Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Applications, Desktop, Server and Infrastructure Virtualisation

Virtualisation has been the recent buzz word but few people know that there are actually different types of virtualisation.

The 4 different types are:
  • Application virtualisation is where you can run any application you need, regardless if it is compatible with your current device. You may be running IE8 on your Mac, or running IE8 with flash on your iPad.
  • Desktop virtualisation is as if you're running 2 different computers on a single device. You may be running Windows 7 on OS X. It is quite similar to the remote desktop connection technology.
  • Server virtualisation is where you have a pool of server resources which you could allocate to different IT systems. For example, you may have 2 2-core processors blade servers, running 4 different types of application servers that are logically separated through the virtualisation technology.
  • Infrastructure virtualisation is a technology that is pretty new. If you're familiar with infrastructure configuration, you'll know the pain of allocation of IP addresses, MAC addresses and LUN connections when you're provisioning for new servers. This information can now be moved across servers with a click of a button, thereby allowing you to bring up your backup servers quickly if your primary servers fail, without your users even realising that there is something wrong.

Combine it all together and your IT systems can just about handle any business opportunities that come along, with high availability. Your applications can be quickly provisioned and you can easily scale up or out your applications requirements with a click of the button. It's no more a dream, but I doubt business users really understand the power of such technology.

Just imagine you are launching a new campaign that runs at a certain time annually and your users only use a particular application during that time. All you need to do is to automate the re-activatation of that application system at that time period, setup triggers to increase your resources if the utilisation hits a certain threshold, and you're ready to go. No users will complain about slowness of the application (provided you have already done all your IT design checks on the application) and the application will not crash due to the high availability setup.

Why are people not jumping into this technology immediately? Costs of course. Good stuff does not come cheap. That's always the rule of thumb. Business operations may have also not reached the stage which such high availability and turnaround time are needed.

Virtualisation is a long term investment and one must look further than the current issues facing the organisation. Sooner or later, turnaround time for your business operations will become important. It'll be interesting to see how the technology will develop further.

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