More fuel for the desktop virtualization fire

More fuel for the desktop virtualization fire

Summary: Time is money.  So says fellow ZDNet blogger George Ou who wrote:...

TOPICS: Virtualization

Time is money.  So says fellow ZDNet blogger George Ou who wrote: reader even compared my method of system recovery to hiding in the basement.  The problem with this attitude is that it's based on ignorance and misguided ego that wiping a hard drive is giving up when nothing could be further from the truth...every once in a while I'll get arrogant and attempt an OS repair and end up wasting half a day and be no better off than I started.....PC repair isn't about ego that "I can beat this thing by repairing the damage", it's about what takes the least time with the least pain that gets the best results and it's needs to be a simple calculation of ROI.

I agree with George Ou.  Not only is loading a new image is the best way to go, but keeping user data (documents, etc.) separate from the OS makes the most sense.   But, if time is truly money, then the ultimate goal should be to get end users to service themselves.  But how many can with the sort of re-imaging that Ou is talking about?  With virtualization, not only is re-imaging easier, it's faster and end-users get to keep their data on a separate partition.  In terms of keeping data separate from the OS, distinctly separate virtual machines within one physical computer can share an isolated data directory the same way your system and someone else's can share files on a network drive. 

Because virtual machines are based in plain old files (just like a Word or Excel document), the art of re-imaging requires the same skills that end users already have.  The ability to copy files from one directory to another.  That's it.  Select. Click. Drag.  The end user simply needs to know where a pristine image can be found (I keep one on my hard drive but it can be kept on a CD as well) and what directory to copy it to.  Do you have some users that can handle that?  OK.  Write a little DOS script and hide it behind a double-clickable icon.

Even better is the cost.   Not only can your IT people focus on other mission critical tasks, with a little planning,  you can get away with buying only one full-blown copy of VMware Workstation for creating images for your entire company.   Once images are created, all that's needed to actually run them is VMware's runtime, otherwise known as a "player."  These days, that's free.  In other words, on the machine that you're using to create your images, you have a $150 copy of VMware.   On the rest of your client systems, all you need to make those images work is the free runtime.  

150 smackeroos.  Are there additional costs?  Maybe. Depending on which host operating system you choose to run on the bare metal (Linux or Windows), some systems may not have the horsepower to run virtual machines at speeds that end-users are used to.  For most systems, a little extra memory should do the trick.  If the system is still too slow, then it might make sense to replace the system with something newer and more powerful.  But the pay back doesn't take long.   How many end-user initiated clicks could it really take?

Topic: Virtualization

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  • My non-techy friend does ghost

    My non-tech friend services himself with Ghost 2003 which is $10 OEM price. He has 2 HDs, and he keeps his data separate from the OS. If he runs in to problems, he reimages from the 2nd HD to the first, problem solved.

    VMware virtualization is too much overhead for now anyways.
    • Yup. I've done this for years with DriveImage.

      Works like a charm with Linux, OS/2, Windows, DOS, and I'm sure many other platforms.

      I gotta boot from a DOS diskette to do the recovery, but that isn't a big deal for me. :-) Some of my systems still have a DOS partition for this purpose, also. Makes life a little easier.
      • Or just use Knoppix

        dd if=/dev/hdb1 of=/dev/hda1

        If you want compression, gzip works. After all, a disk partition is just another file.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
    • That's a good point, however

      I can see your point, not all people will benefit from VMware or virtualization at this time. In my organization I can see this being a big benefit for techs, trainers, system admin, software testers just to name a few. I can see this as being a real big thing industry wide. Almost is big as sliced bread!

      For example, I can setup a training domain right in my house using VMware. I'm working on my MCSE, and will be working on other certifications and I will just need to use one server not two or three servers I would need without VMware.

      David brings out many good points that helped me clarify the application part of the technology in my mind. For example, anyone can just move or copy a file from one directory to another. For the most part a non-techy can?t do. You friend is the exception to the role in other wards. To ghost a standard computer today would be about 10-15 minutes as opposed to about 1-3 minutes copying an image file to the right directory and just launch the VMware instant you just replaced. The process is so fast it not funny.