27 Jul

Amazon releases high-end virtual desktops

It’s nearly impossible to discuss virtualization without bringing up Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was one of the first big names in user-friendly virtualization services and it’s only gotten better over the years. With its latest release, AWS is providing customers with some serious computing power.

 

What are AWS virtual desktops?

 

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

 

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

 

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

 

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

 

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

 

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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28 Apr

What is Virtual “Sandboxing?”

<Virtualization comes with several benefits for small- and medium-sized businesses. One of the most important is cybersecurity, but even within that subset are several strategies for protecting your organization. One of such strategy is referred to as sandboxing, and it’s worth learning about.

 

What is sandboxing?

 

Sandboxing is one of the rare concepts in virtualization that the average person can usually grasp in just a couple short sentences. Essentially, sandboxing is the practice of tricking an application or program into thinking it is running on a regular computer, and observing how it performs. This is especially useful for testing whether unknown applications are hiding malware.

Obviously, it gets far more complicated once you delve into the details of how you implement a sandboxing technique, but the short answer is that it almost always involves virtualized computers. The program you want to test thinks it’s been opened on a full-fledged workstation of server and can act normally, but it’s actually inside of a tightly controlled virtual space that forbids it from copying itself or deleting files outside of what is included in the sandbox.

 

An effective way to quarantine

 

Virtualization is no simple task, but the benefits of sandboxing definitely make the effort worth it. For example, virtualized workstations can essentially be created and destroyed with the flip of a switch. That means:

  1. You aren’t required to manage permanent resources to utilize a sandbox. Turn it on when you need it, and when you’re done the resources necessary to run it are reset and returned to your server’s available capacity.
  2. When malware is exposed inside a sandbox, removing it is as simple as destroying the virtual machine. Compare that to running a physical workstation dedicated solely to sandboxing. Formatting and reinstalling the machine would take several hours.
  3. Variables such as which operating system the sandbox runs, which permissions quarantined applications are granted, and minimum testing times can be employed and altered in extremely short periods of time.

This strategy has been around for nearly two decades, and some cybersecurity experts have spent their entire careers working toward the perfect virtual sandbox.
 

Containers: the next step in this evolution

 

Recently, the virtualization industry has been almost totally consumed by the topic of “containers.” Instead of creating entire virtual workstations to run suspicious applications in, containers are virtual spaces with exactly enough hardware and software resources to run whatever the container was designed to do.

Think of the metaphor literally: Older sandboxes came in a uniform size, which was almost always significantly larger than whatever you were placing into them. Containers let you design the size and shape of the sandbox based on your exact specifications.

 

Quarantined virtual spaces fit nicely into the sandbox metaphor, but actually implementing them is impossible without trained help. Whether you’re looking for enhanced security protocols or increased efficiency with your hardware resources, our virtualization services can help. Call us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or shoot us an email at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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29 Jan

Virtualization Types Defined

Virtualization has become the cornerstone for almost all businesses today – and for good reason. It is basically a process of creating a virtual version of a physical IT device. This, in turn, enables businesses to utilize their resources more effectively, while also reducing costs that come with managing and maintaining their infrastructure. Virtualization can be done in many different ways. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what can be virtualized, and how it can benefit your business.

 

Application Virtualization

 

This is a process where applications get virtualized and are delivered from a server to the end user’s device, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. So instead of logging into their computers at work, users will be able to gain access to the application from virtually anywhere, provided an Internet connection is available. This type of virtualization is particularly popular for businesses that require the use of their applications on the go.

 

Desktop Virtualization

 

Similar to application virtualization mentioned above, desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical device and configured as a “virtual desktop infrastructure” (VDI). The major advantages of desktop virtualization is that users are able to access all their personal files and applications from any location and on any PC, meaning they can work from anywhere without the need to bring their work computer. It also lowers the cost of licensing for installing software on desktops and maintenance and patch management is very simple, since all of the virtual desktops are hosted at the same location.

 

Hardware Virtualization

 

This is perhaps the most common type of virtualization today. Hardware virtualization is made possible by a virtual machine manager (VM) called the “hypervisor”. The hypervisor creates virtual versions of computers and operating systems and consolidates them into one large physical server, so that all the hardware resources can be utilized more efficiently. It also enables users to run different operating systems on the same machine at the same time.

 

Network Virtualization

 

Network virtualization is a method that combines all physical networking equipment into a single resource. It is the process of dividing bandwidth into multiple, independent channels, each of which can be assigned to servers and devices in real time. Businesses that would benefit from network virtualization are ones that have a large number of users and need to keep their systems up and running at all times. With the distributed channels, your network speed will increase dramatically, allowing you to deliver services and applications faster than ever before.

 

Storage Virtualization

 

This type of virtualization is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. Storage virtualization is handy when it comes to planning for disaster recovery, since the data stored on your virtual storage can be replicated and transferred to another location. By consolidating your storage into a centralized system, you can eliminate the hassles and costs of managing multiple storage devices.

 

Integrating virtualization into your business can be a complex and confusing process. Ideally you will enlist the help of experts to get the job done right. If you’re looking for top-quality and reliable virtualization solutions, why not get in touch with our professionals today. We’ll make your virtualization experience a quick and painless one. Contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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22 Jun

Containers vs. Virtual Machines

Businesses today rely on their applications and critical documents more than ever before to stay efficient and competitive. With that in mind, virtual machines are often the go-to platform to ensure precisely that, but things may change with the increasing popularity of containers. What exactly are containers, though? Are they better than virtual machines? Here we take a look at which will best fit your business.

