The running of legacy applications that cannot be ported to a modern operating system, in their own legacy environment, inside a virtual machine on a modern host operating system is often cited as one of the advantages of virtualisation.
I have a slightly different issue. As a consultant, I spend as much of my time with clients as possible and visits to the office are rare. I’ve also had a variety of hardware issues of late and frequently rebuild the notebook PC that I use for work. I use my own SUS server for software updates but need my PC to be a member of our company’s Active Directory to access my corporate e-mail using Outlook 2003’s HTTP over RPC functionality. Being away from the office means that until an administrator can join my rebuilt PC to the domain, I’m restricted to using Outlook Web Access (as good as the latest version is, it’s still no substitute for the real thing).
It seems that virtualisation can provide the answer to my conundrum. Earlier today, the internal support guys added one of my virtual machines to the corporate domain. Now I can access my corporate applications, run the company’s preferred security products, and generally be a good corporate citizen inside Microsoft Virtual PC and do what I like with my host operating system. I can rebuild my PC at will, then simply reinstall Virtual PC (or Virtual Server), fire up my corporate virtual machine and carry on working.