To virtualize, v.t.
to make real and palpable something that is noetic, of the mind; to create a reality or the appearance of reality based upon a concept or ideal; to recreate in cyberspace for access via the internet.


The most pressing issue for many offices today is workplace virtualization, the creation of a virtual office environment available in cyberspace from any location using almost any computing platform at any time.

Virtualization is not getting email and the web on your phone! It is not being able to sign on AOL, Yahoo, and even that touchstone of the current cyber age Google! It is also not getting text in Timbuktu or tweets from the New York Times in Tomsk. Being connected may be a necessity but it is not virtualization!

Workplace virtualization is sitting down at any computer connected to the internet and having your workplace replicated, as you left it at the office, with all the facilities and abilities available for your use. In many workplace environments this has become a necessity for all employees, not a luxury for upper level executives. The “virtualized” business does not need employees to carry laptops or net books. It does, however, require the strategic implementation of technology and business policy; and it requires an intelligent connection between the technologists and the people they serve.

The Concept

Desktop or workplace virtualization is the concept of creating a personal computer desktop environment that is separated from the physical machine it operates on by using a client-server computing model. The virtual desktop is stored on a remote server. All of the programs, applications, processes, and data for the virtual workplace are stored and run centrally on a server.

Desktop virtualization is the delivery of access to an IT environment to a remote client device. Users gain access to their virtual workplace from any device, laptop, PC, MAC even PDA or phone. The client device does not need to be based upon the hardware architecture used by the computer system that projects the desktop environment; it may also be based upon an entirely different operating system.

Desktop virtualization lets multiple network subscribers maintain individualized desktops on a single, centrally located computer or server. The central machine may be at a residence, business, or data center. Users may be geographically scattered, but all may be connected to the central machine by a local area network, wide area network, or via the public Internet.

The Implementation

There are a variety of uses for workplace virtualization. The simplest is remote administration of workstations or even servers themselves. Any controlling computer with functioning remote client software will work as if the projected duplicate desktop is the same as the original; it is as if you are sitting in front of the real machine. In some cases, the actions of the controlling computer may be almost unnoticeable on the remote computer display. Several people can use the same computer at once, without disturbing each other’s work. This could be useful for several administrators doing different tasks on the same server. It can also be used for using hardware attached to the controlled computer, without disturbing a person who may already be using the computer.

A second major use is for spreading the resources of one machine to several users. After all, it is cheaper to buy one large computer and several cheap (“thin”) clients and have those resources used by many people. The requirements of the remote controlling software determine the cost of the computer doing the access; and they are usually cheaper and less powerful than regular workstations. If the organization already has computers, but for certain users they are not powerful enough, only one new computer may be needed, and the old ones used as thin clients.

Most importantly, in many organizations the actual office is becoming “virtual”. Employees are at multiple sites, working from home, working on the road, and placed in customer’s facilities. They are literally all over place. They all need access to corporate computing resources and corporate data. And they are all on different machines, everything from home offices to PDAs. In this virtual organization employees and managers need virtual workstations. The efficiency of using common corporate resources and organization wide corporate data increases productivity and lowers costs.

There are many other specific uses for workplace virtualization, but the above are the most common. Obviously, the use of specific software applications by users in different locations is high on that list. So also is the sharing of a project by a workgroup that’s remotely based. Once the concept is embraced by an organization, the uses are myriad.

The Methodology . . . coming soon!

There are a variety of methods to achieve workplace virtualization. It requires the right blend of software and hardware, including internet access and high speed digital communications. We will discuss these in the next article in the series . . .

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