Why your SMB should be considering desktop virtualization

Take some strain off your IT department. Start virtualizing.

Think about how your business uses its computers and other digital devices. The chances are each desktop or notebook PC has its own operating system and installed applications, which all connect to a network.

Each time an operating system or application is upgraded, it can be time and resource consuming to complete all the updates across your business' IT. Add with the plethora of smartphones and tablets entering the equation, the complexity of keeping your IT up-to-date becomes more than apparent.

Describing virtualization, Symantec states: "Desktop, or endpoint, virtualization enables a centralized server to deliver and manage individual desktops remotely. While users enjoy full access to their systems, IT staff can provision, manage, upgrade, and patch them virtually, instead of physically.

"This also means that users can access files and applications on a central server. Companies might also opt for a hybrid scenario where users can access some applications through a central virtualized server and others through their local computers."

The benefits

Moving to a virtual desktop environment means that the desktops that your employees see on their computers is delivered and controlled centrally from your server room.

It's the massive gains in control that moving to a virtual desktop offers to smaller enterprises in particular that make this technology so attractive. Using a virtual desktop offers a number of advantages that include:

Fast operating system updates.

• Software applications can be updated after hours to avoid business disruption.

• Applications are always available as they are delivered from a central server.

• Data is safe and secure, as continuous backups take place.

• New applications can be rolled out in seconds to every connected desktop.

• Costs are reduced as on-site servers can be leveraged to deliver multiple services across a business.

• Virtualising a desktop environment is an essential component of contingency planning.

• Fast business expansion, as any number of additional workstations can be added to the network

The adoption of more cloud-based services that are themselves delivered virtually to any internet connected devices have shown small businesses the key benefits that virtualisation can bring to their companies.

Time and money to be saved

Research carried out by VMware concluded: "Nine out of 10 IT departments spend at least half of their time doing routine administrative tasks, such as adding and managing new server workloads, adding new employees or developing and launching new applications.

"SMBs who have implemented virtualization reported productivity gains with 73 per cent seeing significant improvements in time spent on routine administrative tasks. Interestingly, IT decision-makers feel their departments are more responsive than business decision-makers do; 33 per cent of IT decision-makers say their IT department is very responsive, while only 18 per cent of business decision-makers say their IT department is very responsive to company needs."

For small business owners virtualising the desktop system across their businesses will begin with a potential overhaul of their current servers. Many SMBs have embraced the server and benefited from the cost reductions and efficiency gains that this has bought to their enterprises. Adding virtual services to your servers is the next logical step.

Converting your existing physical server to support virtual desktops isn't as complex as it once was. Companies such as Cisco, Microsoft and above all VMware have been evolving their support for virtual desktops for several years.

Some of the most mature tools available at the moment come from VMware. To get your business ready to embrace virtual desktops and start benefiting from the features this can bring, your business needs to make relatively simple changes to its server and desktop setup.

Convert your existing server to a virtual server host is the first step. One of the most widely used and cost effective conversion routes is to use VMware Go, as this simplifies the set up of VMware's vSphere Hypervisor (hypervisor is the name given to virtual machines that your server is converted to support).