Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
Virtualization is the creation of a virtual version of a physical technological service or solution. While this concept can be seemingly complex, it does bring benefits to companies, especially small businesses, that can't be passed up. If your company is curious about moving your systems to a virtual environment, it can be a little confusing as to which should be moved.
If you need some ideas as to how your small business can leverage virtualization then here are five ways to do so:
1. Simplify IT processes As business grow they inevitably introduce new technology and systems that need to be installed and maintained. Because many small companies don't have actual IT departments, or rely on a small number of staff, their resources are stretched even thinner, resulting in even greater potential tech problems.
By virtualizing systems, these can be easier to look after by either an IT partner or in-house teams. This will also free up resources which can be diverted to more business specific tasks. Combine virtualization with an IT partner and your IT becomes even easier to manage, largely because you won't have to.
2. Enhance security Cyber attacks are on the rise, and have always been a problem which many companies struggle to deal with or prevent. Virtualizing some systems, like the desktop or even Web browsing, could limit the chance of infection and malware attacks.
Take for example a read-only virtualized desktop, where you log in and are presented with a copy of the OS that can only be read. Files created or downloaded normally won't be saved. When you log off this session is closed and a completely new one is started when you log in again. The majority of viruses downloaded are usually eradicated, thereby enhancing the security of your systems.
Many IT partners and vendors provide scanning services and work to keep other virtualized systems clean and secure, with many systems being as secure, or more so, than their physical counterparts.
3. Backup systems As a business you likely have important data and information stored on various systems. Backing these up can be a chore, especially if the backup is done manually. There are virtual solutions out there that actually allow you to take what are called snapshots - a backup of your whole system at a specific time - that can be easily reverted to should something go wrong.
While you can do this with existing physical systems and backups, the virtual versions can often be quicker because you don't need to find the physical medium on which you stored the backup. Most services allow you to simply log on and begin the recovery process.
4. Enhance mobility Devices like the tablet have enabled us to become increasingly mobile. It's not uncommon for employees to access their systems while on the road, and truth be told the apps available now allow us to do the majority of our work from a mobile device.
There are times however when you will need to access an app or program on your PC. Using a solution such as a remote manager essentially turns your computer into a virtual machine, allowing you to access the files and programs stored on it from your mobile device. This is a powerful tool for the business manager or any employee who is on the road and needs to access their computers.
5. Server consolidation The server is an integral business component. These machines power many technical functions, like email, that your business relies on. If you are using older technology, you likely have more than a few servers in your office. How virtualization helps is that it allows you to create virtual servers on one physical server. This allows companies to decrease the number of servers in the office and save money.
If you are looking to virtualize your systems, or would like to learn more, please contact us today.
Technical systems and devices are among the most important tools of any business. The problem with technology though is that it can be expensive to purchase and maintain. Sure, it's often a worthwhile investment, but many businesses simply cannot afford to replace or upgrade their tech on a regular basis. One solution to this is to virtualize.
Virtualization is the moving of physical systems to a virtual environment, which is usually located off-site, and connected to over the Internet. There are many benefits to virtualization, including lower costs and extended life of your technology, which has made it a popular option with small to medium sized businesses. If you have looked into virtualization, you may know that there are numerous types. Here are four.
Operating system virtualization Operating system (OS) virtualization is the movement of a desktop's main operating system into a virtual environment. The computer you use remains on your desk but the operating system is hosted on a server elsewhere. Usually, there is one version on the server and copies of that individual OS are presented to each user. Users can then modify the OS as they wish, without other users being affected.
Server virtualization Server virtualization is the moving of existing physical servers into a virtual environment, which is then hosted on a physical server. Many modern servers are able to host more than one server simultaneously, which allows you to reduce the number of servers you have in your company, thus reducing your IT and administrative expenditures. Some servers can also be virtualized and stored offsite by other hosting companies.
