Does cloud computing reduce the need for physical I.T presence....?

Yashy
Yashy used Ask the Experts™
on
hi guys

One of our directors has asked me some questions about what we could do in the future to reduce the need for I.T presence at one of our countries and instead have it so that the support is almost entirely run from the U.K instead.

The site at our other country has two separate sites. One is a warehouse, the other is an office. The total number of users at both sites together is around 100 users. There are firewalls at both sites. There are VPN's connecting both sites. Those sites are also connected to us in the U.K

I mean, one of the only ways to reduce the I.T presence in one place is by reducing the types of physical hardware/equipment which would constantly require physical presence, right? So things like switches, PC's dying on you, printers, file storage, SAN disks needing replacement, you name it all will require some level of physical intervention.

By heading towards Office 365 and Exchange online, would you say that helps slightly reduce the overhead?

Along with that, how about instead of having PC's that are powerful, have decent thin clients and have high enough bandwidth to give them connectivity to their own virtualised machine on like a cluster of Vmware/Hyper-V servers on a SAN that have been spun up for them. So that would then reduce the possibility of hardware/disk failures on site and instead have them run on virtual terminals. Are there performance issues with that? Are the costs in the longer term reduce and is the quality affected?

thanks for helping
Yash
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VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017
Commented:
Simple answer - Yes. We've been doing this for over 23 years. Reducing IT staff at sites.

1. Implement Service Desk. (Centrally).
2. Move all File Servers and Applications off site.
3. Move to Remote Desktop Services. (Service Desk can show user faults in real time!)
4. Roll out Thin Clients.
5. Store spares configured on-site, for easy deployment by staff.

That was in 1995!  it's got much easier since, with faster and cheaper communications, and faster clients etc

(but you could send someone out 1 a month, 1 a quarter, and ensure they have stocks of spares, configured in stores read just to plug in!)

or ship to sight, and have vendors ready configure laptops, printers, desktops etc

Author

Commented:
But then what about the graphics and having sound and decent visuals? For example, someone with a thin client having access to a virtual environment, would they have just as good visuals and sound displayed to them? I'm not talking about gaming here, but let's even consider viewing high quality images on the internet?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
VDI - VMware Horizon View. Citrix XenDesktop, Citrix XenApp

You've heard of these products ?

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Author

Commented:
I've definitely heard of all of the above, yes.

And a thin client with a decent enough bandwidth can accomplish the above, yes?

Author

Commented:
Andy, that's awesome mate. Thanks so much for the insight.

Any particular Service Desk?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
Yes, it could be done in 1995, so 2018 no issues now, with the faster communications around the world.

I think time for you to start investigating Thin Client Server Based Computing versus VDI (virtual machines).

Should you wish to replace staff at a site, and start a Proof of Concept.

There are many Service Desk software packages, some free, some opensource, some inexpensive, and some very expensive....
atlas_shudderedSr. Network Engineer

Commented:
I'm not a end host geek guys but.....

I have worked in a couple of environments where ClearCube has been used to reduce the net footprint in work areas as well.  My understanding is that there is some net reduction in overall local hardware cost as well as reduction in environmental costs.  May be a worthwhile look in addition to the comments above depending on just how much you want to cut costs at local sites.
Just to comment on this, btw I used clearcube back in the day whenit was a shiny metallic cube.  Now it looks like most thin clients.

But yes, you can reduce the overall cost with centralization.  We have 23ish offices that are all serviced with thin clients, ip phones, network printers and typical routing and switching.  All running RDP to a Microsoft Server farm.  Not full blown VDI as we don't need individual desktops.

So from a financial, we reduced IT staff by 33%, and the remaining staff basically sits at the office doing more infrastructure work instead of desktop OS support.  The central environment is more controlled and the over the last 10 years, we lost 2 thin clients.  Easilty replaced with spares.  

Networking support can be more tricky, but you could look at solutions like Meraki to have a plug and play infrastructure so mildly intelligent person would swap a down switch or router.  Redundancy is the key, they cant have one internet and one router and run it all from the cloud.  What if it is down?  You could go pseudo hybrid and have a local DC and each site with servers and storage as needed.  Still run thins to that DC.

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