Windows Server 2012 For Small Business: The Key To Better Virtualisation?

By Sean Berg, Executive Director of Dell’s Enterprise Solutions

Technology is a key driver for any business’ ability to grow and scale – something which a huge 85 percent of UK small businesses recognise. That’s why those who stay abreast of the latest IT innovations and implement a powerful and flexible IT infrastructure will be primed for success.

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The Ripple Effect of Virtual Security

By Leon Ward, Director of Product Management, Sourcefire

Modern networks have expanded. Their components constantly evolve and spawn new attack vectors including endpoints, mobile devices, web-enabled and mobile applications, virtual infrastructure, data centres, social media, web browsers and home computers. These networks are complex to deploy, manage and secure. Any gap in protection across this extended network can have a ‘ripple effect’ across your entire IT environment, exposing your organisation to greater security risk.

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Dell: Helping To Give History More Room For The Future

By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking

A shrinking physical space and a growing demand for IT services from administrators and researchers sent the Museum of Natural History Vienna to Dell. The ask: create a virtualized IT environment to allow for quick data access and accommodate future growth in a very old building. Dell worked with the museum to consolidate their 17 existing servers into only four physical machines, cutting server and storage management times while decreasing energy costs. This improved access to the museum’s secure, scientific data, not to mention providing more floor space for their 30 million specimens and artifacts. Today, thanks to Dell, they have a scalable, virtualized IT environment that maximizes their storage space without expanding their data centre, giving history more room for the future.

To view the whole case study, click here.

Top 5 IT Problems in Video Conferencing Infrastructure

By Andreas Wienold, EMEA VP at LifeSize

 

With an evolving landscape of new infrastructure solutions on the market and limited resources to hire additional staff, IT administrators are often overwhelmed with how to manage their video communications environment.

Although IT administrators may have to deal with a whole range of problems, these top five problems seem to be the most prominent:

1. Too Complex: Most video infrastructure is designed as discrete, single-purpose products. IT teams must deploy and monitor each product separately and navigate disparate UIs. This complexity puts a huge tax on IT resources

2. Limited Deployment Options: While many data centres have moved to virtualisation technologies, a majority of video conferencing products are still delivered as hardware, requiring more space, more power and added equipment cost.

3. Larger Workloads, Limited Resources: While IT teams are tasked with managing more devices in more locations, including laptops and mobile devices; they are also challenged to improve efficiencies across a larger network without adding headcount.

4. Not Scalable: Most video infrastructure products come in fixed capacities that don’t scale, so companies can rarely buy the exact capacity they need or scale as they grow.

5. Difficult to Trial: A typical trial requires ordering, shipping and setting up each device (and for every product you want to trial, it is “rinse and repeat”). The process is costly, slow and inefficient.

Simplifing Tasks

The industry needs to move away from a product-centred strategy and adopt a more user-focused approach. Users want simplicity while preserving functionality and quality. There are many ways how to achieve that. For example by integrating multiple video infrastructure applications onto one software-based platform, with apps you just turn on. An entire portfolio accessible from one interface, which eliminates the duplication of tasks inherent in separate solutions.

Virtualisation of software or hardware appliances enables IT leaders design a solution that fits their environment. It also enables customers to have a flexible purchasing model that lets them buy, expand and grow incrementally, as few as one port or one seat at a time.

What business IT teams want and need is clear: to be able to trial, deploy, monitor and manage video infrastructure from one interface that is owned and controlled with a single login.

Backup of Virtual Machines Should Be Part of Any Disaster Recovery Strategy

By Alan Laing, Vice President EMEA at Acronis

 

The topic of virtualisation has gone from hype to reality. More and more businesses benefit from the advantages of virtual environments. But not every company has thought about protecting its virtual environment and how to go about it. Are the virtual machines backed up regularly? Is there a comprehensive and viable business continuity plan in place in case of an emergency? There is a plea for a comprehensive data protection across all environments.

In conversations with colleagues from other companies or when looking in IT magazines – one topic that is hard to miss is virtualisation. But unlike previous years, the conversation now is very real about virtualisation projects and exchange experiences, including tips and tricks. The advantages of virtual environments are still in the foreground, like the optimal utilisation of existing resources, the speed and flexibility and the savings in hardware costs.

For mid-sized mainstream companies, the virtualisation success story has become a reality. According to research from the Acronis Global Disaster Recovery Index 2012 this size of company will grow its virtualisation infrastructure by 21% in 2012.  This is 50% higher than the pace identified in a recent Gartner report that predicted virtualisation adoption by larger enterprises is to increase by 14% over the same period.