Storage virtualization Storage virtualization is the combining of multiple physical hard drives into a single, virtualized storage environment. To many users, this is simply called cloud storage, which can be private (hosted by your company), public (hosted outside of your company e.g., DropBox), or mixed. This type of virtualization, along with server virtualization, is often the most pursued by companies as it is usually the easiest and most cost effective to implement.
Hardware virtualization Hardware virtualization refers to taking the components of a real machine and making them virtual. This virtual machine works like the real machine and is usually a computer with an operating system. The software is ordinarily separated from the hardware resources, with the software often remaining on the physical machines. A good example of this is a Windows PC that runs a virtual version of Linux. There are different types of hardware virtualization, but this is the most common type used by businesses.
If you would like to learn more about virtualization and how it can help improve your business, please contact us today.
The vast majority of small to medium businesses rely on technology to be able to work, but lack the budget to upgrade to new systems when something better comes along. That's why the idea of virtualizing existing systems - moving them from a physical location to a digital one - is so appealing. One of the common types of virtualization revolves around hardware. Unfortunately, when you talk to many providers, they sometimes use terms that may be hard to understand.
Here are seven commonly used hardware virtualization terms and what they mean.
1. Host machine The host machine, sometimes referred to as the host VM, is the actual machine that the software/hardware lives on. This is usually a physical server, that may or may not be housed in your office, which provides the processing power, disk drives, memory, etc to create a virtual version of a platform, usually an operating system.
2. Guest machine Guest machines, sometimes referred to as guest VMs, are the virtual machines, or versions of the physical software. When a user accesses their guest machine, they are shown their own version of what is on the host machine. Many guest machines can use the software or operating systems as if it was on their physical computer.
To many users, there is still a computer on their desk, just the software and computing resources/hardware are hosted elsewhere. The vast majority of guest machines connect to the host via an Internet connection.
3. Hypervisor The Hypervisor is the software that allows the host machine to create a virtual version that the guest machine can access.
4. Virtual Machine Manager Virtual Machine Manager is another term used to describe the software that creates a virtual version of the host machine that the guest machine can access. The term is used interchangeably with Hypervisor, with Hypervisor being the more common of the two.
5. Snapshot A snapshot is the state of a virtual machine at a specific time. Think of this as similar to a picture taken to capture an important moment. Most snapshots include applications open, files stored in a virtual hard drive, and general state of the virtual environment. The reason these are important is because they are what enable users to resume their virtual session right where they left off.
Some companies and public domains like libraries take snapshots of an OS and present this to users when they log into the computer. If the user makes changes, they are not saved and when they log out, the next user to log in will be presented with the previous snapshot, (essentially a brand new system).
Snapshots are also useful for quick backup and recovery of virtual environments.
6. Migration Migration is the act of taking a snapshot of a virtual environment on one host machine, and physically moving it to another host machine with a different Hypervisor. This can normally be done quite quickly, often without major disruption to the user, who can pick up right where they left off after the migration.
7. Failover Failover allows the user, or guest machine, to continue operations if the host fails. The difference here is that the guest machine will continue operations from the last saved, stable snapshot. This could mean some changes, made to say a file, will be lost.
These are just seven common terms related to virtualization. If you would like to learn more about virtualization, why not contact us? We would be happy to sit down with you to explain more.
Computing power has more or less doubled every two years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. While our computers are becoming increasingly powerful, it simply isn't feasible for many small to medium businesses to update their hardware or systems every couple of years. This often leads to businesses with aging systems facing increased costs, decreased productivity and the need (but not the budget!) to replace systems. One solution to this very real problem is to virtualize existing systems.
Virtualization is the act of taking an existing system, say a server, and creating a virtual copy of it that is hosted either in a physical unit or somewhere out of the office. Some systems you can virtualize include: Desktops, Operating Systems, servers, hardware and storage. Most small businesses start with storage and server virtualization as this can usually be done with relative ease and at an affordable cost.
