The Virtualization of the Enterprise: PART 1

Feb 25, 2015

A Very Brief History of Enterprise Virtualization

Since the mid 2000’s companies of all sizes have been moving away from the standard physical data center model. Why? From an operational, financial and environmental standpoint, physical servers are static, depreciative and costly – confining businesses to the limits of their hardware and infrastructure.

Over the past few years, the evolution and stabilization of cloud products, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS, have enabled instant provisioning without the need for any hardware onsite. Today, any business function currently hosted in the building can now be virtualized. This offers flexibility, reduction of capital expense, adaptability to changing business requirements, and scalability for variable demand – breaking down the walls of the enterprise, and rethinking functions on a broader scale.

This migration to cloud hosted services is also powering a new drive toward mobility. The “anywhere architecture” of the cloud offers collaboration opportunities across many platforms, and across the world – making employees’ workspace anywhere with connectivity.

These elements drive the virtualization of the enterprise. And, as the lines between onsite applications, cloud applications, local users, and mobile/remote users have been blurred, virtualization creates cohesion. It also gives businesses, and their workforce, the opportunity to operate and collaborate seamlessly – a paradigm shift from being tied to the data center.

The Benefits of Being Virtual…

This shift to “anywhere architecture” has brought numerous advantages to the enterprise. The biggest advantage is the impact it has on budgets. The need to plan long-term capital expense for operations lifecycle that supports hardware and backup solutions is disappearing into the cloud (figuratively speaking, of course). You are no longer required to have unused hardware resources for temporary server instances, as you can spin these up in the cloud and take them down, only paying for the time they’re actually used. From the creation and replication of the same servers being used in your data centers in the cloud to full cloud-based constructs, some tools even include full-environment virtualization.

Virtualizing your enterprise also improves infrastructure scalability and agility: If you operate a variable demand business, than you don’t have to build your infrastructure to support 105 percent of your maximum projected demand. For example, you could spin up a new application that has multiple front ends to handle demand (complete with load balancing), connect it to a SQL backend (all cloud based), and then analyze the output through built-in BI tools. You can also interface with your other core systems seamlessly – and then pull it back down with a click.

The primary reward of virtualizing your enterprise is the ability to unlock the productivity potential of both your workforce and customers. Leveraging enterprise virtualization, all of the functions that the employees need to do, from desktop publishing and business communication to interfacing with CRM or ERP systems, can be hosted in the cloud and accessed through a web browser or custom interface.

Your people can now work from any device, anywhere, and by the same token, so can your customers.  This gives you multiple ways and tools to deliver infrastructure and applications to your end-users – giving you the ability to reassure those users of critical application availability through global redundancy using these cloud services, even if it is just a disaster recovery scenario.

The second part of this blog will appear later this month. Part two will cover some barriers to entry for virtualization, as well as what tools will be coming soon.

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