Archive for the ‘Computer Company Cloud Data Center’ category

Email Encryption – Solutions for Small Business

January 6th, 2014

Communicating by email has become second nature for most of us. Only a decade or so ago, it was a strange and new activity that we viewed as a novelty. It is now an indispensable part of our personal and business lives. Unfortunately, as the use and acceptance of email has grown, so have the number of ways in which itcan be used for criminal or just plain evil, purposes. For this reason, we suggest looking into utilizing email security in the form of email encryption rom The Computer Company.

Corporations and governments are using encrypted email technology because of the sensitive nature of their communications. Typically, this type of security is very expensive and technologically advanced. Certainly, for the average personal user of email, it is not practical. More and more, we are seeing this type of email encryption being developed in simpler and much less expensive formats, targeted at the small business user. But is something like this appropriate for you? Let’s take a look at the risks of using unsecured email.

We all know and receive spam messages on a daily basis. For the most part, we employ spam filtering tools to block these messages and they work pretty well. We have become trained to see spam as potentially dangerous. It may simply be an annoying ad offering us designer watches for $15 or it may contain malware, viruses or worse, which is why we are happy that the spam blocker prevents it from entering our inbox at all.

Look at how your spam filter is configured. There usually is a setting to have it permanently remove spam messages as soon as they are identified. This is effective, but if a message from a safe sender gets identified as spam, it will be destroyed along with the junk. The trick is to label all safe senders as such and tell the spam filter that they are OK to receive emails from. However, without much sophistication, bad guys can intercept an email in transit, change the content and even the sender, and then let it continue its journey to your computer. In this case, the safe sender might actually be an email you don’t want to open, particularly if it contains an attachment. In this case, you can only hope that your anti-virus software is going to intercept any threats that might be contained within the innocent-looking email.

Remember that every email you send is like a postcard. If someone wants to read it, all they need to be able to do is access one of the mail servers that it will be routed through on its journey, and this is not as difficult as it sounds. Emails can travel around the globe even if the destination is across the street. It can be routed through servers in faraway countries where sniffers may be installed to detect and read the email. Police and security forces are constantly monitoring our email, searching for keywords that might alert them to the possibility of terrorist or criminal activity. Generally, the content of our emails is pretty benign and of little value to the bad guys, but occasionally, they hit the jackpot and intercept really valuable information in an email, like a password, account number, username or PIN (personal identification number). When you need to communicate such information to someone (which you should really never do anyways), use the telephone.

Email encryption software will actually re-write the content of your email in code, making it difficult for the email to be read by anyone other than the intended recipient. You may already be familiar with a common form of encryption used on web-based HTML pages. This is a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate, which is identified by the page address having the prefix https instead of the regular http. Never enter credit card or banking information or conduct any type of financial transaction on a site that doesn’t start with https! The SSL certificate is a form of encryption that the web site uses to scramble the information, protecting it from prying eyes.

Email encryption technology is even more sophisticated than SSL, but as we rely more and more on email and criminals become more ingenious and clever, it may be wise to look into the different options available. In the meantime, practice safe email usage, use common sense and avoid the headaches that many people have experienced by having their sensitive information compromised

For a free evaluation of your circumstances or a demonstration of our email encryption solution please contact us today.

The Computer Company

800 418 2358






By Jack D Carmichael

Cloud Gaining Traction in Government, Education Markets

June 27th, 2013

Cloud computing is gaining momentum in the government and education space. Software as a Service offerings are growing rapidly, driven by the education software developers seeing an opportunity to gain new customers. We’re also seeing many of our clients re-architecting their infrastructure to take advantage of SaaS and cloud-type offerings. It’s largely about speed of deployment and flexibility in getting to applications. But many of the same issues that inhibit cloud issues in the business community also impact government and education. Most notably, prospects express concerns about security and availability, especially when the infrastructure is carrying sensitive personal information. Therefore, assessing the relative sensitivity of the respective agency is often one of the first steps in evaluating the feasibility of proceeding.

