The concept of virtualisation is all about doing more with a smaller budget, less space and fewer staff. Midsize companies have long wanted to leverage the benefits of virtualisation that enterprises enjoy-including lower infrastructure costs, management efficiencies and better disaster recovery-but the technology has been too expensive and complex to deploy and manage without a big IT staff.
Today, however, the conundrum is gone. A new generation of virtualisation technology is available to upgrade the midsize infrastructure and prepare the business for growth. The best news: This technology isn't just miniaturised enterprise technology; it's designed specifically with the smaller company in mind.
Here are three scenarios in which virtualisation can help midsize companies start doing more with less-and finally harness the power of IT as a competitive advantage.
Server and storage consolidation
A lot of midsize companies undertake server and storage consolidation initiatives to cut costs and maximize investments.
Consolidating through virtualisation can amplify all of those benefits. Why? Instead of running one operating system on one server, you can virtualise that server so that it can run many operating systems – and applications – at the same time.
HP's ProLiant iVirtualization technology lets you start creating virtual machines in minutes-affordably and easily. Simply plug a USB key into a ProLiant server. The server boots directly from the USB key, which contains the virtualization software you need.
That simple change leads to some dramatic benefits.
First, you can boost each machine's utilization rates, leading to faster return on investment. You can buy new servers less often and even retire some of those old machines that have outlived their use. Fewer servers require less physical space, saving money by powering and cooling less equipment. You can improve reliability and performance by connecting virtual servers to a storage array enabling high availability and load balancing between different physical hosts. Finally, a single IT employee can manage far more servers in far less time.
Midsize companies can get even more benefits out of server virtualisation by deploying a virtualised blade environment.
Virtualisation and shared storage enables high availability at a single site, but what about offsite disaster recovery? Many companies plan for disaster recovery by replicating a single server to a failover server in a second location. Some businesses maintain that one-to-one ratio of primary servers to failover servers as they grow. Over time, however, that ratio can become expensive to maintain.
Every server purchase actually requires a second server purchase for failover, along with twice the expenses: installation, real estate, and power and cooling, to name a few.
Implementing virtualization as part of your disaster recovery plan changes the one-to-one ratio into a many-to-one ratio, minimising the cost of business continuity and availability. In other words, you can replicate multiple servers or applications to a single failover server running multiple virtual machines. All of the consolidation benefits
you would get at your primary site are matched at your backup site.
Virtualisation for PCs
Most midsize businesses assign one PC to one user. That seems like the most straightforward approach, but it presents some big management issues. Each machine requires individual support, upgrades, security patches, backup and administration. The more the business grows, the larger the PC management headache becomes.
A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can help mitigate those management challenges because it increases security, decreases management and hardware costs, and increases PC availability while continuing to give users the same functionality of a stand-alone desktop.
Using VDI, you can host desktops inside virtual machines that run on centralised servers. Employees simply use a thin client-such as a basic, inexpensive laptop or a handheld device-to access their virtual desktops remotely. Instead of loading personal machines with sensitive information and risking exposure, employees save all of their data to a centrally managed storage environment.
Supporting, upgrading, securing, administering and backing up PC data is a much simpler, centralised task-a task that can be automated and managed by far fewer people.