March 16, 2009, 6:29 PM — 1) Reducing IT costs is more important than ever
According to Financial Insights, virtualization is one of the top five priorities for IT spending in the financial services industry. Server and endpoint virtualization are transforming IT operations by reducing costs through higher resource utilization. This offers financial institutions a streamlined, automated and cost-effective way to deploy and support both computing resources and users, while also meeting regulatory requirements for privacy and reporting.
Andi Mann, Research Director at Enterprise Management Associates, has noted 90 percent of enterprises report real and measurable ROI from virtualization in general. This translates into renewed opportunity for financial institutions to leverage virtualization as a cost saving measure.
This includes server initiatives. Standardizing on a common set of tools at the software layer can greatly reduce operational complexity across heterogeneous operating systems, storage and applications. Financial services institutions can lower their costs with tiered storage. Older files can be moved to less expensive storage devices without changing the way users or applications access those files.
2) Combating vulnerability through better security
In trying economic times, financial institutions can find themselves at their most vulnerable point. According to Scott Crawford, Research Director for Enterprise Management Associates, “The most common element of exploit is the endpoint, partly because it is still under the control of the individual. It’s a difficult environment to get a handle on.”
It’s even more challenging for institutions with many branch offices and remote employees scattered across the globe. Such a complex management environment is filled with insecurities and inefficiencies, but leaving it to users can be infinitely more dangerous.
Institutions are finding that a well-managed workspace is a secure workspace. Virtualization helps institutions achieve this security by implementing better endpoint controls.
3) Improved flexibility throughout the institution
Virtualization helps financial institutions become more agile by providing the employees access to their workspaces from any location. With streaming technology, users can get access to their applications anywhere, anytime, on-demand. That access drives user productivity and is a direct contributor to an institution’s top line. This approach, which requires only a single connection and efficiently utilizes server and connection resources, ensures users obtain consistently reliable access to an institution’s applications and data.
In addition, IT no longer needs to install and configure all applications on every workstation since they can be streamed in a virtual layer only when needed. And in some instances, thick-client resources can even be replaced with centrally managed thin-client resources.
IT can also ensure consistent user experiences, regardless of what device is being used. Follow-me capabilities tie workspaces to users instead of devices. This enables IT to efficiently deliver tailored workspaces to all of its users.
4) Saving time and creating more efficiency
Many financial institutions have eliminated much of the manual work associated with application management, saving thousands of technician hours annually.
Central management allows IT to service users and devices while minimizing desk-side visits. For example, centralizing control and enablement of single sign-on, automatic password rollover and self-service password maintenance options help IT resolve password issues more quickly and easily. Centralization also enables IT to quickly resolve any locked desktop issues that may arise. IT can instantly terminate the user’s session, and the user can then simply re-authenticate. In addition, location awareness capabilities ensure that documents will always print on a printer close to the workstation, avoiding help desk inquiries and increasing user productivity.
Virtualization also saves time by eliminating pre-deployment testing of new and updated applications. Pre-deployment testing is a necessary albeit time-consuming task that can delay installs or updates. With virtualization, there are no conflicts, so testing isn’t required, and installs and updates happen instantaneously to free IT resources and users alike.
There are also many benefits to storage management. Storage virtualization can help financial services institutions to:
- Reduce data center complexity and improve IT productivity by managing multiple physical resources as fewer virtual resources
- Meet rapidly changing demands by dynamically adjusting storage resources across the information infrastructure
- Increase the efficiency of storage by letting files be stored wherever there is room rather than have some drives go underutilized
- Guarantee anywhere access for disaster recovery applications
- Spend less time managing storage devices, since some chores can be centralized
- Provide one view into the data center
Virtualization, both at the endpoint and in the data center, can simplify the workspace and server environments while allowing financial institutions to focus on their most important asset – their customers. By streamlining daily tasks, less time will be spent managing endpoint and storage devices, and more time can be spend addressing customer needs.
Since financial institutions are well known for having complex, heterogeneous IT environments (through home grown systems, rogue purchases by a line-of-business or department, and years of industry consolidation), there is tremendous opportunity for financial services institutions to simplify and benefit from virtualization.
In tough economic times, efficiency means everything. Virtualized environments in financial institutions frees IT resources from the many challenges that plague traditional desktop environments and allows more productivity and better ROI from your existing IT investment. Virtualization has a positive impact on an institution’s top- and bottom- line. By leveraging virtualization, institutions can make a sizable dent in escalating IT costs, while improving server manageability as well as security.