Government and education departments, that are not guided by as many compliance regulations are taking advantage of the cloud as fast as they can, we are seeing the same thing with managed services in that space. It costs them too much money to continually build out these networks and to operate them, so they are looking for new ways to gain efficiencies. It’s happening in education, and it’s happening in government.

The major players in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) space, including Amazon Web Services, Google, HP and Microsoft are actively marketing their government cloud practices. Amazon lists NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Recovery Accountability Transparency Board and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory among its cloud clients.

Nearly one-third of the federal government’s IT budget is spent on maintaining and upgrading older infrastructure, and the same ratios are substantially true for state and local governments.

More RFPs are being based around hosted voice, hosted call center, and things of that nature. They are actively utilizing these services in the procurement process because they see cost benefits in consuming technology on a per-seat, per-month basis.”

The city of Boston announced that Google and Appirio had been granted a contract to move all city workers and schools to a unified messaging and collaboration platform based on Google Apps by the end of the year. The city claims nearly 75,000 email users, including accounts for its 57,000 public schools students. The move is expected to cut expenses by more than 30 percent per year.

A number of government agencies in major cities have made similar moves to the cloud. Last year, the Chicago public school system made a similar transition to the cloud, in a move expected to save $6 million over three years.

Some of the savings realized by local government agencies comes from the reduced need to maintain high-end staff. As the technology moves forward, it’s harder for public-sector entities to keep the necessary skill sets within their four walls. So when they deploy a premises-based solution, they often find themselves struggling to support it.

Want to know more about saving your IT dollars, please contact

The Computer Company
800 418 2358 x 127





Written by Ken Presti


Do All Roads Lead to the Cloud?

June 14th, 2013

A change is occurring in today’s data center environment.Similar to the past emergence of client/server computing, storageconsolidation, and server virtualization, the next big shift for the data center of tomorrow appears to begin with cloud computing. How do we know cloud computing is destined to be more than just the latest marketing message promoted by companies to convince you to buy more of their services? Three points from the world of public clouds give credence to the growing importance of cloud computing:

  1.  Popular consumer cloud services with downloadable apps like iTunes, Google Mail™, and even Netflix are good examples of how easy it has become to purchase, use, or access just the items, infrastructure, and services you want from an easy self-service, Web-based interface. How many workers and executives in your company today not only use these services themselves but also compare why it’s so much harder and more expensive to access and use their own internal IT systems?
  2. Business-oriented public cloud services, such as CRM-focused or payroll processing apps from companies like ADP and PayCom, have allowed many companies using these services to achieve greater success and cost savings by outsourcing from the cloud. Early successful applications like these accessed from a public cloud infrastructure tend to fall into the categories of software as a service (SaaS).
  3. Surprisingly low-cost, scalable and agile, cloud-based Web services are now available for things like block storage, database platforms, and virtual server platforms. These tend to fall in the category of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or, to a lesser degree, platform as a service (PaaS). Popular examples of IaaS come from cloud vendors like Google, or Amazon web services.

Public clouds offer great promise to consumers and business users alike. Yet, how does that translate into the need to develop a cloud platform behind the firewall of your current IT data center? It’s no longer a question of whether or not you should move into cloud computing. The question becomes whether or not you should build your own  private cloud, buy into an existing cloud services from a third-party provider, or do something in between these two cases.

The cloud can solve a number of needs There’s no shortage of IT personal and cloud providers attempting to share the many benefits of cloud computing. In fact, many of these sources are specifically targeting the education of executives in companies just like yours. This is for good reason:  Cloud computing offers a number of operational, financial, and business benefits that your small business should be looking in to right now!

Are You Ready For the Cloud?

June 5th, 2013

Five Questions to Help Small Businesses Decide if they’re Ready to Take the Leap

You’ve heard about cloud computing, and may have wondered what is it exactly, and what it can mean for your business. The simple answer is that cloud computing is anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. In fact, you may already perform some of your business functions in the cloud, including website hosting, email applications, Google Apps™, or even®.

