Businesses that are ready to move toward a virtualized infrastructure need to consider all sides of implementation costs when developing their IT budget for 2014. Contrary to popular perception, making the full move to a virtualized environment involves three different kinds of costs associated with IT projects: hardware, software, and labor.
SMBs face a number of IT challenges- soaring hardware costs, under-utilization of hardware, over-utilization of employees, security vulnerabilities and decreasing storage space. All organizations struggle with one or more of these challenges, but SMBs in particular have limited bandwidth for dealing with these difficulties. Virtualization can help reduce, or even eliminate, some of these issues completely. Let's examine a few ways that virtualization can help your SMB become leaner and more efficient with its IT operations.
Companies that wish to vet and/or implement a virtualization strategy using VMware's products can benefit from using an IT consulting firm in their search, where one or more of the experts on staff possess the high-level certification known as VMware Certified Professional (VCP). Earning the certification requires candidates to complete VMware-authorized training courses pass several rigorous exams.
Some businesses and organizations that have already implemented a managed services approach as part of their IT solutions suite may already have heard of "block level storage virtualization," but for others, the term will be a new one.
Microsoft Hyper-V is its third generation virtualization software available as part of Server 2012 or as a free standalone package. Even though its core offering is free, you'll now gain features that you previously would have expected to pay for. This can certainly be a game changer to organizations looking to save money on licensing while benefiting their IT infrastructure. Let's look at some of Hyper-V's biggest highlights.
Network environments in business are changing on a constant basis, but the typical system to authenticate and verify users' identities tends to be inflexible. Many packages that seek to deliver secure authentication assume that the environment is homogenous, which implies that it is unchanging as well. Directory integration, however, can be streamlined and improved using virtualization technologies that go beyond the assumption that all systems are operating on an SSO (single sign on) basis.
One of the largest trends in the world of business computing is converged architecture, which is widely seen as one of the best IT solutions for addressing the increasing sprawl of IT resources. As companies have added networking devices, servers, and storage units to their systems over time, they have seen more and more "silos" develop in their infrastructure.
The world of technology continues to evolve with the demand for better business solutions. Technological advancements, in IT especially, have become driven by capitalism as demand becomes greater for more streamlined and less expensive operational models. One on-trend new offering that aims to streamline business operations and promote collaboration among employees is VMware's Project Octopus. The "first viable Enterprise cloud file sharing application" promises to be the next big advancement for the modern business model in cloud computing, mobility, virtualization, and other key areas of IT impacting the way businesseses function today. Project Octopus boasts the ability to enable users to collaborate easier in a BYOD-focused market; many are calling it the start of a PC-free era in business.
To protect the privacy and integrity of this information, IT security administrators monitor systems for vulnerabilities, following HIPAA security compliance standards. When a system has a large number of devices to monitor, it provides more opportunity for intrusions to occur. Internal IT teams do their best, but manually auditing security processes may not be an adequate solution to the problem. It can take large amounts of time both to implement and then to maintain the measures to protect the organization adequately from viruses and other attacks. That is why many healthcare organizations decide to outsource in order to satisfy compliance standards. Outsourcing a business's security and streamlining the monitoring process also allows for a more effective and secure networked.
The first step for healthcare providers to become compliant is to ensure that their internal policies are in accordance with HIPAA standards. When these standards are followed, patient data is more likely to remain private and secure, and the healthcare provider is seen as a dependable, reliable, and trustworthy entity. To help maintain compliance, the use of virtualization can be a successful solution.
Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than physical) machine on an existing device, such as a hardware platform, operating system or storage device. Building a secure network and maintaining a vulnerability management program on fewer machines allows IT professionals to spend less time monitoring and maintaining the security of their devices. Through virtualization, a healthcare provider's IT department can efficiently:
- Protect confidential data and critical IT systems, prevent loss of data, and automate an organization's compliance policies and processes
- Develop solutions that increase a healthcare organization's business and IT agility
- Automatically identify and protect databases and storage devices that contain sensitive and private data like social security numbers and credit card information
- Create practical policies that ensure patient privacy
- Secure IT systems while meeting compliance requirements
In 2004, EMC Corporation purchased a company called VMware. EMC, a well known company for their information management, data storage, and other related services, purchased VMware to expand their presence in the virtualization space. VMware provides virtualization software, which enables one physical machine to act as several, independent ones. There are many advantages in terms of data storage of this partnership.
What the EMC/VMware integration means for your business:
Many organizations use on-site storage for their most sensitive data. This allows them to access the data whenever it is needed and without delay. Additionally, the organization can also protect that data physically using preferred means. But this solution may not work for all organizations. Sometimes storage solutions, especially for companies in the New York area, may be better hosted off-site by a third party vendor. It can allow for greater and more efficient growth of the business, increased performance of employees who are able to attend to their own tasks, as well as greater cost savings. Here is an example of how one law firm benefited greatly by using an outsourced storage solution.
