Virtualization: 10 Popular Terms

Virtualization is the act of moving a physical component or bit of software from a physical environment to a digital one that is normally delivered over a network. This concept has become one of the most sought after tech improvements of the past decade, especially among small to medium businesses. The only problem is that virtualization is complex and carries with it some confusing terminology. To make things easier, we have created a glossary of ten common virtualization terms.

1. Virtual Machine (VM)

You will often hear virtualization experts bandy about the term VM. What they are talking about when they say this is the Virtual Machine. The VM is essentially a virtual representation of the computer on your desk. It can do everything a physical machine does; only everything is virtual and usually delivered over a network connection.

Because VMs are software based, you can often run more than one VM on the same physical machine. This could equate to having say two separate versions of Windows running at the same time, or even running a different operating system, say Windows on your MacBook.

2. Virtual server

A virtual server is a specific type of VM (in this case a server) that is running in a virtual environment. A common setup many offices employ is to have one physical server on premise. This server then hosts separate virtual servers that in turn host different services like email, networking, storage, etc.

Other businesses choose to rely completely on virtual servers. This is where another company hosts the servers, which are delivered to you over the Internet. To the computers and users, it appears the servers are there on your network and can be interacted with normally, when in truth, the servers are actually virtual.

3. Virtual desktop

Much like the virtual server, the virtual desktop is a specific type of VM. In this case, it is a virtually delivered version of an operating system like Windows, Linux or even OS X.

Since the advent of virtual desktops, the idea that companies have to stick with one type of operating system has started to become irrelevant. For example, if you own a Mac and need to access a Windows only program, one solution is to use a virtual version of Windows. If you have access to one, you will be able to run Windows from your Mac without having to physically install it on your computer.

4. Hypervisor

The hypervisor is essentially a small operating system that enables virtualization. Its job is to take physical hardware resources and combine them into a platform that is then delivered virtually to one or many different users.

5. Host system

The host system, also referred to as the parent, is where the physical hardware and software is installed. These physical components are then copied by the hypervisor and delivered in a virtual state to the user. If you are creating a virtual desktop environment, then the host system will have the desktop’s OS installed on it, along with the necessary software.

6. Guest system

The guest system, also referred to as the child, is where the VM is accessed. To carry the example on from above, the OS that is installed on the host machine is replicated by the hypervisor and the copy is then delivered to the user.

The user can interact with the OS just as they would with the physical host machine, because the guest system is an exact copy of the host. The only difference is that the guest machine is virtual instead of physical.

7. Virtual Infrastructure

When you combine a bunch of different types of VMs together into one solution, including hardware, storage, desktops, and servers, you create a virtual infrastructure.

This can then be deployed to businesses who are looking for a completely virtualized solution. The easiest way to think of this is that your whole IT infrastructure is combined into one solution and virtualized. Many companies look for a solution like this because it reduces the need for on-premise hardware, while making it easier for an IT partner to manage.

8. P2V

P2V, or Physical to Virtual, is a term used by IT experts to refer to the act of migrating a physical system to a virtual one. The most common example of P2V is the merging of physical servers into a virtual environment that is hosted on one server.

9. Snapshot

A snapshot is an image of the state of the virtual machine at a specific point of time. This includes all of the data, configurations, and even windows or programs open at that time. Snapshots are used kind of like the Save button on video games – it saves your progress. When you next load up the VM, you will get all of your data, programs, and configurations back.

Snapshots are also kept in case something goes wrong with the VM. You can easily revert back to an older snapshot, one that was taken before the problem.

10. Clone

The action of taking one VM and creating an exact copy that can then be used by another computer or user.

If you are looking to learn more about virtualization, contact us today to see how we can help!

WAMS Team Member Spotlight: Joe Pena

Our own Joe Pena, WAMS Senior Systems Analyst,was recently featured in the motocross magazine of Transworld! Joe’s a veteran motocross racer and has been competing and riding for years. We’re proud of our WAMS team member and his fun feature in the national magazine!

Joe Pena II TransWorld MX Mag-3 (2)

Windows 8/8.1 Hibernation 101

How did we ever manage without hibernation in the past? The feature was first introduced with Windows XP and is one of the operating system’s (OS) most useful power functions. However, with Windows 8 this feature is not readily visible, so you need to find out not just what this feature is about but also how you can enable it on Windows 8.

What is Hibernation mode?

