As business software advances faster than ever before, the modern workforce demands IT infrastructure that is simple, secure and flexible. That said – due to inevitably longer product cycles – the hardware powering these workplaces is in many ways slow to adapt to the increasing demands of modern applications. 

The hardware challenge

A recent report by Curry’s TechTalk sheds light on the effects of slow workplace technology, with workers across Britain spending an average of 20 minutes a day opening software and programmes – adding up to a whopping 10.8 days per year. Now, businesses that rely heavily on outdated, on-premise hardware to keep staff productive risk not only falling short on performance, but also risk failing to cater to the needs for a more flexible way of working. 

Amidst often dwindling IT budgets, it simply isn’t always feasible for businesses to invest in regular hardware upgrades to facilitate the sophisticated software needed to operate across many roles. Take the example of design-based industries like construction or manufacturing, which require complex and graphically-intensive applications such as AutoCAD to develop high-spec drawings. 

These programmes can quite easily falter when run on hardware that is not fit for purpose, with potential to not only disrupt the user experience, but increase the margin for inaccuracy. What’s more, this type of software would traditionally require staff to be present within the office in order to operate – leaving very little opportunity for flexibility or productivity elsewhere.  

A virtual approach

The question now for businesses is: how can we achieve all of this simultaneously and within budget? For those running complex on-premise applications, technologies such as Virtualisation can spark a shift towards a more SaaS approach and alleviate some of the common intricacies associated with business hardware. Virtualisation is by no means a new concept, however it seems that only recently are businesses realising its full potential to deliver more cost effective and smarter working. 

Essentially, the term defines the creation of a virtual version of something, such as a hardware platform or operating system. Simply put, it is a technique that allows you to host multiple virtual machines, and each machine can be running different operating systems or applications. 

By way of business value, this can help to eliminate the need for additional costly hardware; more servers on a machine reduces the need for physical servers, reducing hardware, space and power costs. Managing graphics within a virtual hosted environment also means that end users can operate on any device from anywhere. The result? An ability to run the most demanding software on even the poorest of devices – with the only real requirement being access to the internet and a licence for some specialist applications. 

A new industry standard? 

With more than half of businesses planning to use storage and application virtualisation by 2021, the opportunity is ripe for businesses to transform with managed virtual graphics and reduce the rate of interrupted working experiences at the hands of inadequate hardware. 

Combine this with secure hosting technology and processing can take place in robust data centres, rather than the end user’s device to ultimately decrease reliance on high-spec hardware. This can also bring added security benefits; data is never stored on the end user’s device – giving IT decision makers peace of mind that all business-critical data can’t be compromised.

This also begs the question as to whether the technology will be used as the key to flexibility across industries that rely on demanding software. Application isolation, greater workload profitability, improved scalability and accessibility are a handful of tangible outcomes which can make virtualisation attractive to business decision makers, whilst helping their staff to achieve more without investing in expensive hardware – no matter how complex the application. 

Unlocking a flexible future

Being able to access everything that users need remotely is still a new way of working across many industries. Previously, being able to access industry-grade applications on standard end-user devices has been a tedious and challenging experience. This often meant that working remotely – whether that be from home or even when commuting on the train – was anything but easy. Yet, with managed virtual graphics opening up complex software to the masses regardless of location or device, could the tide be changing?  

It goes without saying that flexible working is the future and any roadblocks to delivering on this trend  can really affect a user’s productivity, satisfaction and quality of work. In CIPD’s 2019 UK working lives survey, 54% of UK employees work flexibly in some way, however two in three employees would like to work flexibly in a way that’s not yet available. By creating virtual versions of an on-premise hardware platform or application, users can maximise their outputs across any type of device and decision makers can reinvest budget that would otherwise be spent on implementing the latest, most robust on-premise hardware. By breaking down location barriers, businesses can successfully open workers up to a smarter working experience – one that isn’t bound by the limitations of outdated hardware.

Implemented correctly, virtualisation can remove the difficulties of hardware by eliminating slow workspaces, encouraging staff flexibility and productivity, as well as mitigating the growing costs of updating machinery. Over the next few years, we may well even see virtualisation extend across all other areas of a business and offer an extremely attractive solution to smarter and easier working for employees and decision makers alike.