Desktop Virtualization

 Desktop virtualization has gained prominence in the recent period with most organizations opting to adopt the technology. Desktop virtualization refers to a software technology in which the desktop environment is separated from the physical desktop or computer. In other words, there is the physical computer which depends on a segregated or virtualized desktop stored on a remote environment. Although the concept is new, there is not much difference to the traditional desktop environment. The major difference is that in desktop virtualization, input-output functions as well as other user commands are handled by a centralized server. This gives the administrator more control of the entire system. This paper will analyze desktop virtualization including the associated software and make a recommendation of the best virtualization software to use in the organization.

Compare and contrast top three brands of virtualization software available

            The leading brands of virtualization software available include VMware vSphere, Citric XenServer and Microsoft Windows Server. VMware is one of the leading virtualization software available. VMware’s dominance in the market is driven by its innovative products and strategic partnerships. There are five commercially available editions of the VMware product and one edition that has a free access. The free edition lacks certain features which are only available in commercial editions. Xen/Citric XenServer is another virtualization software that has been widely adopted in the market. Citric XenServer is a type-1 bare-metal hypervisor (Tosatto, 2012). This was the first virtualization software introduced in the market. This virtualization software is available in four commercial editions. The other virtualization software is Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. It was initially released with Windows Server 2012. This virtualization software features a free edition and four commercial editions (Carvalho, 2012).

The three virtualization software have different standard configuration limits. Standard configuration limits for Citric XenServer are determined by the virtual machine limits, resource pool limits, and the XenServer limits (Tosatto, 2012). The minimum number of Virtual CPUs per virtual machine required is 16. Each virtual machine must have a RAM of 128 GB. The operating system should have 64-bit capability, although some 32-bit systems can still be used with the addition of physical address extension. The virtual disk images per virtual machine is 16. The virtual disk size should be a minimum of 2 terabytes. Virtual Network Interface Controllers per virtual machine required are 72. The Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V comes with different aspects in terms of configuration, although some are similar to other virtualization software aspects. Installation of this requires a minimum of 1.4 GHz processor and a 64-bit system, which is the same as that required in Citric XenServer (Tosatto, 2012).

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According to Carvalho (2012), the RAM requirements for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is a minimum of 512 MB. This is low compared to that required in Citric XenServer. Nonetheless, actual installation requires 800 MB RAM. Once installation is complete, the user can revert to a lower RAM. The minimum disk space requirements during installation are 32 GB. The monitor must have a high resolution of about 1024 x 768. According to Deka & Das (2014), the standard configuration for VMware is a 64-bit architecture. The hardware system can support up to 64 physical CPU cores. It can also support 256 virtual CPUs, and a RAM of up to 1TB. Virtual machines can be configured with up to 255GB RAM. The VMware hardware requirement costs about $ 560, with an option of $ 666.60 for a three-year period. Server installation may cost around $ 6, 600. Citrix XenServer hardware requirements costs about $ 690 to $ 1,554 depending on the number of licenses. 2012 Hyper-V is the cheapest software, with pricing starting from $345 for one year license. Server installation costs about $6,155 for a typical data center.

Major pros and cons of each of the top three software packages available

            Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V has a number of benefits over other available software. To start with, the software is known to have a better secure multitenancy (Tomsho, 2014). This is the ability of a datacenter to offer a common infrastructure that can serve multiple users and still ensuring that each of the user’s data is secure and private. Windows Server 2012 has one of the most flexible infrastructure. It incorporates features that enable companies to add or move servers in their datacenters. In line with this, users can be able to move virtual machines without experiencing a downtime. The software incorporates density, scale and performance. The software incorporates hardware acceleration technologies and other innovations that lead to more scalability. Windows Server 2012 is considered more secure due to lack of application programming interfaces. On the flip side, Windows Server 2012 requires installation into the controlling region by use of an operating system (Tomsho, 2014). Thus a crush of the operating system would result to all virtual machines malfunctioning. Lastly, the operating system in the controlling segment must be applied using the latest release of security upgrades from Microsoft.

            Citric XenServer incorporates a number of benefits to other virtualization software. The software is known to have one the best free virtualization offering. The free virtualization edition includes critical features such as physical server to virtual machine conversions, live migration, centralized management, virtual-to-virtual conversions, infrastructure update management, VM template functionality, and driver storage integration (Crawford & Takemura, 2009). Citric XenServer is an entreprise ready software. The software attracts a large body of persons who wish to develop their personal virtualization solutions by use of the active open source. Another benefit is that XenServer integrates multiple virtual machines onto physical servers. It also provides users with easy integration with current networking infrastructures. On the flip side, Citrix XenServer has limited vendor support and application. This may be difficult on some users who lack experience with the software. Another drawback is that it has limited partner support compared to all others (Crawford & Takemura, 2009).

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            VMware software has a number of advantages. First, software users enjoy the broadest and most comprehensive vendor support (Schmidt, 2010). VMware software is supported by a wide variety of software systems and programs in the market. As such, users have a wide variety of options to choose from when developing virtualized environments. Another benefit is that vSphere has the most features compared to other software. VMware products are suitable not only to large firms but also to smaller organizations. VMware has high fault tolerance. This means that even if a host malfunctions, there is no need to reboot the virtual machine’s guest operating system. VMware is not without a number of drawbacks. First, the software is priced at a premium. Initial buyers spend a substantial amount of money to acquire and install the software. Second, VMware has limited hardware compatibility compared with other available software such as Microsoft virtualization software (Schmidt, 2010).

