Virtualisation is steadily becoming the de facto standard for organisations wishing to upgrade their IT systems. This is not entirely surprising as it is the key technology providing the foundations for cloud infrastructures, as well as providing organisations with the ability to rationalise their IT, resulting in increased efficiency, rapid ROI and an improvement in total cost of ownership.
There are five key components of virtualisation that organisations need to consider when future-proofing their systems, including application, desktop, network, server and storage.
A virtualised server enables organisations to run many virtual servers on a single high density host or introduce fault tolerance and high availability with a multi host solution. Server virtualisation has been at the forefront of the cloud computing movement and continues to be the most practical and cost effective platform for server side computing.
Also known as ‘thin client computing’, this solution removes local desktop operating systems and centralises the delivery of them (as with applications only) for the entire user desktop – for example, Windows 8. This technology is a perfect fit to enable branch offices and mobile or home working solutions as well as being the best strategy for desktop roll out and management.
This enables organisations to centralise the installation of user applications, so that they can be more easily deployed and maintained to large groups of users spread across many locations. Coupled with desktop virtualisation, these solutions reduce complexity and cost whilst boosting productivity and security in what has traditionally been the hardest area of the IT landscape to control.
Storage virtualisation enables the provision of virtual pools of storage to servers and desktops, effectively eliminating wasted physical storage space. As the total amount of committed physical storage goes up, more disks can be added easily without the need to move data or resize data volumes.
There has been a recent surge in interest in network virtualization technologies. Also known as Software-Defined Networking (SDN), it is the process of overlaying a physical network (hardware and software resources and functionality) with a virtual network – decoupling the control layer from the physical hardware that routes the network packets. A well-designed network virtualisation solution can enhance visibility due to the capability of monitoring and troubleshooting virtual networks and provides the important building blocks for delivering future enterprise and hybrid, private and public cloud services.
Ultimately, virtualisation allows businesses to uncouple applications, desktops, servers and data from being dependent on any one physical device, helping to increase flexibility, agility and IT responsiveness. It allows organisations to select and use the best products in any particular category and can reduce CAPEX, enabling organisations to benefit from predictable OPEX budgeting. It is the future of IT and an important issue for businesses to consider if they are to stay competitive.