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What is Virtualization and Why Bother? - OST QB DPC OASIS OTK vmware citrix terminal services

Reference Number: AA-01369 Views: 4972 Created: 05/10/2017 12:14 pm Last Updated: 02/25/2019 08:18 am 0 Rating/ Voters

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is running an operating system within the confines of another operating system. Clear as a bell, right?

OK, so...every computer runs an operating system that is installed on its hard drive - many are Windows of some sort (Windows 7, Windows 10), but there are a growing number of MAC OSX and Linux machines are out there.

Products such as Parallels (MAC), VMWare, or Hyper-Visor (Virtual PC) allow a user to install another operating system within the existing one. Our QA Testers and Support Techs, for example, setup images of various operating systems and versions of On Center products to facilitate testing.  Sort of like running Windows within Windows - the virtual machines share the resources of the host machine but they aren't "physical" computers.

Why Virtualize?  

This is a great question, and there are various reason you or your company's IT department may choose to run a virtual machine.

All virtualization solutions allows multiple users to remotely access resources and applications installed in a central location.  When a user accesses a remote access environment, a virtual desktop is created where they will have access to a session on that server.  From this virtual desktop, they can run applications installed on that server which the administrator has published for use.  They can also access other network resources as configured by the administrator (printers, files, etc).

One of the main advantages to using remote access environments is that it centralizes applications and gives IT departments, or consultants, more control over managing what applications and versions end users have access to, reducing upgrade times, ensuring application licensing compliance, and reducing hardware overhead.

Remote desktops allows your IT department to distribute high-end software offerings that may not work well on desktop computers.  Your IT department can utilize the resources (CPU, hard drive, and memory) of the server to run the program and maximize its hardware ROI. Different programs perform differently when accessed remotes - it is up to your company to determine the best approach to delivering On Center Software products to its end users.  It's also up to your company to ensure that its servers and network are configured in a manner that provides an acceptable end-user experience.

Additional Reasons to Virtualize Desktop and Applications

  • Cost savings – having to own and maintain a single piece of hardware that can accommodate multiple servers cuts costs for a company’s IT department.
  • This is true for virtualizing desktops (your everyday "computer") and servers. If a company can host 20 users on a single server, they do not need to buy 20 high-end computers for their users - they can buy what is known as 'client' computers that have just enough system/hardware resources to run an operating system and connect to the server (this is basically what Oasis Takeoff does - most of the 'heavy lifting' is done on our cloud servers, the end users' workstations do not need to be as powerful).
  • Ease of management/deployment – virtual servers allow an IT department to centralize more services, further saving time and money. For end user 'desktops', this mean, an IT department can upgrade a single machine (the server) and new operating systems or versions of OST/QB/DPC are deployed to dozens of users instantly.
  • Security/reliability – snap-shots of a virtual server or desktop allow it to be instantly restored if something goes wrong and/or reloaded on another host in the effect of hardware failure. This also means an IT group doens't need to install/configure/monitor virus protection/firewalls on a hundred desktops - they simply need to secure the Server and then restrict network access so the end users can communicate with the Internet through the server (much simpler and safer than protecting 20, 50, or 100 independent connections to the Internet).
  • Less physical hardware requires less electricity to run and keep cool - additional cost savings and better for Mother Earth! Don't laugh, this can add up to tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. That can pay for some nice bonuses for an organization - or, it could be the difference between buying 5 or 25 product licenses from On Center!

Who May Want to Virtual and How?

Apple Users

Some MAC users own or use one or more Windows-based programs (such as On-Screen Takeoff, Quick Bid, Digital Production Control, or Oasis Takeoff) that cannot be installed in the MAC OSX environment.  (BTW, our License Manager is a Windows-based program but it is not supported running in a MAC-based virtual environment, see ELM-System Requirements for more information).

On Center supports running our software in Parallels on a MAC.  However, to license our Classic products (OST, QB, DPC) in any virtual environment (Parallels on a MAC), you will need to use Enterprise License Manager.

Windows PC Users

Ever have that perfect piece of software but the manufacturer stopped developing it 5-10 years ago (the author would rather die than give up Microsoft Money, which Microsoft went and killed off almost 10 years ago)?  Well, some people just will not let go, or they own a piece of software that is not compatible with the version of Windows they are running and cannot be updated/upgraded for one reason or another.  So, these folks install a Virtual PC running the version of Windows they require (legally obtained/licensed, of course).  On Center developed our Product Life Cycle (Sunset plans) so you can check to see if the software you want to run is supported by On Center anymore.

Azure, Citrix, Terminal Services, Remote Desktop Services, etc.

These are services (system programs) that run on a server and allow multiple remote users to access applications or even the desktop of that server.  For example, let’s say a client wants to centralize their users so they don’t have to manage 100 desktop installations of On-Screen Takeoff and/or Quick Bid (and 100 or more local Access databases).  The client could install the products on a Citrix/TS-RDS server and publish the applications to their end users.  (See Related articles for more information on Citrix and the like.)

Note
Each user is running his or her own instance of the application and he or she will require a separate license using a License Key (for products released after 1/1/2018) or a network license (for products released prior to 1/1/2018).

Notes

  • You must use SQL databases (stored on a separate server) when running the programs over any of these remote services (preferably on a separate server).
  • It is best practice to store image files on a separate server that operates as an image repository, that way, if you ever need to rebuild your virtualization server, you will not have as much to restore.
  • License managers should not be installed on a server acting as the virtualizer - they can be installed in a virtual environment (as long as the license manager's system requirements support that).
Caution
Oasis Takeoff cannot be installed in Azure, Citrix, or Remote Desktop Services environments for distribution to multiple users - the program's installer does not support this type of installation.

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