You may have seen references to categories of cloud-based computing such as Software as a Service (Saas) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). SaaS means that software you would normally install on your computer is instead delivered via the Internet. IaaS is where you rent space in a data center and use a provider’s servers instead of buying new hardware to run your business. With all the services available, there is an opportunity to move your entire business to the cloud. However, most small businesses are opting for a hybrid solution with some data or applications in the cloud and some remaining on company premises. Now that you know what cloud computing is and what it can do for small businesses, we have compiled five questions to help

You decide if the cloud is right for you:

1. Do you find it difficult to budget?  By turning to the cloud, small companies can achieve a significantly lower total cost of ownership for their IT resources. There is no need to purchase software licenses or expensive servers. Maintenance issues such as downed servers or outdated software, and the costs associated with them, become negligible since your cloud services provider is responsible for maintaining the hardware and software. Add in the cost of physical floor space to house multiple servers, plus the electricity required to run them, and cloud services begin to look rather attractive.

2. Are you struggling to manage your individual computers and network infrastructure? It is not uncommon for a small business to berunning the email, website, file storage, backup, security management, finance, and accounting programs all on one server that is being managed by an overworked IT manager. Compare that situation to an application delivered securely over the Internet, hosted on a server farm with the latest equipment, and managed and maintained around the clock by IT experts. In this case, an unexpected boost in traffic to your website will not slow down your entire network as it might with server-based, on-premise applications. Your provider responds in the moment with potentially higher service levels and functional expertise.

3. Is it difficult for you to keep up with current trends such as mobility, or implement changes to your infrastructure? Because the bulk of hardware, software, security, and maintenance are managed by the cloud services vendor, a cloud-based infrastructure is flexible and responsive, allowing you to leverage new capabilities and implement changes quickly and easily. New software, security updates, or hardware appliances can all be provided to benefit users at a much faster rate than most in- house IT departments could hope to achieve. In the cloud, speedy deployment and swift adoption are the norm.

4. Do you wish you had more time to focus on your business? A cloud computing infrastructure frees your time, allowing you to focus on your core business. With fewer servers to manage and fewer client computers failing, you’ll have time to build competitive strategies that give your company the tools and processes it needs to grow. Many companies think a good IT department is one that’s fixing computers, securing networks, and ensuring the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system is working. However, a great IT department is really one that helps its business strategically use technology to advance the overall company goals.

5. Do you need to protect your company’s digital assets? Cloud computing can provide inherent security to remote employees. In some cases, employees are only accessing data and applications through hosted servers, and no data is stored locally. However, most small businesses are deciding that a hybrid solution is best, where they utilize some data or applications in the cloud and leave some remaining on company premises. Viruses can still wreak havoc on your local computers, and malware and malicious scripts can destroy your network. With these threats in mind, ensure any local data is backed up to protect your infrastructure. Client computers, on-premise servers, overall network, local data, and applications must be secured, encrypted, and protected with complex passwords. Regardless of how mobile users work, in the cloud or on local computers, their devices need to be a part of a backup system so that any locally stored information is protected. Security software to protect against viruses, malware, and unauthorized access must be installed as well. Security is not just about protecting data. It is also about ensuring your own business continuity. Primary and secondary data centers and redundancy plans work to keep your information and applications available and secure.

Cloud computing could be a solution to your problems.


Article provided by Symantec a global leader in providing security, storage, and systems management solutions.

A Guide to Key Virtualization Terminology

May 17th, 2013

A Guide to Key Virtualization Terminology

One of the most important steps in mastering a new technology is learning the associated terminology or vocabulary. In the Information Technology (IT) field, as much of the terminology is often used inconsistently. The following defines the terminology associated with IT virtualization. .

This section defines many of the most commonly used terms in the virtualization vocabulary.. These are straight forward, commonly accepted definitions.

Virtual Machine (VM) – A set of virtual hardware devices, including virtual CPU, virtual RAM, virtual I/O devices, and other virtual hardware devices. Software that resembles and behaves like a traditional, physical server and runs a traditional operating system (OS).