Hibernation allows you to power down your computer while retaining its current operating state e.g., leaving programs open. In other words, with hibernation, your computer saves the contents of its Random Access Memory (RAM) to your hard disk or other non-volatile storage so that when you want to resume your work, you can start where you last left off. Available on every Windows OS, hibernation can usually be set in your power settings manually or even automatically so that it activates when your laptop’s battery is low.

How to enable hibernation on your laptop or computer running Windows 8:

  1. In your system tray, click the battery icon and select More power options from the panel that pops up.
  2. In the Power Options window, select either Choose what closing lid does or Choose what the power button does from the left panel.
  3. In the power options window, click on the blue text that says Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  4. At the bottom of the window, a new set of options will become available. Check the box next to Hibernate and click Save changes. Voila, the hibernate feature will now show up in the power options window that is displayed when you press the power button on your computer or laptop.

This feature allows you to resume work from where you left off within seconds since you don’t have to boot up your computer nor re-open programs you were using. Not only that, but hibernation saves more battery power than sleep mode and uses no power while hibernated, a feature most laptops can really benefit from.

Hibernation is also useful if hardware maintenance has to be performed, which requires powering down the hardware. For servers which need to be started up as quickly as possible after maintenance, hibernating and getting going again can be much quicker than shutting down and restarting the server applications.

Despite the benefits of hibernation, it is important to note that your computer does need to be shut down every once in a while to avoid performance degradation. Moreover, you should avoid hibernating your computer when you know you won’t be using it for a long period of time.

Hibernation mode can help boost productivity, decrease boot-up time, as well as help save your computer’s battery time. Interested in learning more about Windows 8/8.1 and its features? Contact us today for a chat.

WAMS Announces Summer School 2014 Sessions!

The weather’s heating up, the beaches are getting crowded, that familiar itch to take a vacation keeps creeping up, so what does that mean?? It’s time for WAMS Summer School again!

Join WAMS for four weeks jammed packed with educational webinars on various technology topics designed to give you the basic and most important knowledge you need from an IT perspective to successfully do your job.

These four webinars will present critical technology information in an easy-to-understand and fun manner. Plus, you don’t even have to leave your desk to attend the webinars, and they’re FREE!

Attend all or just one, but if you attend all four webinars, you’ll automatically be entered to win a $250 travel voucher to scratch that vacation itch!!!

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Session 1: The “Internet of Things” – How Interconnectivity & Universal Wireless Internet Will Drastically Transform the Way We Work and Live

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a fascinating evolution of technology and the Internet, as connections move beyond computing devices, and objects are capable of interacting with other objects – and it’s closer to reality than many people think!

In our houses, cars, offices, and factories, we’re surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live, how we work, and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another, and soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, improve business functions, even save our lives. From heart monitors to cars, this new “programmable world” will transform the way we live, work, play, and even breathe.

 When: Thursday, July 24 at 11:00 AM

 Register: www.wamsinc.com/session1

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Session 2: What You Should Pay for IT Support

One of the most popular questions we get all the time is, “how much should I be spending on IT every month?” That’s why we’ve decided to add this incredibly valuable session to our Summer School webinars this year to explain the following:

  • The 3 most common ways IT services companies charge for their services, and the pros and cons of each approach.
  • A common billing model that puts all the risk on you when buying IT services; you’ll learn what it is and why you need to avoid agreeing to it.
  • Exclusions, hidden fees and other “gotcha” clauses IT companies put in their contracts that you DON’T want to agree to.
  • How to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting to avoid disappointment, frustration and added costs later on that you didn’t anticipate.
  • 21 revealing questions to ask your IT support firm BEFORE giving them access to your computer network, e-mail and data.

When: Wednesday, July 30 at 11:00 AM

Register: www.wamsinc.com/session2

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Session 3: The Top Security Threats to Firms & How to Avoid Them

With the recent Heartbleed and Cryptolocker scares this year, we couldn’t do a Summer School series without including security as one of the must-have topics. People oftentimes underestimate the true severity of these threats and think that “it won’t happen to me.”

You couldn’t be farther from the truth! In this webinar, we’ll be covering some of the top security threats we see today for firms, and more importantly, how to protect yourself from them! You can’t afford to miss this one!

When: Wednesday, August 6 at 11:00 AM

Register: www.wamsinc.com/session3

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Session 4: From the Trenches – Live Interviews with People Using Cloud Today in their Office

For the first time ever, we’ve gathered together a group of people who are using cloud TODAY in their office and are putting them on this live webinar for you to learn firsthand from them…

  • The details of exactly how they use Cloud Computing
  • The challenges they faced in deciding to go to the Cloud and the benefits they see today
  • How they navigated the waters to find a Cloud solution that worked for them
  • Their firsthand advice and tips for you if you’re considering Cloud Computing

Join us live to hear interviews with these Cloud users and get the chance to ask them your own questions!