Benefits of virtualization The question many business owners ask when they are looking into virtualization is what benefits it can bring. While the positives are numerous, here are the five most common:
1. Reduced space Physical hardware can take up a lot of space, and the common trend among many businesses is that the space available per person is shrinking in order to save costs. Take for example your servers. If you virtualize these, you can probably fit all of them onto one or two units. This will reduce the space your hardware takes up, freeing up extra storage capacity or possibly another desk.
2. Reduced overhead Having hardware and servers in an office can be expensive to maintain. You have to have climate control to start with which means higher electricity bills and higher maintenance costs. Virtualization will often reduce overhead costs and save you money. Beyond that, many solutions offer a pay-per-use pricing model which makes predicting costs easier.
3. Quicker backup and recovery Many virtualization solution providers also offer backup services that can be automated. This means that your vital data is always backed up and protected. Beyond that, the backups can be stored at a different location, meaning that if there is a disaster, you can recover lost data quickly and easily.
4. Longer hardware replacement cycles Virtualized solutions and platforms often require lower computing resources because they are hosted on the provider's servers. This means that you won't have to replace existing tech hardware. Beyond that, existing systems can be used for longer which will save you money.
5. Virtualization is scalable If your company is growing, you will eventually have to add new systems. In an already cramped office this means finding the space for hardware or servers needed to support your growth, not to mention investing in systems that are compatible with existing hardware. Virtualization is highly scalable, and can grow with your company, often without the need for extra services.
In general, virtualization could help your business grow, while IT costs remain stable, or are even decreased. If you would like to learn more about how virtualization of your systems can help your company, contact us today.
Virtualization - the idea of taking physical systems and migrating them to a digital version - is a popular method businesses use to save space, decrease costs and potentially increase productivity. This concept is focused mainly on backend systems, like servers and desktop computers. There is a new candidate for virtualization that could take off in the next few years: your phone.
Traditional smartphones are individual packages. The operating system and user are physically tied to the device. If you think about it, there are really only a few phones out there, and millions of people probably have the exact same one that you do. They differentiate their phones from others by the pictures, apps, videos, etc. stored on the device and the way they have personalized their phones.
Should you lose your phone, that data is likely lost, and you are faced with a potentially high cost to replace it. The two major operating system developers - Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) - have started to implement virtual backup solutions. Your contacts, apps and some personalization settings are backed up to the cloud and connected with a user account. When you enter the account information, you can quickly get the most important information from your phone back.
Combine this with the various cloud storage services that allow users to store their information, pictures, etc., with access from nearly any device. This integration with the cloud has enabled users to rely less on physical devices, and points to a potential virtualization concept: Non-dedicated devices.
The idea of non-dedicated devices is that you can use any device, regardless of manufacturer or OS, to access a system you can call your own. Imagine if your phone runs out of batteries. You borrow a friend's, log in using your username and password and that device instantly becomes personalized to you.
Could this work? There are currently three identifiable virtualization trends that point to non-dedicated mobile devices becoming a reality:
We'd like to know what you think of non-dedicated devices. Would you use one? Are there any other problems you can foresee? Let us know today.
In many tech circles the idea of virtualization - moving physical elements of existing business components onto virtual solutions - is a popular one. Among the different types of devices that can be virtualized, servers are the most common, and for many businesses the easiest and cheapest to go virtual. Are you looking to get more out of your servers?
Here's five tips on better server virtualization for small to medium businesses.
1. Reality is key - It's easy, when reading about tech, to get caught up in all the new devices, ideas, etc. and maybe begin to lose site of your situation. It's not uncommon to have a small business owner want to virtualize all servers at once. This is often not feasible - budget and technology wise.
Instead, you should take the time to assess your servers and identify which servers are best suited to virtualization. For example, if the server that handles your email is starting to show its age, this may be a prime candidate. After identifying potential servers to virtualize, you can begin to develop a better plan.