Virtual Server – A VM running a server OS such as a Windows Server or a Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server. A virtual server typically runs one server-based application.

Virtual Desktop – A VM that is running a desktop OS, such as Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Desktop. A virtual desktop typically has one direct, concurrent user.

Virtual Hardware Device – A software component that resembles and behaves like a specific hardware device. The guest OS and software applications in the VM behave as though the virtual hardware device is actually a physical hardware device. A VM is a set of virtual hardware devices that correspond to the set of devices found in traditional, physical servers, such as virtual CPUs, virtual RAM, virtual storage adapters, and virtual Ethernet adapters.

Virtual CPU) – Software that resembles and behaves ike a traditional, physical CPU. Depending on the underlying technology, vCPUs could be software-emulated or software-modified:

Virtual Network – A network provided by virtual switches. It may be an extension of a traditional network that is built on physical switches and VLANs, or, it may be an isolated network formed strictly from virtual switches.

Virtual Infrastructure – A collection of VMs, virtual networks and storage, and other virtual items that can deploy and run business applications, as an alternative to running applications directly on physical infrastructure. It allows IT personnel to install software applications in
traditional OSs, such as Windows and Linux, without needing to know details of the underlying physical infrastructure. The OSs and applications run in VMs, in virtual networks, and on virtual storage.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure – A set of virtual desktops running on
virtual infrastructure. VDI often involves detailed optimization at the  physical infrastructure, virtual infrastructure desktop OS, and application levels to allow close to native performance. VDI management software automatically brokers and connects users to their virtual desktops. VDI management software also automatically provisions virtual desktop pools from VM templates.

Cloud – A complex system that provides a set of services to consumers, without requiring the consumer to understand any of the underlying complexities of the system. Although this definition is simple, it is a highly accepted definition of the term, even when used to describe non-IT clouds. For example, some people consider electricity, water, and cable television services to be provided by clouds. Clouds provide some IT-based service, often utilizing virtual infrastructure. Businesses can use privately owned clouds, externally owned clouds, or both external and private clouds (hybrid clouds).

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IaaS provides virtual infrastructure as a service where consumers can easily implement and utilize VMs without needing to understand, manage, or own the underlying physical infrastructure.

Software as a Service (SaaS) – Provides software applications as a
service where consumers can easily use applications without needing to
understand, manage, or own the underlying server operating systems, software applications, databases, or infrastructure. Examples of public SaaS are Google Apps and Salesforce CRM

Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Provides a software development platform
as a service where consumers can easily build applications on a provided platform without any need to understand, manage, or own the underlying infrastructure. It allows developers to easily create applications that are easily portable. Examples of public PaaS are Microsoft Azure and

Clone – Typically refers to the action of copying one VM or VM template to create a new VM. During a clone operation, the VM files are typically copied, renamed, and modified to customize the new VM.

VM Snapshot – A point-in-time capture of the state of a VM. Snapshots allow the user to revert the VM to a previously captured state. A primary use is to undo changes that were made in a VM but are no longer wanted.

Highly Available (HA) – A system or component that has some automatic protection in case of disruption. The protection may allow a small amount of unplanned downtime, but it will automatically correct the issue within a pre-determined time interval.

VM High Availability (VM HA) – Ensures that a VM is automatically made available, although the host on which it runs fails. VM HA may require an automatic reboot of the VM on another host.

Interested in learning more.. Come to our Webinar. Register Now!

Thu, May 30, 2013 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

This webinar provides a basic understanding of server virtualization and how it can benefit your company. The webinar covers statistics, benefits, features and concepts of how VMWare solutions increase utilization of your IT infrastructure. We will also explore case studies of this technology and
explain how virtualization saves companies money. We will also provide a
demonstration of a live VCenter control panel. Register today!

