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Category Archives: virtualisation

Telecoms offering network virtualization

With virtualization yet to make its way into the lexicon of common tech phrases, many business owners are still trying to decipher the full extent of its value. Various aspects of the service have evolved over time, and we can probably expect more to come. For now, however, one of its existing functions is getting a boost from the likes of AT&T and Verizon. Virtualized network services are complex and often difficult to understand, but their value is unquestionable. Let’s delve a little deeper.

The overarching theme of virtualization is combining hardware and software resources into one large, communal pool where individual servers and workstations can pull as much as they need, rather than allocating them inefficient individual puddles that either go dry, or unused. In a workstation model, this is realized in the form of minimally equipped endpoints that access much more powerful software and hardware resource pools via web browser.

When it comes to network virtualization, it’s quite similar to virtual private networks, or VPNs. Developments in cloud and software functionalities allow administrators to eliminate time-consuming and micromanaged VPNs while achieving the same swift and secure connections between servers, workstations, and other network-enabled devices residing in physically separate networks. VPNs are like pumps between each of your network ‘puddles,’ individual pieces that require individual maintenance. Network virtualization is like installing one pump with on/off switches on each outbound pipe.

This means that setting up a VPN for the addition of a satellite office is as simple as inputting a few simple pieces of information to gain a world of seemingly local network possibilities. In another example, rather than recabling your office when one department becomes too cumbersome to fit on one switch or hub, connections and protocols can be expanded and redefined by a software client.

With the increasing popularity of any service with the word ‘virtualized’ in it, telecom carriers Verizon and AT&T have begun offering this service to clients. Whether it’s because your business has a growing list of locations, or because your local network needs the flexibility to grow swiftly without waiting for costly hardware and software expansions, these services have you covered.

Both Verizon and AT&T will offer three ways to manage your virtualized network: locally, from the cloud, or a hybrid combination of the two. Once you’ve decided on a framework and deployment strategy, make sure to take time with the transition. Established networks are complex and messy ordeals, and it’s better to start migrating those puddles over time rather than all at once. Instead, move them one-by-one so any problems that arise can also be dealt with one-by-one.

Although consumer-level companies like AT&T and Verizon are offering this service, not just anyone can hop on and start getting the most out of a virtualized network. It takes expert configuration, deployment, and most importantly maintenance. With 24/7 coverage of your network, we eat, sleep, and breathe cutting-edge technology. Call us today and we’ll bring your SMB into the age of virtualization.

Enterprise level virtualization for clients

Virtualization has permanently changed the world of IT and computing and bringing with it the overhaul of IT architecture and workflow. One would think that it would reach its saturation point sooner or later but with constant innovation and development, virtualization has permeated and penetrated deep as to reach the client level. Here are three virtualization options for SMB’s wishing to optimize their tech resources:

Presentation virtualization

As hinted in the name, it is an application delivery method that delivers desktops or applications from a shared server. This enables access to client applications from a central server that is connected with clients. This initiates a presentation session through a web portal while giving them access to a virtualized application instance on a shared Windows Server OS. The only resources shared with the client is the graphical user interface as well as the mouse/keyboard.

Benefits of this presentation virtualization range from reduced user resource needs to simplicity, since applications are installed only once despite multiple users sharing the same application instance and even server level administration since multiple users are sharing the resources of the same system.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Sharing similarities with presentation virtualization, VDI solutions are also a remote display protocol that hosts centrally-managed virtual machines (VMs) that client PCs are connected to on a one-on-one network relationship. Also known as desktop virtualization, this method utilizes a hypervisor that is in charge of hosting a dedicated operating system VM for each client individually. Due to the fact that each client is totally separate from one another on the server, this option allows for flexibility, management and security.

Why VDI? Firstly, it saves you more money since it has smaller software licensing requirements and it also reduces the need for staff to manage and troubleshoot problems. It also allows for secure mobile access to applications by enabling hardware-based GPU sharing through a secure connection from any device as well as better desktop security thanks to customizable permissions and settings. Lastly, it allows for easier maintenance – after logging off at the end of the day the desktop can be reset wiping clean any downloaded software customizations.

Application virtualization

Application virtualization is capable of allowing applications to run in environments that are foreign to the them, for example Wine allows some Microsoft Windows apps to run on Linux. By establishing a common software baseline across multiple computers within an organization, application virtualization also reduces system integration and administration costs. Finally, it enables simplified operating system migrations, whereby applications can be transferred to removable media or between computers without having to install them: effectively becoming portable software.

