MAKING YOUR MOVE
On the whole, while there are pitfalls to be aware of, the diverse range of reasons and ways to implement virtualisation provide the channel with opportunities to leverage today.
From migrating away from distributed fat client desktops to thin clients, using virtual storage to overcome data growth pain, dynamically turning on machines to accommodate demand spikes, provisioning secure independent environments for development and helping companies overcome internal business process issues, virtualisation can provide significant benefits.
And the range of driving factors will only continue to expand and the virtualisation tentacles grip ever more elements of the IT architecture both within large enterprise and the SMB space.
As the virtualisation movement spreads beyond its stronghold of the server and storage space players are starting to witness some unique uses of the technology.
VMware senior product marketing manager Asia-Pacific, Andre Kemp, said some clients were using server virtualisation to sidestep geographic boundaries for proactive business continuity reasons.
"The basics of VMotion require that you have a 1Gb network connection between the two ESX servers [a VMware product] and access to shared storage," Kemp explained.
"Those lines that you would see on a diagram are no more than architectural lines. What we have seen customers do is create a stretched cluster. We have a couple of customers using VMotion between suburbs."
This basically allows them to move images from one server to another in a different suburb. So, for example, if the air conditioning has gone out in one datacentre they can move the virtual machines to another datacentre in another suburb and then do physical maintenance on the first datacentre.
Gen-i practice manager application delivery and virtualisation, Safi Obeidullah, said some clients wanted to leverage virtualisation to let employees work from home, particularly call centre operators.
Those who have taken the option get their corporate desktop, voice and data, and all their applications using a thin client and an Internet connection.
"As you know there is a lot of buzz around working from home and with the rise in fuel prices and the cost of travel it's a pretty good option staff are interested in," Obeidullah said. "It's people mainly that are typically in a call centre and are phonebased. For those guys it is easy to work from home as they don't necessarily need to have a lot of face-to-face interaction.
"But some people want to do it from home because of the travel cost, or they have kids at home."
In addition, other players are even envisaging a virtualisation derivative of online pop culture like Second Life. Citrix director strategy and operations, Dr Michael Harries, who also works with the firm's advanced products group, claimed the birth of 3D Internet would fuse with the business world in future.
"Perhaps a great example from left field that we are doing in the advanced products group is pulling collaboration technologies like GoToMeeting into virtual worlds like Second Life or World of Warcraft," he said.
"The idea being that there are some benefits you get from working with an avatar, that sense of being there, and ways that we can pick up on those benefits. Are there ways we can pick up the sense of presence and use them in business collaboration? How far can we go with that? How much further can that go? There has been a lot of work and talk about the Internet turning into a 3D environment over time."
For Harries being able to check what is going on in the office - by taking a virtual walk down the corridor - could become more common going forward.