Have you visited the new SMB solutions site that VMware has been working on lately? VMware has really started targeting small and medium-sized businesses with some of their solutions, services, and now even technical marketing. They’ve recently changed their SMB site to show off the several offerings geared towards the SMB market including business continuity, desktop, server consolidation, management and security, cloud services and even email and collaboration. On the overview page you can easily find many “Getting Started” videos and links to blogs and white papers to help newer customers become more familiar with their products.
Site Recovery Manager and vStorage appliance
VMware is used in 100% of Fortune 100 companies and has been the main virtualization platform for many large companies for a few years now. However, their products haven’t traditionally been known to always fit in a smaller shop’s IT budget. Not to mention the storage and other third-party products and solutions that are sometimes necessary to run them. When vSphere 5 came out earlier this year, though, all of that started to change. VMware introduced a couple of tweaks to some of their larger products to make them more attractive to the SMB market. Examples of these products were the vStorage Appliance and vSphere Replication in the Site Recovery Manager (SRM) solution. The vStorage Appliance allows local storage on the physical hosts to act as a substitute for a more expensive storage area network (SAN) and the vSphere Replication part of SRM allows a company to not have to purchase a storage replication solution. It can replicate data between two sites over your WAN or network link.
ESXi and SocialCast
There are even some free products offered to get companies rolling. The ESXi server, which is the operating system, or hypervisor, that goes on the physical host can be used for free. Though management options do cost money, it at least allows you to get a feel for what virtualization and server consolidation are like.
There’s also a new product that was recently generally released called SocialCast. SocialCast is a collaboration solution that looks a lot like Facebook and Twitter combined for the enterprise. It’s tagline is: “The social network built for the enterprise.” You can sign up and up to 50 users can participate for free. After 50 there is a fee involved. Configuring SocialCast is really simple. Just go to www.socialcast.com and put in your information. An email will be sent to you with instructions and tutorials. Once you fill in the initial information you can pretty much start posting updates to what they call streams, as shown in Figure A (similar to the Facebook wall). You can also post updates to certain groups and use it as more of a collaboration solution, see Figure B.
As I mentioned before, SocialCast also has some Twitter-like features such as an @mentions view and flagging messages. Not only can you see everything going on in SocialCast you can also import your other social media accounts for ease of use (see Figure C).
The first user that sets up SocialCast can claim admin rights and set up the various policies and accounts for other users. You can get to the administration console by clicking on your account name and choosing Admin from the pull-down menu. There are plenty of customizable items in this console including setting up security. Access can be revoked from users, but what I think it nice is being able to limit which email servers and IP address ranges are allowed to access your company’s SocialCast site (See Figure D).
It’s incredible that there are so many technologies available to SMBs now that would have been so much more expensive and impossible to implement without a larger IT in a physical environment. If this trend continues, and it looks like it’s going to, it will get even easier (and hopefully less expensive) for SMBs to do things like disaster recovery, server consolidation, and collaboration.