Practice what you preach

I think it is very important when selling a product that the business itself uses whatever it might be. This definitely helps to iron out those annoying issues that a customer may see but also helps to understand the product better. It is something we have always taken very seriously at Fluidata and with our imminent office move thought it would be time to take it to the next level.

At the moment there is a lot of talk about cloud computing, but bringing that story to fruition is taking time, and somewhat frustrating with the conflicting views and different ways of cracking the proverbial nut. For some years we have been successfully delivering Layer-2 private wide area networks to our customers using our PWAN technology, but now we have gone a step further to demonstrate what can be done with it.

I am writing this article at my desk in the office but this actual machine is virtual (ie not installed on my local PC), residing in one of our datacentres. And that is not all – so is everything that my virtual PC talks to such as Exchange, SQL and our intranet. What used to all reside in our office has now made the transition to the datacentre delivering a large number of benefits without the headache you might imagine.

By using the PWAN technology, moving the firewall into the cloud was the first step so that our offices (just opened another outside of London) could communicate on private IP to the datacentres without a VPN (Layer 2). This then meant that office servers could be moved and accessed from the datacentre. IP addressing, Active Directory, DNS etc all now reside in the datacentre and serve our local networks through the PWAN. We then went through the process of virtualising the desktops to VMware’s excellent ESX product so that each desktop is still independent to the other and accessed via the Remote Desktop application.

This leaves us with the latest Windows 7 software on our existing PCs with the flexibility to hot desk to any PC in either of our offices, or anywhere in the world via a VPN to the PWAN. And because the majority of traffic is only mouse clicks, keyboard strokes and screen refreshes, our usage of the network has actually dropped.

We will continue to adapt the virtual network but with the flexibility of our new hosted environment there is an infinite amount of customisation possible. I am sure more businesses will follow our lead when they realise how easily it can be implemented.

1 Comment

  • Chris Baron says:

    Cloud computing is great if you’re a small organisation and only need “standard” security. If you’re a medium size organisation and need higher security it’s not quite there yet.

    ESX is a fabulous product and we use it for all our servers. It’s a solid product, has great features like load balancing and high availability and with everything being virtual it’s great for DR. I’d have no hesitation in recommending it to anybody for a virtual server infrastructure.

    Sadly, however it’s not cheap, so if you’re a medium size organisation (were 200+) you need a lot of ESX servers and that gets very expensive. It would cost me a lot more to go virtual than to give everybody a decent desktop.

    Secondly, if you need to be secure and use token login (we use aladdin tokens) it’s just not there yet. The virtual environment just isn’t as secure as a physical world for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps the governments own initiatives like g-cloud will help to drive solutions to market, but if it doesn’t then such initiatives risk failing to comply with their own SPF mandated security requirements.

    I’m sure in time the problems will be solved, and I can’t wait for that day. Unless costs drop significantly I wouldn’t virtualise all desktops, but having a proportion virtualised would solve so many issues it would be worth the extra investment. Sadly, until that day arrives I need to keep investing my team’s time looking at emerging options which are usually cost prohibitive and suffer from the same security problems.

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