2. Check compatibility - After you have picked servers for virtualization, you should look at the software the servers handle, to see if they are compatible with the virtualization software you plan to use. Should the software not be compatible you will either have to look for another solution, or upgrade the software. Fail to do this and you could face setbacks and compatibility issues which will likely cause a drop in efficiency, or even negate the savings arising from virtualization.
It is also a good idea to look at whether the server itself is capable of supporting virtualization. Each virtualization solution has different requirements and this is a good thing to keep in mind. Virtualization solutions are always advancing, so the server that can just about handle a solution now may not be able to handle it in a year or two.
3. Don't forget about your data backup solutions - Interestingly, many virtualization providers also provide data backup solutions. It may be a good idea to look at your existing backup and if it is compatible with the systems you plan to use. If not, this could prove costly for your business if something should happen where you need this.
4. R.S.S. - Reduce. Sell. Save. Server virtualization allows for many servers to be run on one physical unit. This means you will be able to reduce the number of servers, sell them, and finally reap bigger savings through decreased maintenance and operational costs.
5. Work with and IT expert - The above steps can be daunting, even to those in the IT field. There's just so much to focus on that business owners and managers often don't have this kind of time. That's why we highly recommend that in order to get the most out of virtualization, you work with a virtualization expert who can focus on helping you stay realistic, ensure the compatibility of your systems and orient your backup systems.
Looking for an IT expert to help you virtualize your systems? Why not contact us? We may have a solution to help you get even more out of your systems.
IT has become an essential component of business. Without systems that meet business needs, a company will likely fail, or certainly struggle to stay in the black. As such, IT spending is predicted to reach USD$3.7 billion in 2013. Much of this spending will be on improving existing systems and adoption of cloud services. Is your company looking to get a little cloudy this year?
Here are five things you should ask cloud service providers when looking to make the move to the cloud.
One of the biggest tech trends of the past two years is the topic of virtualization. This is a wide ranging topic that covers issues such as digitizing aging phone systems, moving programs off of hard drives and into the cloud, as well as taking existing servers and creating digital counterparts that have many benefits to users. While virtualization is a buzzword, many users are still fairly unclear about virtualization especially in relation to servers.
Here is a brief overview of server virtualization, when you should use it and what you should look for in a virtualization solution.
What exactly is server virtualization? In a nutshell, server virtualization is the practice of taking physical servers and digitizing them into virtual ones. In truth, this isn't a fully virtual solution; your servers will continue to be on a physical server, just in virtual format.
Modern virtual solutions run multiple systems - commonly called instances - on one existing server. Traditionally, servers were inefficient especially when it came to use of physical resources and hardware - much was left under utilized. Virtualization ensures that use of physical resources and hardware are maximized, leading to users getting better value from servers.
This stacking of existing systems onto a smaller number of systems decreases acquisition and overhead costs - maintenance and power - while increasing the amount of physical space available for other functions including room to grow.
Virtualization is largely made possible due to increases made in technology. For example: A server with four processors costs about 1/10th of what it did a decade ago, and is more powerful. More power and cheaper cost has given companies of all sizes the capabilities to virtualize.
When should I employ server virtualization? Virtualization is ideal for functions that are small to medium scale, ie., most simple or day-to-day business functions. If you have applications that are resource intensive and rely on more than one or two servers to be able to run, then it's probably safer to not virtualize that particular service.
Most companies will run physical servers with virtual solutions to a maximum of 50% CPU usage during peak operations. If you have multiple servers running applications that, at peak, only use about 5% of the server's power, these would be ideal to virtualize - you could virtualize up to 10 physical servers.
If an application uses 48% of available computing power at peak usage, it's probably not the best candidate for virtualization as it will cause other instances on the same server to run slower, thus negating any advantages gained from virtualization.
