The reason for almost every virtualisation or consolidation project is the same: to cut costs. The source of that cost cutting can be varied: at the top of the enterprise scale, a reduction in the number of datacentres that an organisation runs, resulting in returns from the sale of property. Further down, power and floor space reductions are attractive to corporate bottom lines. Equipment refresh and application consolidation are also common reasons, and many projects will consist of a combination of these needs.
For many businesses virtualisation represents an opportunity to reduce floor space and indeed property ownership by replacing old, large computer hardware with modern systems that will provide equivalent computing power in smaller systems with reduced power and space requirements.
A common situation in many organisations that have a complex infrastructure, particularly those that are cash rich, was been the growth of dedicated application platforms in which a product or service was built with a dedicated suite of hardware, the concept of a redundant array of inexpensive computers that dates back to the late 80s and early 90s and found its function in the early days of the Internet. As midrange hardware increased in power, another cycle of consolidation introduced the trend for shared computing environments in which applications would run on large multi-processor machines. With the growth of virtualisation management systems such as VMWare, new business is often built in virtualised machines. Many businesses will have examples of all of these methodologies in their computing infrastructures and for many it will make sense to attempt to standardise on an approach to consolidation.
The reduction of costs is a key business driver in many industries, a fact that should be self evident in an economy that is driven by a need for greater returns on investment and profitability. In sectors where information technology is a requirement, the cost of provisioning hardware and software is a major factor, so it is natural that businesses seek to reduce their IT costs.
Cost reduction is constantly subject to trends and new ideas which are often driven by solution providers. Ten years ago a common route was consolidation on large single machines such as Sun’s E10000 and F15000 or HP’s Superdome series, mainframe style machines that could run multiple applications in Unix environments. As space and power became premium, and as low end processors became more powerful, single and multiprocessor computers could be built as small rack mounted machines, thus improving floor space usage and power distribution. The increasing maturity of free and open source software, primarily Linux and its associated software such as the apache HTTP server, tomcat java application server and MySQL database engine has also made moving away from costly proprietary and licensed software viable.
In recent years, improvements in the technology, both in software and hardware, have made virtualisation an attractive proposition for businesses looking for hardware updates, datacentre consolidation and general reduction of the IT estate. On paper, such propositions are immediately attractive to management as they show potential quick returns in such areas as power and rack space, and longer term advantages in return on investment in hardware. In practise, transformation projects can be protracted, frustrating and ultimately unsatisfactory if not planned and managed properly.
This white paper will attempt to identify the common issues associated with migration and transformation exercises in order to highlight the potential complexity of such processes before they are started.
Chapter 1: Why change?
Chapter 2: What will change?
Chapter 3: New landscapes
Chapter 4: Championing the process
Chapter 5: Execution
Chapter 6: Supporting the future
Having worked in several migration and transformation projects in recent years, I would like to share my thoughts on the practises, processes and pitfalls that make up such a project. It will be published in chapters over the next few weeks.
Despite the desperate grabbing at the news that there was a small amount of growth in the UK economy in the last quarter, the recession continues to severely affect small businesses. For many the time has come to look at other ideas to raise income, and for a lot of those, they look to the Internet.
At first glance it’s attractive: there are many schemes and ideas that promise guaranteed income in return for a small investment and a little work, but as always with such things, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Someone’s probably making money, but it almost certainly isn’t you. There just isn’t any substitute for hard work, even in the information bus-lane. This even applies to Google Ads, selling stuff on eBay (so 2005, don’t you think) and any kind of referral scheme. It might buy you a couple of beers, but don’t expect to retire.
You might have a good original idea. They do still happen, as Facebook and Twitter attest, but the best ideas remain organic and pick up when their founders least expect it. I’m sure it’s no secret that the top social networking services, in the UK at least, are based on systems that are held together with sellotape and string, caught out as they were by their growth.
For all that, the cost of entry for such systems has been drastically reduced by the use of cloud computing and computing on demand services such as Rackspace Cloud and Amazon AWS, which make the power of large web serving platforms much cheaper and make growth easier to plan.
If you have a good idea, sometimes it’s good to let another pair of eyes see them and give honest criticism. Simon Greenwood of Open Intelligence has been involved in and has been a watcher of the UK Internet industry since its very early days and has the technical skill and understanding to help with making your idea a success. <a href=”http://www.openintelligence.co.uk”>Get in touch</a> if you want to make your idea a workable reality.
Think about what you do at work. Write and reply to emails, write documents and spreadsheets and the occasional presentation, and perhaps occasionally talk to people. You need access to your desktop machine because that’s where your documents are, or perhaps on your network share, which is behind the firewall. If you were using OpenOffice, you could sync your documents to Google Docs using the OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs extension. It also works with Zoho or any WebDAV based service. Install it using Tools > Extension Manager, and an addon toolbar appears with options to export and import to and from Google Docs and Zoho Docs and export to WebDAV.
With both Google Apps and Zoho, you have everything you need to hand without needing to jump through the inevitable hoops needed to ‘work from home’. Open Intelligence can help with providing Google Apps services, including the business version Google Apps for Domains. We wouldn’t work without it.
The current cold snap promises to be longer than many in recent years and will result in many lost days from work as transport systems fail and roads become treacherous. However, there are many solutions that allow those stuck at home to carry on working.
For most remote networking services your PC at work needs to be left on, new client software installed, and more often than not these days a way through the company firewall, but the value in reclaimed working time outweighs the work required.
Most commercial managed services are not open source software or even open to access, but some provide a free service for individual users: LogMeIn Free provides read-only access to Windows and Mac desktops which might be useful for checking documents or mail that is stuck behind the firewall but requires an upgrade to LogMeInPro2 to access files. GoToMyPC is Citrix based (as well it might be, being owned by Citrix) and provides an alternative to the in-house and expensive Citrix solution.
However, if we’re going to be building an open and open source solution for our office, we seem to be a missing one important thing in both these cases, and that’s a client for GNU/Linux. Somewhat ironically, Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection as included in Vista and Windows 7 should work in Linux because they use Remote Desktop Protocol, which is supported by the Gnome Terminal Services Client, which is in Applications | Internet in all versions of Ubuntu.
RDP isn’t well supported on the server side in GNU/Linux though with xrdp seeming to have stalled in development. The standard for remote desktop access has become VNC, which is also included as standard in Gnome desktop (System | Preferences | Remote Desktop) and in Ubuntu 9.10 supports UPnP on enabled routers. It’s probably no surprise then there is a remote desktop solution based on VNC in the shape of Echogent. Their remote server and packet switching system isn’t free to license but as it’s based on VNC has access to servers and clients on many operating systems and indeed phones and other personal hardware. As an alternative to Windows Remote Desktop Connection it’s attractive for that capability alone. That it also connects over SSH’s port 22 is attractive to corporate security administrators as it means one less port to open on the firewall.
Another option is to switch to thin clients and literally take your desktop with you. Rather than relying on a personal desktop machine or laptop, users have thin clients that display a personalised desktop on a server. Most modern solutions provide a GUI using VNC or Nomachine‘s NXClient which means that the same desktop used on a thin client at work can be accessed on a terminal server at home.
Open Intelligence can provide solutions based around any of these services. Please get in touch for more information.