SMEs are avid adopters of virtualisation

31 Dec 2009

Citrix country manager Niall Gilmore says growing numbers of Irish firms are switching to virtualisation to reduce costs and be flexible.

Niall Gilmore of Citrix would be one of the first to admit that virtualisation has been a confusing issue for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Ultimately, the confusion has to end and the reality in today’s economy is that SMEs have similar problems to large organisations. “Business owners have been sold the idea that its just about servers, well it is not just about servers, but about a business’s overall reliance on hardware and software.

“Effectively, virtualisation – and application virtualisation particularly – helps decouple a firms’ reliance on hardware and software. I meet all sizes of organisations and we have close to 1,600 customers with different sets of applications, productivity tools and what not and all they really want to do is be a flexible enterprise.”

Application virtualisation, Gilmore says, helps businesses break the traditional law of operating systems being tied to the hardware and the law of software applications like Microsoft Office being tied to the operating system you are using.

“I am able to access my SAP applications via my iPhone to do my expenses. This is a solution any business can use, so virtualisation isn’t just about large enterprises. A business with five to 10 users can get their applications delivered to any device of their choosing.”

Gilmore cites the example of a Dublin mobile security technology company that has expanded into the Indian market, locating an entire development team there without having to invest in IT infrastructure as a result of virtualisation.

Headquartered in Dublin, Adaptive Mobile provides mobile security to companies and consumers – helping them counter the growing threat of mobile viruses, malware and spam. Adaptive Mobile’s software works across a range of technologies, including messaging, internet and video.

With the help of Calyx Group and virtualisation technology, the company was able locate its development team in India without the need for dedicated lines or expensive office development.

The company began looking at virtualisation as a way of providing instant support to a new Indian-based mobile operator client – who in accordance with India law required local servicing. Adaptive used this opportunity to grow its operation and implemented virtualisation to expand its development team overseas while retaining its development code and infrastructure in Dublin.

In the interests of speed and flexibility, Jim Donnelly, IT manager, Adaptive Mobile, and his team decided to build the Indian office while simultaneously recruiting staff. In order to support a growing workforce in this way – allowing them to access business-critical applications securely and remotely – the company required an immediate IT infrastructure that was both secure and robust.

“Because of the nature of our software, the Adaptive Mobile development environment is highly complex,” explains Donnelly. “All of our development facilities and code are held in Dublin, so we needed to provide access that was both quick and completely secure.”

Concerned about the technical challenges of delivering complex testing applications to a remote site in India, Donnelly’s team approached Calyx Group.

“We advised Adaptive Mobile that Citrix Delivery Center would allow them to deliver the necessary testing tools to the Indian team, without moving valuable intellectual property from their Dublin HQ,” explains Peter Durnin, senior account manager, Calyx Group. “Using the solutions in the Citrix Delivery Center, all the company would need was a serviced office in Hyderabad – and their staff could access everything securely over the web.”

Calyx used Citrix XenApp Enterprise edition in conjunction with Citrix XenServer to create several virtual machines in Dublin for the company. This enabled Adaptive Mobile to deliver a full Windows desktop preloaded with the development tools needed by the offshore team. A standard internet connection was enough to give the developers all they needed, with no latency issues or dropout.

“Adaptive Mobile had very specific requirements for the deployment of its Indian office, which were successfully implemented using our XenApp and XenServer offerings,” Gilmore explains.

“Both are secure by design, keeping business critical data centralised and offering the greatest flexibility for geographically dispersed companies. XenServer also reduces the number of servers needed, which in turn lowers power and cooling costs.”

Donnelly adds: “Our testing servers are Linux-based, but we were able to fully replicate our customer environment by delivering the full desktop via XenApp. We deliver the Microsoft Office suite too, so our developers have full access to corporate email via Outlook while ensuring all data is 100pc secure as it never leaves head office.”

As a result, Adaptive Mobile was able to bring a new development team online quickly –growing to 10 people just eight weeks after the office opened. At the same time, developers are able to work flexibly via the company’s remote client VPN connection.

To ensure Adaptive Mobile responds seamlessly with customer demand, the office can easily be scaled up or down, which meets its needs as a rapidly changing business and key player in the mobile space. As a result, Donnelly is looking again to the Calyx and Citrix partnership to underpin a forthcoming facility in Brno in the Czech Republic.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years