In Mark Andreesen’s famous article “Why Software Is Eating the World” (The Wall Street Journal, August 2011), he discussed how soft­ware companies’ products are disrupting tra­ditional industries around the world. Hyper-V Server is one of those pieces of software with the ability to replace what has previously been provided by numerous dedicated pieces of cus­tom hardware and software and, thus, “eat the datacenter.” That means Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V can potentially replace numerous serv­ers (through consolidation), network devices (with virtual switches and firewalls), and storage resources such as SANs and network-attached storage (NAS) arrays leveraging some of the storage features described later in this article.

The storage features in the latest version of Hyper-V Server, and those promised for the upcoming version of Hyper-V Server, can su­percharge the storage infrastructure of your data center.
The virtual desktop – could you do more for less?

With even the most basic personal computer often over-qualified for the needs of the standard user, have you considered why you should pay for software you don’t need and hardware that can be costly to refresh?
Desktop virtualisation could be the solution.

One of the most significant technology trends in IT today, desktop virtualisation can deliver significant cost savings that are hard to ignore for small to medium sized businesses. But what exactly is it, and what can it do for your business?

In short, desktop virtualisation separates the desktop operating system (such as Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux etc.), applications and data from a PC, laptop or other computing device and delivers this to the user via a host server.

As a user your icons, wallpaper, folders, toolbars, widgets and applications are stored on a host server – allowing you access to your desktop locally or over the Internet from any device including laptops, tablets and smartphones.

And with virtual desktops reported to deliver savings upwards of 36% over average desktop PC costs, can you afford not to think about the benefits this could bring to your business?
The benefits of desktop virtualisation:

  • Significantly reduced PC refresh cycle.
    With a three to five year PC refresh cycle required to support the needs of most businesses, the associated costs soon mount up. With desktop virtualisation, the refresh cycle extends to seven years plus, making it a far more cost-effective solution. What’s more your existing PCs can be repurposed, extending the life of devices that would otherwise be disregarded.
  • Reduced upfront costs.
    With desktop virtualisation, users forego the traditional PC or ‘fat client’ (a device which has the memory, storage and power to run applications) for a ‘thin client’ (a device which lacks a hard-drive and other parts such as fans and CD drives). Smaller and simpler to build, thin clients are subsequently cheaper to buy, with the additional benefit of requiring less energy than traditional PCs or laptops.
  • Decreased on-going maintenance costs.
    With the maintenance and management of PC hardware and software estimated to account for 50-70% of the total cost of ownership of a typical PC, desktop virtualisation can deliver substantial cost savings to your business over a period of time. Plus, depending on the end- user’s device, updates only need applying to the host server once, simplifying the updating process.
  • Increased employee productivity.
    With developments in cloud services and mobile technologies fuelling demand for more flexible working, desktop virtualisation delivers on-demand desktops anywhere, at any time, to any device. Even better, what desktop users see on their office PC is the same desktop they’ll see on their own device at home – helping improve the user experience and therefore productivity levels.
  • Improved user satisfaction.
    Desktop virtualisation delivers a personalised desktop tailored to the specific preferences and profile of the user. And with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) becoming increasingly popular, you can provide your employees with everything they need to do their job, in a way that suits their device preferences.
  • The latest software without increased costs.
    You’ll benefit from only having to install the latest software updates once at the host. All the virtual desktops across your organisation immediately benefit from this one update.
  • Improved security.
    If your organisation deals with sensitive information, the threat of losing it from personal devices or laptops is a constant concern. With desktop virtualisation, none of the information needs to be stored on the device. Instead, desktops and data are regularly stored and backed-up centrally, delivering real integrity benefits. What’s more, you can ensure that no data can be downloaded from the desktop to an end-user or USB device unless the user has specific permissions.
  • Improved scalability.
    As with other cloud based services (which are essentially services delivered remotely via the Internet), scalability is key – allowing your business IT infrastructure to start small and easily grow incrementally, without the same upfront costs associated with traditional PCs.

Server Virtualisation

Server virtualisation delivers significant business benefits. It enables multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on a single physical server, while each operating system remains self-contained.

Virtualisation benefits include:

  • Greater value from your server investment by maximising usage. With virtualisation one physical server (host) can easily run several virtual servers.
  • A reduction in the number of physical servers you require. Reduced power and cooling requirements results in lower energy costs and emissions. Fewer servers also means more free space in your server room and reduced need for cabling and switch ports..
  • Greater resilience and faster recovery. Virtual servers offer better business continuity and disaster recovery support, making it far quicker and easier to restore in the event of a hardware failure (depending upon system design this can be down to a few seconds). Servers can also be replicated to secondary locations.
  • Enhanced support for legacy applications and operating systems. Virtualisation offers a great platform for re-hosting legacy applications and operating systems, particularly as older generation hardware becomes more difficult and costly to maintain.
  • Simplified management. Fewer servers require fewer KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switches. In addition, virtual servers can be easily managed via the virtual server management console.
  • Flexible performance management. Virtual servers benefit from the overall host server performance, and can be easily moved between hosts when loads indicate this would be beneficial.
  • Easier maintenance. In the event that a host server requires planned downtime for maintenance, virtual servers can be redeployed onto other hosts quickly and easily.
  • Reduced maintenance costs..