Not only has virtualization revolutionized the world of IT and computing, but it also has the potential to do the same for your business.

How to manage virtualization security risks

When it comes to security, topics like the cloud and networks get wide coverage on Internet blogs and forums. However, other types of technology fly completely under the radar. Virtualization just so happens to fall into this category. And just because people aren’t talking about it doesn’t mean virtualized machines and infrastructure should be left unsecured. If you don’t have the right defense in place, you’re leaving your business vulnerable to hackers and cyber threats. Here are some of the major risks of insufficient virtualization security and a few methods to prevent them.

Security risks of virtualization

Complex infrastructure – much like the topic of virtualization itself, the infrastructure of a virtualization solution can oftentimes be confusing to small businesses. The extra layers of infrastructure complexity added by virtualization can make it more difficult to spot anomalies and unusual events happening in your virtual machines and network.

Dynamic design – the design of a virtualized environment is dynamic by nature and constantly changing. Unlike adding physical equipment, which is a bit of an event as you make room for it in your office and install it, the addition of virtual machines can go almost completely unnoticed as they’re created in a matter of minutes and aren’t visible in your workspace. The danger here is the age old adage, “out of sight out of mind.” And if you add too many, they can easily become difficult to manage and secure, creating security holes in the process.

Quick moving workloads – as your virtualized infrastructure grows, there will come a time when you need to move workloads from one machine to another. While this may sound harmless enough, the real issue is that your virtual machines will likely require different levels of security. And when you’re juggling multiple workloads over multiple virtual machines, you may accidentally move mission critical workloads to a machine with a low level security, creating a security hole in the process.

How to mitigate risks

While these three risks may sound alarming, they can all be mitigated. The key behind effectively securing your virtual machines all comes down to process. Put some thought into your security processes and then implement them. Here are a few areas to cover:

  • Organization – decide how and where to separate your test, development and production virtual machines.
  • Audit – develop a system to regularly audit your virtual machine security. Whenever possible, use tools to automate your security checks, balances and processes.
  • Patches – Perform regular security patch maintenance, and create a schedule to ensure your patches are up-to-date for all virtual machines.
  • Overflow management – When you have so many virtual machines they’re hard to track, you need a system in place to monitor them. So be aware of what each virtual machine is used for, and manage it accordingly. While doing this, find ways to consolidate machines whenever possible and get rid of the ones under utilized.
  • Responsibility – to ensure the security of your virtual machines doesn’t slip through the cracks, designate one IT technician or manager to be responsible for it.

If you prioritize security of your virtual machines and properly manage them, security can truly be a non-issue. If you’d like additional assistance with your virtualized infrastructure or would like to implement a new virtualization solution, give us a call today.

5 types of virtualization defined ☁️

For many businesses, managing and maintaining their entire hardware and software infrastructure can be a daunting and prohibitively expensive task. But with the inception of virtualization, this is no longer an issue. Virtualization allows businesses to maximize the use of their IT resources at a reduced cost – this is why it has become so popular in the past few years. While there are many different types of virtualization on the market, it’s best to choose the ones that fit your needs. Here, we give you an overview of five virtualization methods and how they can prove useful for your business.

Application Virtualization

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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 mentioned above, this 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 – Hardware 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

This 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 v 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 is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. Storage v. 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 v. 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.

Understanding the types of virtualization

Virtualisation 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. This 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 Virtualisation mentioned above, desktop 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 virtualisation today. It 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

This 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 is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. This 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 this 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 virtualisation solutions, why not get in touch with our professionals today. We’ll make your virtualization experience a quick and painless one.

Don’t virtualize without answers

11For 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.

Realizing the facts of virtualization

The facts of virtualization

You 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.

facts of virtualization: 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.

facts of virtualization: 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.

facts of virtualization: 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.

facts of virtualization: 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.

facts of virtualization: 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.

Save energy in your data center

Save energy in your data center

Is your data center sucking up energy? Are 164_Virt_Athe 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.

This entry was posted in General Articles A, Virtualization – General and tagged data center, energy audit, humidity, it workload,server room, Technology, temperature. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

4 common data visualization mistakes

BusinessIntelligence_Jul21_BData visualizations, when done properly, are the best and easiest way for us to understand a vast amount of information. Businesses are able to utilize data visualizations to great advantage, from summarizing annual sales report to visualizing marketing strategies in an easy-to-understand format, and much more. A poorly presented visualization, however, can not only show misleading information, but it might also confuse business users into making wrong decisions. Make sure you don’t fall victim to these common data visualization mistakes.