            In order to determine the most suitable virtualization software, it is necessary to identify or list the business needs and then to select the virtualization software that best addresses the needs. The business needs for the organization is a virtualization software that offers security of data and centralization. The best virtualization software is thus the Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. One of the outstanding features of this virtualization software is that it provides users with better centralization options. In addition to this, the software has a more secure multitenancy. This ensures that user data is kept secure and private, a critical requirement for the organization.

Major advantages and disadvantages that the organization may experience

            A major advantage the organization may experience while using virtualization software is the centralized control of employee’s computers (Pathan, 2014). As such, ICT administrators can be able to easily manage all of the employee’s computers. This is made possible by the fact that instead of each computer in the organization having a separate control, the administrators just create one or few virtual machine templates to handle all functions in the organization. For example, an organization having sales department and a call center function may install two virtual machines, one for each faction. The virtual machines are installed with all the required drivers, applications and the operating system that suits each department. This makes upgrades easy since an administrator does not need to load new applications on each user desktop, but only on the virtual machine.

            Virtualization software makes it easy to connect new computers to the system (Pathan, 2014). It is quite easy to connect new computers since there is no need to load custom drivers, applications, and the operating system. The ICT administrator just needs to push the virtual machine to the new computer. With this, the new computer is fully configured just like others. This makes expansion easier and can be time saving in environments such as institutions.

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            Another major advantage in using desktop virtualization software to an organization is that it enhances reliability and security of data. Use of desktop virtualization software can enable organizations to avoid most of the high-tech intrusions that impact organizations. Majority of these security breaches are attributed to user error. More than 80 percent of virus or malware attacks that occur in organizations are attributed to employee fault. This may either be intentional or unintentional. For instance, users having sensitive data on their laptop or computers are susceptible to security breach which may compromise the whole system. Desktop virtualization helps overcome these security risks. This is because data is stored securely on the organization’s servers where there are extensive security systems. The employee’s interface devices do not store data, significantly reducing the risk of a data breach, whether intentional or accidental.

            While the virtualization software having been in the market for a relative period, some of the challenges are yet to be solved. One of the major challenges to organizations is the risk of total business failure in case a server or virtual machine malfunctions (Pathan, 2014). Organizations using virtualization software rely on one or few virtual machines which serve the entire user computer hardware. If the virtual machine malfunctions, all of the users are affected. Another major drawback with virtualization software is that it requires a huge capital outlay compared to installing a basic computer for each user. Virtualization software requires huge investment in server hardware, storage (all computers are connected to one virtual machine hence the need for more storage), and network equipment. Lastly, bandwidth requirements has become a major challenge in virtualization. The issue of capability and limitation significantly affects performance. For instance, a virtual desktop environment is critically affected by graphics. High-end graphics may take up a lot of bandwidth, impacting the speed of the system (Pathan, 2014).

            From the above, virtualization will be the best fit for the organization. This is because it will solve most of the challenges the organization has been facing such as issues with security and control of computers. It will also be quite easy to upgrade the entire system or to install new computers.

Microsoft word table

Advantages, disadvantages, computer requirements, initial costs and future savings
Advantages 1.      Centralized control of user computers.

2.      It is easy to connect new computers to the system.

3.      It enhances reliability and security of data.

Disadvantages 1.      Risk of total business failure in the organization in case a virtual machine malfunctions.

2.      Desktop virtualization requires a huge capital outlay in server hardware, storage and network equipment.

3.      High bandwidth requirements especially in organizations using high-end graphics.

Computer requirements PC Hardware

1.      The user computers should support a 64-bit architecture.

2.      500 MHz

Memory

1.      The recommended is 256 MB

2.      Minimum is 128 MB

Display

1.      16-bit and 32-bit display adapters

Hard Disk

1.      1 GB free disk space

2.      For installation, 150MB on windows systems and 80 MB on Linux systems.

3.      CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drives supported.

4.      SCSI and IDE optical drives capability.

Initial costs Server – $ 7,000

Virtualization software $1000

Operating system $5000

Network connectivity $500

Server maintenance $1000

Future savings $3000 per month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In conclusion, virtualization software have become a common asset in modern day organizations. The top virtualization software available include Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Citric XenServer, and VMware. The main reasons why virtualization has become common in organizations is that it enhances security of data and ensures centralization of operations. Although the technology had some limitations, most have been overcome with time. I therefore request the CTO and the entire management to consider adapting this disruptive technology.

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References

Carvalho, L. (2012). Windows server 2012 Hyper-V cookbook. Birmingham: Packt Pub.

Crawford, L., & Takemura, C. (2009). The book of Xen. San Francisco, Calif: No Starch.

Deka, G. C., & Das, P. K. (January 01, 2014). An Overview on the Virtualization Technology.

Pathan, K. (2014). The State of the Art in Intrusion Prevention and Detection. New York, NY:     CRC Press.

Schmidt, R. (2010). VCP VMwarre Certified Professional vSphere 4 Study Guide. New York,     NY, McGraw Hilll.

Tomsho, G. (2014). MSCA Guide to Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012/R2,          Exam 70-410. Cengage Learning.

Tosatto, D. (2012). Citrix XenServer 6.0 Administration Essential Guide. Birmingham: Packt       Publishing.

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 Desktop virtualization  paper
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