When: Thursday, August 14 at 11:00 AM

Register: www.wamsinc.com/session4

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 QUESTIONS?? Email Allison at akirk@wamsinc.com 

Southern CA Manufacturing Company Reaps Multiple Benefits Of Moving To The Cloud

Aqueous Technologies employees can securely work anywhere and on any device now that their IT network is hosted on WAMS Cloud Connect platform.

Aqueous Technologies’ staff frequently travels around the globe and needed an IT solution that would deliver their IT network no matter where they were. The company was also in dire need of an upgrade to their systems since many of their servers were nearing the end of their warranty.

Their mission:

To be able to work anywhere and on any device via a secure, reliable and quick remote access solution.

Our mission:

To seamlessly move them to WAMS Cloud Connect and enable the staff to be productive no matter where they were.

“The onboarding experience to the Cloud Connect platform was effortless on our end. We were a little skeptical about making the transition to the Cloud, and quite honestly expected to have some downtime. To our surprise, the switch was painless, and the engineers at WAMS did a great job of helping all of my staff get accustomed to the Cloud.”  – Mike Konrad, President/CEO

Because of the nature of the work that the company does, they required a remote access solution that was fast, reliable, secure, and always available, even during power and/or internet outage. They previously had an onsite network with a terminal server for remote capabilities, which was functioning, but they knew there were better options.

Compounded on top of that was their immediate need of an upgrade as their servers were reaching the end of their warranty. They looked into Cloud Computing as an alternative to an on-site network refresh because of the reduced capital expense of not having to buy, build, and maintain new servers.

After the company tested the Cloud Connect system before they purchased, they realized how much more efficient they could be by working from anywhere, on virtually any device and made the decision to move to the Cloud with WAMS. It was a seamless transition that immediately provided the staff with the benefit of being able to work anywhere.

“WAMS has enabled us to provide better and faster support to our clients no matter where we are in the world,” said Konrad.

Aqueous Technologies now has a faster and more stable computing solution that they can access from anywhere on any device that actually reduced capital expenditures on servers and ongoing maintenance costs.

“Their Cloud solution is rock solid and just plain works!”

Did Your Firm Get Left In The Dark?

You may not have heard about it (perhaps by design), but a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft Office 365 had a partial outage that left some of its clients and partners without access to files, Lync communication, and email for nearly 9 hours! Not having access to files and communication for 9 hours is like locking the doors to your office and taking down the sign. Clients think you’ve disappeared!

In a world where we rely more and more on the Cloud to run our business, hearing about these types of outages is quite scary. Even a giant company like Microsoft is susceptible downtime. What are your options?

The reality is that in IT, there is no such thing as 100% uptime, but you should be able to get pretty darn close. Most firms we work with that have onsite Exchange (email) servers rarely have any unexpected outages, and definitely not 9 hours worth at once!

So why did it happen to Microsoft?

One reason may be complexity. Office 365 is a “multi-tenant” Cloud service, which means it is a shared environment in which multiple clients access shared servers to view and store files, emails, etc. Although there are securities in place from a networking perspective to ensure XYZ Company cannot see ABC Company’s emails, they still share the same server infrastructure and battle for performance. If there happens to be issues with a server, or group of servers, it can affect many different clients. As you can imagine, the complexity that Microsoft must deal with is a little more involved than you might have in your own business network serving 50 users, instead Microsoft must serve 1000’s of clients.

This does not mean that Cloud technology or Microsoft Office 365 is bad or unstable. You just need to be aware of the potential issues and do your homework on the different Cloud services available to you.

If your building suffers from power outages, faulty server equipment, or outdated software, Cloud may be a great option for your firm. What you must remember is that there is always a direct correlation between the uptime of your network, control of your data, and price.

If you want to leverage the Cloud in the most economical way, services like Office 365 and Google apps are the answer. If you want more control over your data, uptime, and problem resolution, you may want to look at private Cloud solution for your firm. Private Clouds like WAMS Cloud Connect offer your firm a segregated hosted platform that dedicates servers just for your firm. These types of solutions offer the great benefits that Cloud Computing has to offer, yet still keep you in control of your servers and data.

To summarize, don’t let outages like Microsoft’s deter you away from Cloud-based services for your firm. Instead, take it as a reminder to dig deeper and fully understand the different solutions available and pick the one that is most aligned with your firm’s requirements for control and uptime.