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About the Author John A. Davis has been a VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) and VMware Certified Professional (VCP) since 2004,


Winco Trading Goes to the Cloud

May 9th, 2013

Winco Trading Company (, based in St. Charles, IL has 12 employees and recently moved their company to the cloud through a service provided by The Computer Company (  Winco Trading’s President, Flora Lipke, made the decision to move to the cloud based on the following criteria:

  • They were facing an equipment purchase to replace outdated servers and computers.
  • WincoTrading has employees in their corporate office and remote locations in the US
    and China.  The cloud environment allowed the entire company to collaborate on a single outsourced environment.
  • When compared to traditional IT infrastructure, the cloud service provided by The Computer Company was about 45% less!
  • At the end of the business day, everyone can go home at night knowing that their IT infrastructure is protected.

Ms. Lipke was quoted as saying, “The conversion went very well and the staff at The Computer Company are excellent”.

If you would like to know more about Winco Trading’s cloud solution, give The Computer Company a call at 800-418-2358 or visit our website:  The Computer Company offers free cloud conversion analyses.

Attend our free personalized webinar just for you. Would you like to learn more about the benefits and features of Cloud Computing and how it can save you money? Please ask us for a free analysis of your current circumstances and how The Computer Company can assist you.

Virtualization the First Step to Cloud Computing

May 3rd, 2013

 Virtualization the First Step to Cloud Computing

Many small businesses have invested time and resources to secure and back up their servers, computers, data, and overall network infrastructure in the traditional client-server environment. Now, just when they thought you could relax and reap the benefits of these efforts, emerging new technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization have arrived on the scene, bringing both significant benefits and new challenges.  Cloud computing is essentially a shift to using relatively scalable and reliable, pay-per-use, third-party services over the Internet to do business, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Virtualization is the first step to cloud computing. By using software to divide one physical server into multiple isolated virtual environments, virtualization enables a more efficient utilization of existing computing resources. It is also a key stepping stone for cloud computing, as it makes physical and logical resources available through a virtual service layer across the enterprise.

Virtualization offers small businesses the exciting promise of significant time and money savings, increased productivity, and enhanced customer service. Current servers are better utilized, old machines can be retired, floor space is freed up, and—with the need to power and cool fewer systems—energy costs plummet The right solution can protect your data, reduce storage and management costs, and automate storage and management savings with efficient archiving, backup, and security.

There’s no doubt that virtualization offers dramatic benefits for small businesses, including efficiency, cost savings, and increased reliability and performance. But in order to take advantage of these benefits, companies must properly adapt their best practices, policies, tools, and procedures to the virtual environment. With a little caution, planning, and common sense, your virtualization implementation can allow you to do more with less and free up IT staff to focus on strategic projects that help your company grow. To be able to finally harness the full power of IT for a competitive advantage.

Need more information or a free analysis of your current situation attend one of our webinars or just contact the Computer Company at 800 418 2358

Virtualization is the First Step to Cloud Computing

Thu, May 30, 2013 2:00 PM EDT – 3:00 PM EDT

This webinar provides a basic understanding of server virtualization and how it can benefit your company. The webinar covers statistics, benefits, features and concepts of how VMWare solutions increase utilization of your IT infrastructure. We will also explore case studies of this technology and explain how virtualization saves companies money. We will also provide a demonstration of a live VCenter control panel. Register today!

Cloud Computing Explained

April 23rd, 2013

Cloud computing is a model for allowing convenient, on-demand access to a shared resource of configurable resources (i.e. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly setup and utilized with minimal management effort or service provider work. This cloud model promotes quick availability and ease of use.

The Cloud Computing strategy offers the promise of sizeable cost savings combined with increased IT agility. It is considered important that state government and industry begin utilization of this technology in response to difficult economic times.

The answer to what does the cloud consist of question varies, depending on who responds. But the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) define cloud computing as a set of characteristics, delivery models and deployment models that include the following:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Ubiquitous network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • A pay-per-use billing model

The NIST also explains that the cloud has four deployment models — hybrid cloud, private cloud, public cloud and community cloud — and three delivery models — Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

The deployment models can be used for any of the delivery models — think private PaaS — and those delivery models have become umbrellas for a number of other as-a-Service offerings, such as Applications as aService, under SaaS, and Management as a Service, under IaaS.

