Save Money by Using Virtualization

In 2008, there was a lot of talk around communications devices, but in many corporations one of the hottest IT topics was a technology called “virtualization”. So I’ll start the new year by explaining what virtualization is and why you might be interested in it.

Simply put, virtualization is a way of making a single computer do the work of many. As organizations buy more and more powerful hardware, they often find themselves with too much equipment and with capacity than is not being used.

With virtualization technology, these organizations can partition pieces of a single computer and use it for multiple purposes, efficiently using its capacity.

Without virtualization, companies often use multiple pieces of hardware, called servers, each one running a particular piece of software, confusingly also called a server. So the software servers, such as Windows Server (used for sharing files and running applications), SQL Server (used for corporate databases), Exchange Server (used for email), Internet Information Server (used for hosting websites), etc., each run on their own computer.

If each computer is only partially utilized, there can be tremendous waste in the cost of equipment, electricity, floor space, air conditioning, etc.

With virtualization, any number of software servers can run on a single computer, optimizing the use of hardware. In fact, even desktop operating systems like Windows XP, Vista, or Linux can be run in a virtual environment, and so can individual program applications. How they are configured is controlled by utilities that you use to allocate available hardware to your needs. These utilities allow you to set up “virtual machines”, whereby you allocate pieces of the computer’s central processing unit, memory, hard drive, and other resources, to each virtual machine.

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Holiday Mixture – Remix

Last year for the holidays I rallied the troops at my office to see if we could come up with tips and trick that you can use every day when using technology and we came up with quite a number of suggestions.

Once again our staff gave generously and here is this year’s list for you to unwrap:

  1. Always be skeptical of an email’s origin, regardless of whether or not it’s from a known sender. In particular, do not open attachments that end in .ZIP or .EXE unless you are sure of what these files are and from whom they came.
  2. If you inadvertently delete a file, chances are you’ll be able to find it in the Recycle Bin.
  3. Speed up your computer by “defragmentation”.  You can find this by double-clicking “My Computer” and then right-clicking on the disk drive, opening the “Tools” tab, and choosing “Properties”.
  4. Make sure your laptop data is backed up in case you damage or lose it. You’d be surprised at the tales of woe I hear all the time. One thing to consider is a small business server, where several people’s files are centralized and backed up. You can synchronize your laptop with the server which means any changes you make on the laptop will be done on the server. This may be cheaper and easier than you think.
  5. When creating PowerPoint presentations, remember “Lucky number 7”. Put no more than seven words per bullet, and seven bullets per slide.
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Electronic Voting Project: A Lesson In Business Processes

After the recent municipal election I met with Dean Smith, President of Intelivote Systems Inc. of Dartmouth, the company behind the online voting engine.  I was looking for some good lessons that I could relate to business situations, such as insights on data security and system integrity, but I quickly came to realize this story is more about  business processes and procedures than about technology.

Smith and his team spent a year setting up the election using their configurable system, making custom changes to handle unique situations, running proofs of concepts, testing over and over again, and even suggesting legislation changes to permit online voting.

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LinkedIn – a “Facebook for Business”

In a recent article on Social Media, I discussed the power of online personal connections and mentioned the phenomenon that is Facebook. There is another social media tool which is similar to Facebook but is more intended for business contacts. It is called LinkedIn.

This service allows you to create a profile much like you would on Facebook, and to make connections with other people who you can then keep informed of business activities. Note that these are called “connections”, not “friends”.

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Product Review – Three Smartphones and a High Speed Network

I recently dropped three new smartphones on the desktops of our technical support representatives at Nicom IT Solutions, and they immediately went to town with them. The devices, compliments of Andrew Sherbin of Rogers Communications, are the Nokia N95, the Blackberry Bold, and the Apple iPhone. All three were configured to work with Rogers’ 3G high speed wireless network that was launched this spring in Halifax and Moncton.

Nokia

The N95 is geared for multimedia. It comes with built-in stereo speakers, wires to hook it up to your home entertainment system, and a whopping 5 megapixel camera. It has a slide-out tray that contains multimedia controls on one side and a keyboard on the other. The keyboard is of the type where one key can stand for multiple letters.

The N95 even comes with a tiny clip-on remote control with the same multimedia controls as on the tray, connected via a wire to the main unit.

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