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Although virtualisation is already present, in terms of data protection in virtual environments, there is a lot of catching up to do. No matter whether the data is in physical or virtual environments – if the worst case occurs and the machines fail, it is imperative that lost data is accessible quickly. A key finding of the Acronis study was, however, that only 37 percent of the companies that have deployed virtual machines, backup their virtual machines daily or more often. 33 percent of respondents indicated that their virtual machines are backed-up less than their physical ones.

This surprising result may at first glance be understandable. Many companies facing declining IT budgets and shrinking IT resources are overwhelmed with complex technologies, or simply don’t see the need to make provisions for an emergency, if they haven’t already experienced one. For many companies, the sheer coexistence of several backup solutions for physical servers and workstations on the one hand and virtual machines on the other hand is a challenge. With three or more backup solutions, developing a business continuity plan can become impossible.

A possible alternative to simplify the process, especially for mid sized businesses, is a unified solution. A solution, where Windows and Linux servers, workstations and laptops, virtual environments and cloud storage can be managed centrally and that combines backup, disaster recovery and data protection functionality at the same time. The consolidation of all tools in one solution simplifies the centralised and automated control over one console for all environments. This means in case of an emergency the recovery process is more simple, reliable, transparent and therefore less time-consuming. It also means costs and risks in the business continuity plan can be easier to estimate and predict, which results in the risk of downtime rapidly declining.

These solutions are more innovative! Recent technologies such as data storage in the cloud play an increasingly important role in data storage. Those who think about tomorrow and integrate this technology today will be one step ahead of the competition.

Clocking Off for Christmas

By Rory Whelan, Voice Marketing Manager, eReceptionist

 

You have all worked hard all year, hit your targets and enjoyed the office party. But while your staff take a break you face a bleak time operating the office phones in case any of those last minute orders go astray.

Alternatively, you could sneak off, put on your slippers and sit by the fire with your family, safe in the knowledge that all your calls are taken care of, even with no one on the premises.

How? By being in your virtual office. A virtual office is a modern day solution to this age-old problem allowing you to have a Christmas break and a business. Even when small businesses are growing too fast to meet demand, it’s so easy to create a professional, established image by using virtual receptionist tools.

Digitisation and virtual offices

Phone systems used to be large, involved engineers and were prohibitively expensive for many small businesses. Then along came digital communications and everything changed. Now, communication is mobile, instant and digital.

Small companies now have an advantage; unlike larger companies, they don’t need expensive fixed phone lines or the premises to house them in. Utilising mobile and virtual office technology they respond quickly, efficiently and cost effectively to customer queries – no matter where they are in the world.

Service with a smile

From the start of telephone, large businesses have used internal switchboards to give callers a list of options to direct their call. Big businesses know that answering calls, rather than going to voicemail is critical to productive engagement.

In addition, surveys show this to be true with a massive 85% of new customers preferring to move on if they get through to voicemail rather than speaking to someone.

However, by creating a virtual office with an e-receptionist to answer calls, smart, nimble businesses are gaining all the benefits of a real life receptionist (or an expensive PBX system) at a fraction of the cost. There’s no hardware or software to be installed or support. All you need is an existing phone line and that includes the mobile in your pocket.

Using a virtual landline number (and that’s a real number, we call it virtual because there’s no fixed line to install) you get the benefits of the professional image that a landline number brings to your business as well as a welcome greeting and caller menu bespoke to your business.

You can also choose a local landline number – anywhere in the UK – as customers often choose local numbers for that first call. But you can also bring your business to national attention and get calls from all over the country with a non-geographic or freephone 0800 numbers.

Always connected

Calls can be forwarded to any location, whether to your home, mobile, hotel room, or if you are paying family a visit over the Christmas period, a colleague’s number or even mum and dad’s! Adjusting your call routing can all be done online – giving you flexibility throughout the year to match your schedule to that of the business.

Finally, with a cloud provider managing your business calls, you’ll get all the quality of regular business phone line – without some of the dropped calls or quality issues that users sometimes find with VoIP.

All in all, having a service such as this allows you to enjoy your Christmas break, safe in the knowledge that you’re not missing out on business just because you’re away from your desk. Meaning that you, your family, your colleagues and customers can have a Merry Christmas and to come back relaxed and refreshed, ready for another successful year.