I recently had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Bakerman, Director of Information Technology, Owen Bird Law Corporation, a Virtual Iron customer. He spent a few moments sharing his experiences with their software. Stephen's comments follow.
Please tell me who you are and what your organization does?
Owen Bird Law Corporation is a top level Vancouver law firm with leading professionals in a wide range of commercial and civil litigation practice areas. Owen Bird is British Columbia's only member of Interlaw, a National and International network of distinguished law firms.
What are you doing that needed this technology?
The company has between 15 and 17 servers. They are using 40 different applications ranging from commercial off the shelf applications to custom applications. Their organizational structure is different than many other legal firms. Each of the partners has the ability to do business in ways that make the most sense in their area of specialty. This means that the IT organization finds itself supporting a number of client devices, wireless carriers as well as applications that support their business.
That products did you consider before selecting something?
Owen Bird started working with virtualization technology in 2004. They started with Microsoft Virtual PC and soon ran into the limitations of that product.
In 2005, they examined Parallels Virtuozzo. This approach would only support a single operating system per system making it unsuitable for the enivronment.
Owen Bird then went on to consider VMware GSX and later ESX server, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and Virtual Iron. After using Virtual Iron the organization consider using the open source version of Xen. Virtual Iron made Xen easy and that was the reason it was selected.
What tangible benefits has the organization received through the use of this technology
Stephen is a one man shop and needed a way to deal with a multi-server, multi-application environment in a simple, easy way. This lead him to explore virtualization technology and management technology for virtualized systems and applications.
Later, the organization started realizing other benefits including lower costs of power, air conditioning, as well as a reduction in storage needed to support the environment. The virtualized environment makes it far easier to deploy thin client systems as well. It also makes it far easier to deal with failure scenarios quickly.
What advice would you offer others facing similar challenges
One of the things that Stephen likes about Virtual Iron is that they do business differently. They really are trying to make sure that their customers can gain benefit from the use of the technology they have developed rather than just trying to sell something.
Furthermore, Virtual Iron's management suite makes it easy to deal with a very complex environment without also requiring the IT administrator to learn many new tools. It was easy to get the environment up and running with no hand-holding or headaches.