How virtualization can improve your IT security, capability and budget Featured

9:01pm EDT October 31, 2011
How virtualization can improve your IT security, capability and budget

If your company’s computers are still using the last generation of network technology, it might be time to consider an upgrade — especially if you are planning to virtualize any of your processes or data.

“The previous standard for most companies has been traditional T1 lines, which were not cost effective and had limited bandwidth,” says Carlos F. Olortegui, manager of the Enterprise Metro Ethernet Division with Comcast Business Services. “Metro Ethernet technology is more cost effective, reliable, robust and scalable, and it allows you to adjust bandwidth measurements with ease.”

Smart Business spoke with Olortegui about how this technology could benefit businesses and what kind of return companies should expect on their investment.

Why is Metro E technology important and how can it impact a business?

Today, everyone from small, medium to enterprise-level and multi-national corporations can use Metro E technology to improve their telecommunications.

For instance, a franchise using point of sale (POS) transactions and replicating that data could use the Metro E technology to have the option to measure and adjust its bandwidth as necessary.

One major benefit of Metro E is that the connectivity from the customer to the service provider is simplified. It’s just router to router. The main focus of Metro E is the Ethernet connectivity. It’s called Metro E because you are literally plugging in an Ethernet connection. The handoff from service provider to the customer is just an Ethernet plug — pure simplicity.

In the past, companies needed a lot of capital expenses and operating expenses for databases, hardware, larger UNIX servers, even your exchange servers for e-mail. Today, everyone uses e-mail, so the need for archiving and data warehousing is huge.

What is virtualization and how can it benefit businesses?

Virtualization is the process of contracting an amount of space on a large server that is housed by a provider and storing your data there. If you virtualize, you do not have to purchase all the computer hardware and manpower to handle your data and processes. You don’t have the large operating expense and headcount necessary to maintain the high-cost hardware and ensure uptime.

There are two scenarios in which companies can benefit from virtualization. First is disaster recovery. Second is by making a virtual version of your databases or e-mail, which are utilized on a daily basis  — you have the ease of connectivity for the transport of all that information to a virtualization footprint via Metro Ethernet.

Here is where your ROI comes into play. You get a bigger bang for your business dollar and the products and services you sell, other than payroll and real estate, the IT budget is the largest budget for most enterprise customers. If you can drop those operating and capital expenses, your ROI and profitability increase.

How can Metro E technology improve the virtualization process?

You need connectivity to that virtualization footprint .That’s where Metro E comes into play, because of its service ability, and the ability to have bandwidth on demand. Companies can consult 30-, 60-, or 90-day bandwidth utilization reports. If you need more bandwidth, it’s just a turn of the dial.

Virtualization provides much more bandwidth than traditional T1 lines can. If you are virtualizing your back-office environment, it is critical that you have no downtime as these applications are considered ‘high availability.’ That is another advantage of Metro E — it is very stable.

How does the ability to adjust bandwidth impact businesses?

Let’s say you are a corporate entity that owns a chain of retail stores. You have peak seasons: different times of the year where you have huge mail distributions or promotions. Your business is very seasonal, so November and December are the peak sales months. There are a lot of promotions, and your website gets hit more at those times. With Metro E, you can adjust your bandwidth to be higher during those peak times, because you want to make sure people can access the website and that all their transactions are being replicated and archived correctly, hence making the customer experience a positive one.

When there is greater demand, the company simply notifies its provider, which increases the bandwidth. They can watch bandwidth utilization reports to see trends, so they can monitor their expenses. Business owners can see that they’re utilizing X amount at a certain time of the year and budget accordingly.

It also ties into virtualization, because one of the main components of virtualization is on-demand storage.

What kind of cost reduction or ROI can businesses expect from using this technology?

First, businesses can expect lower capital expenses from not having to purchase all that computer hardware or enterprise server hardware for their back office databases and e-mail. Second, less manpower is needed because you have that virtual environment, so you have the reduction of overhead payroll. Third is the stability of Ethernet technology. You don’t have to utilize T1 lines or ‘leased-lines,’ those clear-channel point-to-point lines, which are very high in cost because you have to have a certain type of hardware that resides at the customer’s site. With Metro E, you have a simplified device on the back end of the service provider, which is lower cost equipment because it is plug-and-play Ethernet. Together, those three components can reduce expenses 20 to 40 percent.

Carlos F. Olortegui is manager of the Enterprise Metro Ethernet Division with Comcast Business Services. Reach him at (305) 770-5941 or carlos_olortegui@cable.comcast.com.