Inconsistent visualizations
It’s important to be consistent when presenting your data, otherwise users will have to stop and figure out how to read each new picture before they can comprehend what it says, wasting time and defeating the purpose of data visualization. Luckily, there are some best practices you can follow. For instance, try choosing colors that go well together. Use only 2-3 colors at most throughout your visualization – any more and you’ll find that your pictures might be hard to read. Also, use the same iconography and typography in each picture so your audience can quickly understand the information.

Displaying too much data
Overly complicated data visualizations are sure to turn off most audiences because they can’t figure out where and what to focus on. Your customers, colleagues, and employers want specific, relevant answers. The quicker you can deliver those answers, the better. Irrelevant data gives your presentation a cluttered look, making finding relevant information more difficult for readers. The solution? Find a compromise between showing too much data and not showing enough overall. Use good judgement.

Oversimplifying data
The purpose of data visualization is to present data in a way that’s easy to understand. While it’s all too easy to simplify data, if you go too far and leave out crucial parts, your audiences won’t be able to see or grasp the main point of the presentation. Instead of trying to oversimplify data, it’s better to include all important criteria and organize them into a structure so audiences can easily understand what’s being presented to them.

Choosing the wrong visualization
This is one of the most common mistakes made in data visualization. There are many different types of data out there, and each of those types require different analytics and tools to use. For example, if you want to present a sales growth comparison in the last 5 years, it’s better to use bar charts that can clearly show the difference at a glance. If you want to show a relationship between two metrics, on the other hand, you should use a scatter chart to show results.

The best way to avoid all these errors is to focus on your goals first. It’s likely that you’ll have to make changes along the way, which is actually a good thing, because it will make your presentation more accurate and effective.

Want to learn more about other business intelligence tools to implement in your company? Give us a call today.

This entry was posted in Business Intelligence, General Articles B and tagged 2015Jul21_BusinessIntelligence_B, Business Intelligence, business tools, Data, Data visualization, presentation, QS_3. Bookmark the permali

Not virtualising is costing you money

164_Virt_CHow “not virtualising” is costing you money

You’ve probably had someone tell you before that “virtualisation saves money.” But have you ever thought about what this actually means? And do you know just how virtualisation does this? The truth is that, in this day and age, choosing not to virtualise can actually hurt your profits. To demonstrate this, we have compiled four questions you need to ask yourself about your current IT expenses to prove once and for all that virtualisation is a better solution.

Studies have shown that over 70% of IT budgeting is put towards simply “keeping the lights on.” If that sounds like a lot of money, that’s because it is. You’re likely spending thousands of dollars powering your IT equipment and paying your staff to manage it. And the truth is that it just doesn’t have to be that way. Virtualisation can eliminate all those costs for a smoother running solution that you’ll never have to worry about.

So if you’re ready to examine your IT budget and see for yourself, here are 4 questions you need to ask about virtualisation:

1. What’s the cost of your data center?

We’re talking about the whole kit and caboodle: your servers, backup power supplies, air conditioning, security devices, and the overhead costs for the space to store all of this.

2. How much do you spend on cooling your servers?

Keeping your servers cool is a fact of life. Have you ever considered how much this is costing you?

3. How much is being budgeted towards cabling and adapters?

Don’t forget about these. We’re talking about not only the physical cables and adaptors, but also the costs of maintenance.

4. How much does it cost your IT staff to manage these resources?

It takes time for your staff to manage your IT. Time is money.

How does virtualisation eliminate these costs? With virtualisation you can kiss the data center, servers, cables and adapters goodbye (hello new office space). Instead, we store all your equipment off-site and deliver it to you via the Internet. Your computers and network continue to function normally. The only difference is they’re out of sight and out of mind. This equals lower maintenance costs, fewer overheads, less equipment, and fewer headaches.

And let’s not forget the time it costs to manage all of your IT equipment. With virtualisation, we do this for you. This frees up the time of your current IT staff, allowing them to focus on more important things – like your business’s IT strategy and market changes. Better still, you may even have the option to completely eliminate the need for in-house IT staff. How’s that for cost savings?

Ready to make the switch to virtualisation? Need more of your questions answered? Let’s talk today.

This entry was posted in Virtualisation – General and tagged Budget, Computers, cost-saving, data centre, manage, Servers, time, Virtualisation. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.