you are able to customize your capacity throughout the year, giving you unmatched flexibility.

Managing IT is easier

FICTION – You will still need dedicated IT personnel who know what they are doing, regardless of whether you embrace virtualization or not. Like every other aspect of IT, virtualized equipment must be maintained and looked after accordingly. If not, it can fail. If you decide to go through with virtualization, managing your IT won’t necessarily be easier – just different.

Virtualization will save you money

FACT and FICTION – Virtualization can save you money depending on what aspect of your business you decide to virtualize. The greatest savings come with server virtualization, which sees pricey physical servers phased out, and the corresponding electricity costs associated with them removed as well. Of course, virtualized servers might bring more operational costs with them as the infrastructure becomes more complex.

You should perform a cost-benefit analysis before switching over to virtualized desktops. If your company just invested in new computers a year or two a go, switching them for virtual machines probably isn’t the best use of money. However, if it is time to replace your desktops anyway, then going with virtual machines as part of a wide-sweeping office virtualization might a great way to save.

At the end of the day, virtualization is complex, and its benefits will vary from company to company. The positives can be quite exceptional under the right circumstances, but it isn’t the right technology for everyone.

If you’re curious to see whether virtualization can help your business, or if you are looking for other IT solutions, contact us today for assistance.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 13th, 2015

164_Virt_AIs your data center sucking up energy? Are the costs of maintaining your server rooms out of control? For many business owners, the server room and data center are foreign lands they’d like to pretend don’t exist. But whether you acknowledge it or not, they could be costing you hundreds of extra dollars every month. Here’s what you can do to reduce costs.

Perform an energy audit

There’s a good chance your IT staff has never once thought about how much energy your server room and data center are consuming. So, the first step to rectifying this problem is to identify just how much power is being sucked up.

To get you started, here are a few questions to ask:

  • How much of the data center’s power budget goes to support systems?
  • How much goes to IT systems?
  • How much IT output do you get for every kilowatt/hour of power sucked up by your data center IT systems?
Answering these questions will help you determine just how efficient, or inefficient, your data center actually is.

Decrease the IT workload

When you save a single watt of energy at the server level, it can result in a total saving of nearly three watts in your data center costs.

So how do you decrease the IT workload? Virtualization is a common and effective tactic. Instead of wasting money on cooling your own servers in your data center, with virtualization you can have them hosted by your IT provider and then their technology delivered to you through the Internet. This allows you to eliminate some of your servers from your office and therefore reduce cooling costs.

For alternate ways to decrease server workload, you can also:

  • Eliminate unused servers
  • Consolidate servers
  • Purchase more energy-efficient technology

Mind your humidity and temperature levels

Because many non-IT personnel are terrified of the data center and simply don’t understand it, often they falsely believe that the room must be kept as cold as the North Pole in order to protect sensitive data. This is simply not true. While it is true that excessively high temperatures, humidity or dry conditions can harm your data, most modern-day data center equipment is incredibly durable and can tolerate a much wider range of humidity and temperatures than in decades past. Because of this, it is highly likely you can get away with a lot less cooling and dehumidification than you thought possible. That said, it’s wise to consult with an IT professional before doing this to ensure you don’t damage your data.

Another innovation that can help you cool down your data center more economically is utilizing an economizer system. This technology uses cool air from the outside to provide “free” cooling cycles for your data center.

Want more tips on reducing your overall IT bill? Curious to learn more about virtualization? Call us today to learn from one of our experts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 3rd, 2015

Virtualization_May28_AVirtual machines are a robust platform for storing data, documents and applications for most organizations today. But with the emergence of containers, another platform for virtual file storage, the question arises: which platform is right for my business? With that in mind, let’s take a look at how containers and virtual machines differ and which would be best for your organization.

Containers, just like virtual machines, are used for storing files, critical data and applications in an organized manner following specific access rules. So how do they differ from virtual machines, and what are the pros and cons of containers? We’ll take a look below.

Containers can pack a lot more applications into a single cloud or data center than a virtual machine can. And because containers only require little memory from an operating system and its supporting programs and libraries, you can put two to three times as many as applications on a single server with a container than you can with a virtual machine. In addition, containers allow you to create a portable, consistent operating environment for development, testing and deployment.

Still, there's a lot more to containers than how many apps you can put in a box, and not everything about them is sweet. One of the problems with containers that is often overlooked is security. Simply put, containers do not contain. What this means is that if a user or application has superuser privileges within the container, the underlying operating system could be cracked. And while you can secure containers by mounting a /sys filesystem as read-only among other options, it takes a lot of time and effort to do so.

Another container security issue stems from the release of many containerized applications. This is a problem because if you happen to install the first container that comes to hand, you’re likely to have brought a Trojan Horse into your server. You need to inform your staff and employees that they simply can’t download apps from the Internet into a container like they do games for their smartphone. Not only that, but breaking deployments into more functional discrete parts using a container is possible, but means more parts for you to manage. The whole point of a container is to run a single application, so the more functionality you stick into a container, the more likely it is you should actually be using a virtual machine in the first place.

So how do you decide between containers and virtual machines? Ask yourself whether you need to run the highest possible number of instances of a particular application on the fewest possible servers, because if so then containers are the best option for you. But if you want the flexibility of running multiple applications on your servers and you have a variety of operating systems, virtual machines are your safest bet.

Looking to learn more about how virtualization can help your business prosper? Contact us today - we’re sure we can tailor a solution that meets your unique needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.