25 Apr

The Benefits Of A Virtualized Office Infrastructure

If you’ve been considering ways to improve and simplify the management of your on-premises office systems, or if you are looking to reduce overall IT costs, a virtualized office should certainly be on your short list of considerations. This article will briefly describe what a virtualized office is, how office functions are typically moved to virtualization, and what benefits are accrued as a result.

What Is A Virtualized Office?

Simply put, office virtualization replaces your physical servers, storage devices, and phone system with logical equivalents that exist on a distributed “cloud-based” infrastructure. While you could build and maintain this infrastructure yourself, is it usually less expensive overall (and usually more reliable as well) to rent it from a third-party provider for a monthly fee. You get all the functions and features you would expect, plus more, without the headaches of supporting and maintaining the physical assets that would provide those services in a conventional setting. You’ll still have desktop phones if you want them, and you’ll still use PCs, laptop or mobile devices, but all the software, services and communications will exist “in the cloud.”

What Steps Are Required To Transition To A Virtualized Office?

To move from an architecture of on-premises servers, storage, communications and related functions, to one that is fully virtualized, requires several steps. Actual execution of the transition should be planned and timed to minimize interruption of availability to users. The third-party services provider will typically work with you to determine the best way to implement your plan. Here is a list of the major steps required to complete the transition to a virtualized office, in no particular order:

  • Applications and services are moved from desktops and localized physical servers, to cloud-based servers called Virtual Private Servers (VPS), which support those services, as well as user access to them (see below). Email servers and clients, productivity apps, accounting systems, databases and any other services or apps used by the office are moved out of the office building and into the cloud.
  • Workstations, laptops and other relevant mobile devices are converted from localized desktops to virtualized desktops. This is commonly referred to as a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). In essence, the devices become simple terminals for remotely accessing the user’s desktop workspace, applications and services, all of which are 100% hosted in the cloud.
  • The office phone system is moved into the cloud. A special type of server called a Virtual PBX (vPBX) provides all of the typical PBX functions, plus many more that take advantage of Internet technology. Voice-over-Internet-Protocol services allow virtual “Internet phone lines” to connect to the vPBX. Users make and take calls using VoIP phones, which look and function much like traditional office phones, or via VoIP apps that can run on virtually any device. All communication and calls to/from your office and your vPBX occur over the Internet via your existing Internet connection. Telco phone lines are no longer required.
  • Secure networking is established between the office and the cloud, for connectivity to/from all virtualized services.
  • Backup is integrated on the cloud side, to ensure data integrity and the ability to recover from any loss. Optionally, sync/backup of cloud storage to a localized office server and/or a third-party location can be added to the mix.

What Are The Benefits Of A Virtualized Office Infrastructure?

Other than requiring some minimal retraining of users, the effects of converting an office to virtualization overwhelmingly line up in the ‘benefits’ column:

  • Users can access their systems and apps from anywhere, anytime… or not, according to your wishes. High availability, and granular centralized access management, lends complete control over who uses resources, when and from where.
  • IT management is greatly simplified: desktops, laptops and mobile devices function like terminals into your virtualized office, rather than being the office. Workflow, methods and procedures are more easily made uniform.
  • Robust yet simplified security: it becomes much easier to manage security in a centralized way, and enforce policies for authentication, access, onboarding and offboarding of users, etc. Centralized data storage enhances information control, and prevents leakage.
  • Resiliency: comprehensive backup and DR solutions are typically integrated into the core of the service. Optional syncing to a localized volume allows localized data access, even during an Internet service interruption. Recovery times from failure events are typically very fast in virtualized environments.
  • Reduce or eliminate paper and manual processes, taking advantage of productivity groupware and communications that are a part of cloud offerings.
  • Virtualized offices scale easily and quickly.
  • Overall costs and headaches are often greatly reduced. Space, power and cooling usage in office is reduced, direct IT costs and time expenditures go down, and hardware life cycles are extended.

It’s no coincidence that businesses are embracing the virtualized office model in record numbers – it’s the way forward, and increasingly it’s the only way to remain sufficiently agile and competitive in the modern economy. Datacate provides the resources to successfully migrate to a virtual office, and unlike many of our competitors, we own and operate the underlying infrastructure. We can guide your office virtualization project from the first steps, through implementation, to continued support as your needs grow and change. Please contact us today for more information. We are your full service technology partner.