What should I look for in a virtualization solution When looking for a virtualization solution many companies will have different needs that they need to take into account. There are three factors that almost every company should be aware of when shopping for a virtualization solution:
There are many different ways you can virtualize your company. Many companies virtualize the easier tech related functions like desktops, telephone and sales. Virtualizing systems like these are great at making specific jobs easier, however they don’t make it easier to stay on top of things. That’s why busy managers and entrepreneurs hire assistants. Don’t have a PA, or the budget to hire one? Take steps to hire a virtual one.
A virtual assistant (VA) fills the role of a traditional assistant but is just not physically present. Many roles, like replying to trivial emails, finishing presentations, writing or even answering your phones, can all be done through the computer. If you’re interested in virtualizing your assistant here’s five steps that will help you find the perfect assistant.
Step 1: Think about tasks you don’t like You’re not a superhero, there is always something, maybe many things, that you don’t like doing. Over the course of a week jot down what you do each day and whether you like/dislike the task. Beyond that, if you think someone could do it better, jot that down as well. At the end of the week, look over the list and see if you have to do the tasks yourself, or if you can outsource them. The tasks you can outsource can be given to your VA.
Step 2: Look for a VA Once you can justify a VA, start looking for one. Reach out to your network and see if your colleagues have assistants, and if they can provide you with a recommendation. Beyond that, consulting with organizations like the ivaa.org can return some great VAs.
Step 3: Screen candidates This step is just like hiring a physical candidate. You need to go through your list of potential hires and ask them questions to ensure they are both a good fit and what you're looking for. Some things you could ask include:
Step 4: Baby steps Like learning to walk, you can’t start at a run, rather you have to take it slow. Start with a small project to test the waters as a way to vet the candidate. Be sure to let them know that this is a test, and not a final offer. This won’t be free, you should pay them at their normal rates.
Step 5: Onboard slowly, terminate quickly If the VA is a good fit, and the test project goes smoothly, you can start to wrap up. Generally, the onboarding process should be slower than a normal physical hiring as you have to invest more and vet them more carefully. If you find that down the line, the VA just isn’t working out, or keeps making the same mistakes, cut them loose. A VA isn’t like a normal employee, you shouldn’t have to invest thousands of dollars and man hours training them and as such, it isn’t as much of an investment.
If you’d like to learn more about virtualizing roles or services within your company, please contact us.
Virtualization of physical computer systems is a popular act that has many positive benefits. One of the most common forms of virtualization is desktop virtualization, being able to access your desktop from anywhere, on any machine. Desktop virtualization will continue to be popular well into the future, yet some managers are unsure about the security of virtual desktops.
In general, you can do nearly everything on a virtual desktop that you can do with a physical desktop. The majority of office oriented software now has versions that operate in the cloud, or give administrators the ability to install the program on one machine and license it out to other machines.
The largest difference between the two systems comes in the form of security. Virtual desktops are susceptible to the exact same security issues as their physical counterparts, but they also have a few extra potential problems which are unique to virtual machines. The biggest security issue with virtual desktops comes in the form of access. With physical machines, you can lock an office door which will usually prevent people from physically accessing the machine. With virtual machines you are not able to do this. Anyone with access and a password can get onto the machine.
While this may sound like a deterrence to the adoption of virtual desktops, users should be aware that vendors are aware of this issue and have adopted measures to ensure their products are safe. In fact, if implemented properly, virtual desktops are often safer.
To ensure safety of data and machines virtual desktops need to be implemented in a specific manner. For example, some solutions will create a new environment every time you need to access a different system. This is like starting with a blank slate, with unnecessary data being deleted when you log off. Users won’t be able to customize their workspace, but it can help stave off problems of errant downloading, or installation of unnecessary programs.
Other systems allow users to customize their workspace, but save the changes in a separate location when the user logs off. This keeps any changes made to the base system easy to keep track of, and it’s easier to spot security problems, while keeping them local.
If you’re looking into virtualizing your office’s desktops, we strongly recommend you work with an experienced IT partner who can help deploy a system that meets your needs, while remaining safe. We can help with virtualization, so why not give us a call?