 

Containers, just like virtual machines, are used for storing files, critical data, and applications in an organized manner following specific access rules. So how do they differ from virtual machines, and what are the pros and cons of containers? We’ll take a look below.

 

Containers can pack a lot more applications into a single cloud or data center than a virtual machine can. And because containers only require little memory from an operating system and its supporting programs and libraries, you can put two to three times as many as applications on a single server with a container than you can with a virtual machine. In addition, containers allow you to create a portable, consistent operating environment for development, testing, and deployment.

 

Still, there’s a lot more to containers than how many apps you can put in a box, and not everything about them is positive. One of the problems with containers that is often overlooked is security. Simply put, containers do not contain. What this means is that if a user or application has superuser privileges within the container, the underlying operating system could be cracked. And while you can secure containers by mounting a /sys filesystem as read-only among other options, it takes a lot of time and effort to do so.

 

Another container security issue stems from the release of many containerized applications. This is a problem because if you happen to install the first container that comes to hand, you’re likely to have brought a Trojan Horse into your server. You need to inform your staff and employees that they simply can’t download apps from the Internet into a container like they do games for their smartphone. Not only that, but breaking deployments into more functional discrete parts using a container is possible, but means more parts for you to manage. The whole point of a container is to run a single application, so the more functionality you stick into a container, the more likely it is you should actually be using a virtual machine in the first place.

 

So how do you decide between containers and virtual machines? Ask yourself whether you need to run the highest possible number of instances of a particular application on the fewest possible servers. If so, then containers are the best option for you. But if you want the flexibility of running multiple applications on your servers and you have a variety of operating systems, virtual machines are your safest bet.

 

Looking to learn more about how virtualization can help your business prosper? Contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net. We’re sure we can tailor a solution that meets your unique needs.

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03 Feb

What exactly is server virtualization?

One of the biggest tech trends of the past two years is the topic of virtualization. This is a wide ranging topic that covers issues such as digitizing aging phone systems, moving programs off of hard drives and into the cloud, as well as taking existing servers and creating digital counterparts that have many benefits to users. While virtualization is a buzzword, many users are still fairly unclear about virtualization especially in relation to servers.

Here is a brief overview of server virtualization, when you should use it and what you should look for in a virtualization solution.

 

What exactly is server virtualization?

In a nutshell, server virtualization is the practice of taking physical servers and digitizing them into virtual ones. In truth, this isn’t a fully virtual solution; your servers will continue to be on a physical server, just in virtual format.

Modern virtual solutions run multiple systems – commonly called instances – on one existing server. Traditionally, servers were inefficient especially when it came to use of physical resources and hardware – much was left under utilized. Virtualization ensures that use of physical resources and hardware are maximized, leading to users getting better value from servers.

This stacking of existing systems onto a smaller number of systems decreases acquisition and overhead costs – maintenance and power – while increasing the amount of physical space available for other functions including room to grow.

Virtualization is largely made possible due to increases made in technology. For example: A server with four processors costs about 1/10th of what it did a decade ago, and is more powerful. More power and cheaper cost has given companies of all sizes the capabilities to virtualize.

 

When should I employ server virtualization?

Virtualization is ideal for functions that are small to medium scale, ie., most simple or day-to-day business functions. If you have applications that are resource intensive and rely on more than one or two servers to be able to run, then it’s probably safer to not virtualize that particular service.

Most companies will run physical servers with virtual solutions to a maximum of 50% CPU usage during peak operations. If you have multiple servers running applications that, at peak, only use about 5% of the server’s power, these would be ideal to virtualize – you could virtualize up to 10 physical servers.

If an application uses 48% of available computing power at peak usage, it’s probably not the best candidate for virtualization as it will cause other instances on the same server to run slower, thus negating any advantages gained from virtualization.

 

What should I look for in a virtualization solution

When looking for a virtualization solution many companies will have different needs that they need to take into account. There are three factors that almost every company should be aware of when shopping for a virtualization solution:

  1. It’s not ‘all-in-one’ – This seems to be an increasing demand of many clients; they want one system or server to take care of everything. This is not a good idea, as if something happens to the server all of your systems could be rendered useless. The best solutions take steps to ensure your solutions are redundant. That way if one fails, or needs to be fixed, it can easily be switched to the other with no loss of service.
  2. There’s a migration solution – Most businesses, especially small to medium enterprises, will likely be looking to migrate servers from a physical to virtual (P2V) solution. This can be a time consuming experience for the uninformed. Therefore, a good service will have P2V migration tools or options to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
  3. The service is supported – Due to the increasingly complex nature of virtualization, good services should offer support. The best services should be able to manage your whole virtualization solution, including installing patches and updates and prompt service. They should also be able to work with your existing licences and ensure you’re not paying extra, meeting your licensing needs.

There are many different aspects to take into account when virtualizing your systems, and if you don’t have the IT support or knowledge, it could be a complete failure. That’s why we recommend contacting us if you plan to virtualize. We have plans that can help, or will be able to point you in the right direction. So, call before you start.

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01 Feb

What is Desktop Virtualization?

Desktop Virtualization is a new way to simplify management, strengthen security, and ultimately gaining new efficiencies from your investment in IT. Read on to find out more.

There is growing interest in Desktop Virtualization with its promise of improved manageability, security and efficiency for the business. Simply put, Desktop Virtualization is new technology that separates the system software such as the operating system and applications from the underlying hardware.

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