How to use virtualization to become a "yes" CIO

Thursday - 9/16/2010, 7:23pm EDT

Joe Brown

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Your agency's mobile device population is rising, and your people want you to let them put their devices on the network. One tool CIOs are using to save energy and money can also make your network platform-agnostic, and make your network safer in the bargain.

Virtualization is saving agencies across government money, but Joe Brown, President of Accelera Solutions, says the biggest benefit might be the control you have over how your people compute, while giving them more freedom over where, and on what, they compute. "There's been this concept that some companies have adopted called BYOPC, 'bring your own PC,' Joe told me. "What these companies do is give an allowance to their employees to buy a PC, and it can be whatever they want. The employee is responsible for the PC, and getting support from the manufacturer. Then XXthe companiesXX virtualize the desktop that they typically would have installed on the PC for this person. The person can then access that virtual desktop anywhere they have an internet connection."

That's good for morale because the employee computes on the device he or she is most comfortable with, not matter the OS. "The endpoint device is no longer necessarily a PC," Joe said. "It can be an iPad, it can be a tablet device, it could be a phone, any number of Linux or Mac devices. The endpoint platform is completely irrelevant because now we can run a Windows 7 operating system on top of an iPad. I think the greatest news is, CIOs that are adopting desktop virtualization can be CIOs that can say 'yes' to things, whereas before they had to say 'no' because there was no way to manage those devices."

The Federal government takes its lumps for being behind the technology curve, but Joe told me he was pleased with the reception for virtualization. "It was amazing to me. I was very excited and encouraged to see how rapidly Federal CIOs adopted server virtualization," Joe said. "I think at this point, nearly every agency we talk to today has some form or flavor of virtualization, and most of them have defined some kind of strategy around how they will adopt server virtualization, which is great. That speaks volumes about the folks that are leading these agencies today."

There are some holdouts, though, and I asked Joe what they are holding out for. "I think there are a combination of hurdles that people have when they start looking at this technology. The first one is, 'is it viable, is anyone else using it?' They don't want to be the first people. Something that's really driven these agencies recently is the mandates that have been pushed down from the President."

Joe and I also talked about AHLTA's success story with virtualization; the desktop-to-thin-client migration; doing business with the government (he says it's getting easier); and how your agency can use 1/15th of the power it's using now on one common IT use.