More evidence of virtualisation gaining traction in Irish business circles in Enterprise Ireland’s eBusiness Live circular…
The idea of IT virtualisation is fast gaining popularity, but it can be a hard concept to pin down. Different providers, vendors and resellers can define the term in their own way, depending on the product each offers. Essentially, however, IT virtualisation is a way of combining and pooling hardware resources to more efficiently deliver software programs or storage space.
“Virtualisation separates applications from a physical reliance on hardware,” according to Eddie O’Rourke, sales director of virtualised systems provider Novosco. “It allows the running of IT systems on less hardware, reducing energy costs and carbon footprint, and enabling a lot more flexibility and dynamism in terms of how we run systems.”
O’Rourke says technology advances mean the concept of virtualisation is now open to all sizes of business. “It has made the transition from being experimental to the mainstream. Players such as VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and EMC have come out with their own mainstream virtualisation offerings. It has become a platform where people feel comfortable.”
There are two distinct ways in which companies can virtualise their systems. They can purchase virtualised solutions and implement them within their own IT department, or they can ask a partner to take over control of their newly virtualised systems, which are then hosted and maintained off-site.
“If the customer decides to virtualise their on-site infrastructure, there is a capital acquisition cost at the beginning which is clawed back over a number of years,” says O’Rourke. “Alternatively, the provider makes that investment on their behalf, and converts the customer’s physical infrastructure into a virtual one. Then you can buy everything as a service: hardware, software and services.”
Virtualisation can also open up mobility opportunities to staff who may move from site to site or access applications or storage from the road or from home. “At the front end the user can be anywhere and get access to any system at any time,” says O’Rourke.
Before leaping into virtualisation, however, businesses should be aware that the concept is still relatively new and evolving, and it may not work for every business in every situation.
Still, O’Rourke maintains that as the technology progresses, more and more SMEs will choose to virtualise part and then all of their IT function. “Smaller businesses can virtualise one or two applications so that they are available from anywhere on the internet, for example,” he says. “Once they feel comfortable they would introduce more systems into the virtualised environment.”
The future of virtualisation is in eliminating the difference, for the user or smaller business owner, between hardware machines and software applications, according to O’Rourke. “You can now virtualise someone’s entire server room and offer each element back as a service to the business.”