Visualization Becoming Cost Saving Reality
Author: Mark Kornegay
To support growth and success in new markets, cost-conscious and business-minded IT departments are finding it necessary to streamline the IT operations in branch offices. Technology specialists, however, are uniquely prepared to implement and share knowledge of the most up-to-date processes to add secure and flexible solutions necessary for branch office implementations.
Managing operational costs across multiple locations can be the key to maintaining profitability, whether the business model consists of branch offices, retail outlets, remote properties or distribution facilities. To increase profitability through the use of technology, businesses must find ways to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the equipment they purchase.
With often razor-thin margins associated with operating branch offices, businesses must find the right mix of technologies to address key challenges inherent to operating in multiple locations. Among the top challenges are security risks, network performance and ease of support.
Unmanaged security risks can be devastating to a company. Valuable information, system reliability and performance are critically important to protect. Even brief lapses in security expose businesses to tremendous risk of losses in productivity, communication and profitability. IT departments can implement solutions based around read-only domain controllers that enable organizations to provide their remote branch office with local authentication servers, without having to increase security exposure to their domain database.
Network performance can impact intra- and extra-organizational communication. This ultimately impacts the bottom-line through lost productivity and may damage relationships with customers due to slow response times. Using the latest software like Windows Server 2008 can help optimize network performance and improve the efficiency of wide-area networks (WANs). Distributed File System Replication service (DFSR) is a multi-master replication engine that increases data availability and gives users in remote sites fast, reliable access to files - this allows branch offices and main offices to work and collaborate without lag.
Additional considerations for establishing branch offices lie in the need for easy IT administration. Subtle differences exist if a business uses an external IT staff rather than an internal IT staff, however, the goal remains the same. Keeping it simple for those who service the equipment and the network means less down time and will increase profitability.
Virtualization greatly assists in the ease of maintenance, which opens immense opportunities for businesses to leverage branch office infrastructure solutions. In short, virtualization maximizes server potential by allowing one device to do the work that previously took several dedicated servers. Without virtualization two components work together to perform any number of tasks, but may not utilize the full computing power of the software or hardware. Hence, as company networks have grown, servers typically play specific roles in relation to the larger network. Unused computing power in any one server in the overall network would not be available to serve the needs of an overtaxed server somewhere else in the network.
Centralized systems now are being introduced to the marketplace to allow IT teams to manage virtual machines, data centers and labs across the organization with a single, unified tool. The approach drastically reduces the cost and effort of administration, while improving utilization and measurement. Centralized system management can reduce the time needed to create and manage virtual machines to minutes, instead of hours or days.
Virtualization directly benefits business continuity and disaster recovery efforts by providing increased responsiveness to physical machine failures. This kind of reliability improvement provides organizations increased business security through the availability of applications and the requisite building blocks for a business continuity solution.
With less than five percent of servers currently using virtualization technology, the industry has significant room for growth. This provides software developers and manufacturers significant opportunity to help customers reduce costs, make IT more flexible and enable vendors to offer more services. Combining licensed investments in products, solutions and services that reach beyond just server virtualization and that leverage company assets in the employee desktop. Working with internal IT departments and Certified Microsoft Partners are vital to successful implementations of cost saving technologies.
IDC research indicates that more than 2.2 million companies maintain operations with multiple locations in the United States, and these companies support more than 6 million remote offices with more than 30 million workers. The need for more efficient and secure operations has never been higher. Advances in technology enable businesses of all sizes the cost saving resources vital to their success. About the author: Mark Kornegay is the Central Region Manager for Managed Partners in Microsoft’s Small and Mid-market Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) group. For more information, please visit www.microsoft.com/midsizebusiness.