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Robin Birtstone

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Three flavours of client-side virtualisation

Talk about virtualisation often centres on virtually hosted desktops, in which the entire desktop is run on a back-end server. But this is by no means the only way to operate. Amid all the other options, such as application virtualisation and offloading computational tasks onto rich clients, there is one model that is …
Robin Birtstone, 23 Jun 2011
SGI logo hardware close-up

Give VDI the personal touch

Virtualising servers may be beset by technical challenges but rarely by political ones. When virtualising the desktop, however, things get far stickier. All the users suddenly becomes PC huggers unwilling to let go of their own little corner of the enterprise architecture. Amid the worries – that they will lose desktop …
Robin Birtstone, 16 Jun 2011

How to cut management overheads with VDI

On the face of it, a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) should make desktop operating systems easier to manage. After all, if an organisation’s desktops are all on one server, then they should theoretically be easier to reach and manipulate. But can desktop virtualisation really help to relieve the management burden? Hardware …
Robin Birtstone, 19 Apr 2011

Five desktop virtualisation tips for IT project managers

There’s a good reason why the word ‘strategic’ should drive fear into the heart of the most hardened project manager. Strategic decisions are generally wide-reaching, and therefore involve multiple stakeholders (which, incidentally, is another word in corporate bureaucracy’s dark lexicon). The more stakeholders there are, the …
Robin Birtstone, 18 Apr 2011
server room

Stitch in time saves 900 support calls

Centralising the desktop has upsides and downsides for support staff. The upside is that, done correctly, the IT department gets more control over the desktop, enabling them both to prevent potential problems before they happen, and also to analyse any anomalies more easily from a central point. "In days gone by, if a trader in …
Robin Birtstone, 15 Apr 2011
cable

Framework flotilla tackles VDI

The desktop has traditionally been an under-managed area of IT. Many businesses, especially smaller ones, may not have the expertise or the resource to manage physical desktops as well as they could. As desktop virtualisation becomes more popular, IT departments face an increased management overhead. Suddenly, hundreds or …
Robin Birtstone, 13 Apr 2011

On VDI and storage architectures

One of the most complex aspects of desktop virtualisation is working out what to do with all the users' data. Sizing and planning storage infrastructures to support hundreds or thousands of remotely-hosted desktops is a daunting prospect, especially to those who have relied heavily on local PC hard drives in the past. What is …
Robin Birtstone, 13 Apr 2011
Cat 5 cable

My desktop is always there for me

Desktop virtualisation can be an asset to an organisation, but what happens when something goes wrong? In a conventional non-virtualised desktop system, users with a downed network or crippled server could perhaps still work on something locally. But when that same downtime means that your whole desktop vanishes, high …
Robin Birtstone, 07 Apr 2011

Desktop virt roll-outs: Upfront pain for long-term gain

How can IT departments build a business case for desktop virtualisation? Look at the numbers, says Robin Birtstone - but make sure you see all of them. Ultimately, companies are unlikely to fund a desktop virtualisation project until the numbers look good. How can you build a good return on investment case for virtualising your …
Robin Birtstone, 05 Apr 2011
SGI logo hardware close-up

Making desktop virt an easier pill to swallow

How can IT managers sell the benefits of desktop virtualisation to the rest of the company, especially if it may not deliver savings in the short term? Part of the trick in selling desktop virtualisation to the broader organisation is to remember the word “business” in “business case”. Talking the business’s language and mapping …
Robin Birtstone, 04 Apr 2011

Sizing a server to support desktop virtualisation

Virtualising the desktop can bring benefits at the endpoint. It makes desktops more manageable, can reduce power load throughout the building, and can make systems more secure. But IT departments shouldn't underestimate the additional investments required at the back end. Running more endpoint logic centrally can have huge …
Robin Birtstone, 25 Mar 2011

Securing the virtual desktop

Securing the endpoint has always been a headache for IT administrators. The less managed those endpoints are, the worse the headache is. In a virtualised desktop environment, where those operating systems and applications are more managed, does the problem go away? Ostensibly, security is less of a problem in a virtual desktop …
Robin Birtstone, 24 Mar 2011
server room

Choosing a client for desktop virtualisation

Many organisations will assume that a virtualised desktop is best delivered on a thin client device. However there’s a good case for reusing existing PCs, and not all thin clients are created equal. How should you determine the best client device for your desktop virtualisation solution? There are three main styles of client …
Robin Birtstone, 18 Mar 2011
Broken CD with wrench

A cacophony of clients

There was a time when technology was only sexy for a narrow subset of people. These were the folks, like me, who spent their weekends programming sprites in 68000 assembly language. Then, consumerisation happened, and the world was never the same again. Suddenly, everyone was a geek, and the IT department was in serious trouble …
Robin Birtstone, 17 Mar 2011

The stick, the carrot and the desktop virt project

The world would be a better place if it weren’t for all the users. Even the best laid technological plans can go awry when computer-hugging individuals decide that they don’t want to abandon their conventional systems or ways of working. Nowhere is this more true than in the nascent world of desktop virtualisation. Many users …
Robin Birtstone, 15 Mar 2011