Virtualisation summit

15 Mar 2010

Everything you need to know about virtualisation … and more.

Tuesday, 30 March will be a key day in the journey of technology in Ireland. IT managers and CIOs will be given an up-close view on how to best tackle their migration to the virtualised world.

Many CIOs and IT managers are unsure of their options. They want to be sure of the return on investment they will gain from a virtualisation strategy and preserve and extend their existing investments in IT.

Moving to the virtualised world from a desktop to server point of view is a logical step to take in a world moving increasingly towards the cloud-computing model.

This occurs at the same time that stalwart technologies like Windows 2000 Server (formerly NT 5.0) and XP Service Pack 2 are reaching the end of their lives.

Benefits of virtualisation

With the onset of Windows 7 and the maturation of Windows Server 2008 R2, the economies of scale, the savings and the flexibility of virtualisation are about to deliver on their promise as a solid foundation for the private enterprise cloud.

Just take for example Lakeland Dairies. In the IT data centre, the number of servers grew to 35, each requiring manual management and tasks. There were too many servers and storage devices that could not be efficiently managed. Microsoft partner Origina, in a pre-implementation audit, established that server CPU utilisation for 21 servers was 11pc and memory utilisation for these servers was relatively low at 27pc.

The €435m a year turnover company deployed the Windows Server 2008 R2 version of Hyper-V and succeeded in reducing the number of servers across various locations to one main site and a backup site, a move that has reduced the amount of travel, expense and time required to maintain the servers. The company was able to also amass considerable savings in terms of disaster recovery, storage and space. Reductions in power requirements have enabled carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced by 22.6 tonnes per annum in keeping with Lakeland Dairies’ policy to improve its green credentials.

According to Ronan Geraghty, Microsoft’s server group lead, the time for businesses across Ireland to enjoy this kind of agility is now upon us. “We would estimate that 18pc of servers in Ireland are virtualised, which would be slightly below the European average.”

He adds that virtualisation is not just the preserve of large companies. “What we’re seeing locally is an uptake of virtualisation in the mid-market segment of the small and medium-business (SMB) space. The benefits of virtualisation can be enjoyed by all sides of the market and not just firms with large data centres.”

What’s on offer at the Microsoft Virtualisation Summit

The 30 March event, Geraghty said, should equip businesses with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about the future of their enterprise IT systems. “Our intention is that people will come away with a good understanding of their options but also a strong grasp of not only the initial benefits but the benefits over time from the management and flexibility point of view of the business.”

He said virtualisation is key in terms of boosting the longevity of legacy applications and avoiding the capital expenditure on new hardware. Another plus is it allows IT professionals to remove the perception of IT as a cost base to being an actual enabler for the business.

“It allows you to get more value while still adding to the capabilities of the business. This resonates very well with organisations that have reduced IT budgets. IT professionals still need to try and add value to the business, they can turn to their existing investment in hardware and get increased utilisation through virtualisation. It’s a quick win.”

Ronnie Dockery, Microsoft Windows Client manager, said the day will also be a valuable opportunity to get to grips with new trends, like desktop virtualisation, which allows workers to access their desktop environment remotely and keep their apps and files up to date, securely.

“Ultimately it’s about agility, but also the opportunity to save money. Every business is under pressure to be more efficient right now. We will give IT professionals and business owners a good understanding of what desktop virtualisation can do for them. It is the next level in agility and it is driving innovation.”

Dockery said desktop virtualisation enabled through the new Windows 7 operating system lends itself to flexible working, green-economy initiatives and increased security through a richer experience, reduced power consumption and Bitlocker included.

Speakers at the Microsoft Virtualisation Summit

The event will also involve talks from major speakers, including Ian Carlson, a senior product manager in Microsoft’s Global Virtualisation and System Centre team.

Hands-on, practical advice will be given by Wilbour “Will” Craddock, a former Windows Server MVP in Canada now working for Microsoft Ireland in the Partner Team as a technical specialist focused on Core Infrastructure. Will is a frequent speaker on the TechNet Ireland tours.

Other speakers from Microsoft partners like Citrix and C-Infinity will also illuminate the subject of virtualisation from the desktop to the server, while key case studies like that of Lakeland Dairies will be discussed in depth.

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