At the time, Blank Rome LLP, one the largest law firms in the United States, was having issues their current storage solution. Firstly, the law firm was running out of physical storage space. Also, because the firm was growing quickly, the amount of data that they produced was steadily growing, data backups were overlapping into other critical windows, which was leading to potential loss of data, time waste, and frustration on the part of the IT staff. Recognizing that their current solution was not working for them anymore, they decided that they needed a new storage solution strategy.
To begin, they required a clear plan of what was wrong with their current model and what was needed in the new one. Also, Blank Rome LLP needed to find a vendor who had both the experience and expertise to provide a solution that could be flexible and scalable to adapt with the law firm’s changing needs.
They were able to partner with a vendor who created a powerful and flexible private cloud for the law firm. They virtualized almost all of their infrastructure, using virtual machines across the world. For disaster recovery, they used a site 300 miles away and allowed for continuous replication of data so that even in the case of critical issues, access to the latest data was always possible. Data backups could be conducted successfully without interfering in regular operations. All this allowed for more streamlined operations, greater access to data, more efficient usage of time, and cost savings ranging in the millions. Finally, physical space was freed up, operations were more efficient, employees were left to focus on their tasks, and the vendor could apply their customized expertise exactly when and where it was needed.
Although these types of storage solutions may not work for every organization, it can certainly work for many. Your current solution may not be the best solution long-term. Understanding the storage needs of an organization and determining if these needs are being met, with room for growth, is the first step to ensuring efficient business operations and the continuous ability for growth. To schedule an assessment of your network's data storage and backup needs, contact an iCorps representative today.
Having a business that is unaffected by disasters would be a dream come true for almost everyone. Disasters that threaten business continuity could be due natural disasters such as storms which wipe out the entire office or even floods. These disasters should not dictate whether or not business activities proceed. Thanks to Virtualization of business processes, business recovery is now a possibility.
In order to understand the ways in which VMware virtualization can assist a small or medium-sized company, it is important to first comprehend the various components that make up its flagship product, vCenter Server.
The virtualization leader, VMware, has undergone some significant changes at the top recently. The new CEO is Pat Gelsinger, who was an executive at VMware’s parent company, EMC – though some of you may know him from his lengthy career in senior positions at Intel. His predecessor in the meantime, Paul Maritz, has moved on to become chief strategist at EMC.
Cloud computing allows businesses and other organizations to move their computer functions to the internet from internal networks. This relieves the entity from having to maintain expensive IT equipment, such as servers, programs, and other networking solutions. It also allows for a reduction of expensive IT personnel. The overall savings can be very significant, depending on the size of the organization and its computer operations. At the same time, entities are able to provide greater flexibility to an increasingly mobile work force and as a result experience greater efficiency from the workforce. The downside is that when an entity moves its computer functions to the internet it becomes a big target for cyber criminals that want to steal sensitive information, hence the big security concerns.
Cloud computing services are provided by third parties and the entities involved are dependent on those third parties to provide adequate security measures. In turn, however the third party service providers are depending on each entity to do its part. Security is only as strong as the weakest link and if one entity has lower security concerns that the rest there will be increased vulnerability for all. Most security breaches occur because of actions from inside the entity. An employee carries out an action that opens a door to unauthorized access. This can happen through carelessness, an employee being duped by some outside party or by a disgruntled employee. Security awareness among employees of each entity should be considered essential to maintaining overall security for each entity in the cloud.
For many entities, given the right IT security solutions, there is really no reason not to move IT functions to the cloud. They can increase efficiency and effectiveness while decreasing costs and simplifying IT processes and functions for all parties involved. The purchase of Virtuata by Cisco means that other cloud computing service providers will need to up their game, regarding IT security, in order to remain competitive. Security professionals must strive to stay ahead of cyber criminals who are always working to find new and innovative ways to breach security. The firm(s) that provides the best IT security will dominate in the cloud computing arena. Cisco has made a good move with the purchase of Virtuata and is poised to increase its footprint in the cloud computing arena in a big way.
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, also known as US-CERT, has identified a huge threat to your company's IT security. Several 64-bit operating systems as well as virtualization applications using Intel processors are at risk of being exploited by a "local privilege escalation attack." The exposed operating system are based on x86-64 architecture, including Windows Server 2003 SP2, Server 2008 R2; Windows 7, NetBSD, FreeBSD, and operating systems utilizing XenServer Hypervisor.
Your SMB faces a number of IT challenges - soaring hardware costs, under-utilization of hardware, over-utilization of employees, security vulnerabilities and decreasing storage space. These are just a few of the issues that virtualization helps reduce or eliminated completely. Let's look deeper into how it can help your SMB become leaner and more efficient with its IT operations.