But the terms may not matter as much as the end results. Cloud services simply offer a more efficient way of delivering IT,  a chief IT architect for a government agency based in Connecticut states it in these terms.

“In the end, the platform doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s all about the best way to deliver the service”. …

If you are interested in learning more please attend our next webinar

Overview of Cloud Backup Solutions

Thu, May 2, 2013 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

Quad Backup the Total Solution

April 18th, 2013

Quad Backup the Total Solution

On-Site Backup
for all your PCs, Servers and Network Devices using the Quad Backup
Solution. We provide all the software, hardware and storage you will need for
your company’s data on your local network. Any or all of your local data can be
restored in seconds.

Off-Site Backup
Once your company’s data (including bare metal server and pc backups) is stored
on your local network, Quad Backup will automatically move a continuous stream
of data to a triple redundant cloud storage facility. In the event of a local
natural disaster (fire, tornado, hurricane, etc.) your company’s data will be
safely stored in our secure data centers restored in seconds.

Free US Based Technical Support
Once your Quad Backup System is configured you can obtain unlimited US based
technical support by calling our help desk support line at 800-418-2358 We
pledge to help and assist you with the Quad Backup so that you can setup,
configure and recover data anyplace in the world. 95% of the time we connect to
your Quad Backup System with remote assistance

3-Year Hardware Warranty
If anything goes wrong with your Quad Backup System we will provide you
hardware for free! We have replacement systems on hand and we are ready to
re-configure your system on a moment’s notice.

No Recovery Fees
With the Quad Backup System your company’s information will be backed up
locally and globally in multiple locations. There is no fee for recovery of
your data using the array of recovery tools available through Quad Backup!

Data Deduplication & Local Compression
Compression Data deduplication and compression occurs prior to data storage and
transmit using state-of-the-art technology. This ensures that backups are
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and at the off-site data centers, and needed bandwidth to transfer data
off-site remains manageable

Bare MetalRestoration Locally or Globally
Quad Backup Provide your company Virtual Machines that allow you to quick spin
up stored bare metal backups and restore them to a Virtual Machine.

Virtual Server Snapshot Storage and Recovery
The Quad Backup Service allows for full virtual machine (VM) storage and serves
as a “Hot Hypervisor” in the event your production environment is not working.
This allows your organization to easily spin a full snapshot of your server to
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Message-Level Exchange Recovery
Quad Backup saves your email messages at the “Message Level” allowing you to
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Application and Database Recovery
Quad Backup conducts “Full Metal Backups” of your servers including your
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Instant On-site and Off-site Virtualization
The Quad Backup Devices serves as an instant virtualized server! The latest
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Buy Back Policy
If you purchase a Quad Backup Device and the system reaches capacity (too much
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Want to learn more. Please contact us or become a Dealer. Want  a live demo. Quad Backup the Total Solution

A Virtualized Data Center is a Happy Data Center

March 29th, 2013

A virtualized data center is a happy data center, says survey.

Server virtualization crossed an important milestone in 2012, according to a recent report by Aberdeen Group Inc. The market research firm found the number of applications currently running in virtual environments passed the 50% mark.

“Enterprises now feel quite comfortable deploying virtualized servers,” noted Dick Csaplar, senior research analyst at Aberdeen Group Inc.

Higher utilization rates and a reduction in server requirements are a few reasons why the technology has become so popular. Traditionally, companies purchased a server, or multiple systems, for each application. During nonpeak times, those systems often sat idly.

Virtualization enables enterprises to place multiple applications on a server, thereby increasing system utilization. Typically, companies aim for a utilization rate at about 80% capacity — they want to leave some room in case an emergency pops up. In many cases, virtualization increases utilization from about 10% to 15% to 50% to 75% utilization.

With servers operating more effectively, businesses need less hardware. In fact, Aberdeen found that companies gain a 10- to 15-fold reduction in hardware systems by moving to virtualization.

