Today when we hear talk of virtualizing we tend to think of large enterprises and vast server farms. But these days the technology is so mature and relatively cheap that it is something that I believe small businesses should take a look at.
Recently VmWare made it’s EXSi hypervisor free for download and usage. This is a big deal for those of us that need the added flexibility of multiple servers but don’t have the space for multiple server, like us at KCCS because we run as the business out of our homes and utilizes online storage mediums as much as possible except for confidential information such as customer information. This gives us the ability to simply install this as the base OS then install what ever virtual servers we require saving us tons of space.
Another great use for virtualization is on the desktop. Recently a certain client of ours came to us with the challenge of creating an environment that he has total control of, for instance none of his remote employees will have direct access to customer information and cannot copy the customer database for their own use, while at the same time they must be able to connect remotely and work as if they were physically at the terming. After months of research and dozens of scenarios we came up with the idea of using Citrix Desktop virtualization as the solution. This idea being that we simply create about two to three virtual desktops probably using VMware and load these into the the software, from then on these virtual machines become part of the corporate network with their own ip address and access to other network resources such as the storage server.
All this would require is for the users to have a
1. high-speed connection which in this part of the North-east isn’t really a problem
2. vpn software to allow them to connect to the network
3. and finally a copy of Citrix Presentation Server on their computers
Once the user is logged into the VPN they simply open a link that references the Citrix server and a desktop is presented to them which looks and feels very much as though they are sitting at a physical terminal in the office.
This satisfies the clients need for security and transparency and plans are in the works to implement this on a test basis. I will try to keep you informed as things progress.
BTW if anyone has a better idea of how this could be accomplished with the requirements state above feel free to contact us as any suggestions are welcome.