SmartAdvice: Link Business Units With Common Architecture
Empower your company with a defined enterprise information architecture, The Advisory Council says. Also, the pros and cons of using software and hardware emulation tools; and a review of network architecture means taking the big-picture view.
Question B: What are the pros and cons of using products such as Virtual PC or VMware on production systems?
Our advice: Software and hardware emulators and virtualization tools have been around for decades. As technology has evolved, so have these tools, and, in fact, the biggest challenge that these tools face is keeping up with the changes in operating systems, software versions, hardware compatibility, and system performance. However, they still hold an important place in IT, and as enterprises look to simplify, consolidate, and cut costs, such tools will become even more relevant and prevalent in IT organizations around the world.
Let's begin by understanding what these virtual infrastructures can do.
Virtual PC is a PC-oriented virtualization solution that lets you run multiple PC-based operating systems simultaneously on one workstation, providing a safety net to maintain compatibility with legacy applications while you migrate to a new operating system.
VMware is a server-oriented virtualization tool providing a layer of abstraction between the computing, storage, and networking hardware, and the operating systems that run on them. With virtual infrastructure, multiple guest systems see hardware resources as if they were dedicated to them.
Pros And Cons
Some of the general pros and cons with such software and hardware virtualization products are:
Pros: Quick setup; increases asset utilization; more affordable than multiple hardware systems; and enables support, development, training staff, and system administrators to work more efficiently.
Cons: Compatibility challenges; less performance compared with the multiple hardware systems; potentially exposes production systems to unwanted access; and could increase system administration workload.
Now let's look at the specific features of each category of the virtualization tools above.
Tools such as Virtual PC are ideal when you need to support multiple operating systems, whether you use it for tech support, legacy application support, training, or just for consolidating physical computers. It lets you create separate virtual machines on your desktop, each of which virtualizes the hardware of a complete physical computer. You can run multiple operating systems at once on a single physical computer and switch between them as easily as switching applications.
Server-virtualization tools such as VMware help enterprises lower costs, respond more quickly, and deliver flexible and consistent IT. IT organizations can provision new services and change the amount of resources dedicated to a software service. Hardware management is separated from software management, and hardware equipment can be treated as a single pool of processing, storage, and networking power to be allocated on the fly to various software services.
Software and hardware emulation tools are a mature segment of the IT industry, and it's expected that their use and acceptance will continue to grow. Based upon the fundamental premise of enabling enterprises to do more with less, and to accomplish tasks "better, faster and cheaper", such virtualization tools as Virtual PC and VMware will continue to gain widespread acceptance in IT departments. As this happens, we will likely find that these families of products will continue to evolve and to resolve some of the configuration, compatibility, and performance challenges that they currently face.
It's recommended that you continue to consider and evaluate such products, and, given the relatively low price associated with them, to start experimenting with them in a controlled manner within your enterprise if you haven't already done so. As you make your decisions vis-a-vis these products and product families, the key is to keep in mind the impact the following features will have on your IT costs in the long run:
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