Server virtualization streamlines data centers

Kroll Factual Data, a firm with 300 employees that provides information services to the mortgage industry, offers a good example of the potential savings. The company delivers credit reports, risk assessment reports, business background research, collection information services and employee screenings to clients. In the last five years, Kroll Factual Data acquired 58 companies, and the purchases resulted in a hodgepodge of servers.

Maintaining the systems was a manually intensive effort. Traditionally, it took the IT staff two weeks to configure a server. IT had to physically transport an acquired firm’s servers to Kroll Factual Data’s data center, start up the servers to ensure they were operational and then integrate the new systems into its data center. The process was extremely time-consuming (it took 30 to 60 days), involved a huge amount of risk (some of the components did not work together) and resulted in occasional failures. Consequently, the IT professionals spent their time on mundane server configuration tasks rather than on creating new value-added business applications.

In early 2008, the business wanted to streamline its data center infrastructure. Virtualization was a good fit because the corporation wanted to reduce its data center costs as well as enable its server infrastructure to better meet spikes in demand. The firm’s business activity often fluctuated; for example, changes in interest rates or federal lending policies create surges in demand for the firm’s services.

Kroll Factual Data took a look at the virtualization software market and evaluated the available products, including Citrix System Inc.’s XenServer, Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s solution. The financial services company ultimately selected Hyper-V.

“About 99% of our applications run on Windows, so it made sense for us to go with the Microsoft solution,” said Chris Steffen, principal technical architect at Kroll Factual Data, which has served as a beta site for all three Hyper-V releases.

In the summer of 2008, Kroll Factual Data began updating its servers to Windows Server 2008 Datacenter with Hyper-V, a process that took several months. Upon completion, the company dramatically pruned its physical servers, going from 650 servers to 22 systems, which resulted in cutting its annual hardware expenditures by tens of thousands of dollars.

The savings did not stop there.

“With virtualizations, companies reduce their energy consumption significantly,” said David Brown, president of Datotel LLC, an IT data center services provider that operates a 34,000-square-foot data center in St Louis and provides businesses with colocation services, managed services and cloud computing resources to enterprises. Since companies run fewer servers, they consume less energy and reduce their data center footprint. For instance, Kroll Factual Data reduced its energy costs by $440,000 annually.

Personnel savings are also possible. At Kroll Factual Data, provisioning a virtual machine now takes 10 to 15 minutes rather than the weeks typically required previously. Consequently, the staff now concentrates more on higher-value projects, such as creating new reports for customers, and less on deploying, maintaining and upgrading its servers.

But virtualization presents enterprises with new challenges. Training is one possible hurdle.

“Data center technicians need to develop the skills so they understand how to deploy and maintain virtualized servers,” said Datotel’s Brown.

New management challenges arise. Information from many different applications is consolidated on single servers, which means large amount of data need to be sifted through and interpreted. Also, virtualization software dynamically moves workloads from server to server depending on which has unused processing cycles. Consequently, techies often do not have clear visibility into what data is being processed where, so troubleshooting becomes more difficult.

Finally, corporations have expressed the trepidations evident with any new technology. “Companies have moved most of their simple apps to a virtualized environment but have been less likely to tinker with mission-critical systems,” said Csaplar.

As evidence, more than two-thirds of enterprises have already migrated their test, light business and Web applications to a virtualized environment. However, less than half of their database, email and mission-critical applications run on virtualized servers, according to Aberdeen.

“Traditionally, virtualization solutions could not support the number of CPUs and memory needed to run large, complex, transaction-oriented applications,” said Csaplar.

But recent releases of these products have increased their upper limits — now 32 CPUs and 1,000 GB of memory — so that hurdle has been cleared. Consequently, Aberdeen found that enterprises have already approved projects to move more applications to virtualized servers. In fact once the projects are completed, more than 70% of corporate applications will operate in this manner.

“Virtualization has been evolving, so it is becoming the foundation for every application in some enterprises,” said Csaplar.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer who specializes in cloud computing and data-center-related topics. He is based in Sudbury, Mass., and can be reached at