Think about the average company today: thanks to technology, most employees can work from anywhere. The evolution of the office space makes geographical limitations nonexistent, and small and medium-sized companies (SMBs) are finding it easier and easier to open up remote office, branch offices (ROBO) and truly go global. That’s not to say, though, that challenges do not exist.
When not managed correctly, ROBO can be left out on the sidelines: under-staffed, under-funded, and under-supported. Given limited staffing and/or financial assets, management often needs to consider how it will dedicate resources to the space, specifically to the new remote site’s IT department. They may find it requires some level of technology support from headquarters. It is difficult enough to maintain, manage, protect, and secure a multi-vendor legacy IT infrastructure as it is – now try applying it to a remote site.
ROBO environments must be dynamic and keep pace with shifting business requirements, though that’s easier said than done. Take, for example, a growing financial company with remote offices around the globe, where applications run on a highly transactional database. Applications cannot be centralized and instead must be run locally at each site to ensure performance is met. IT needs to guarantee that the application environment is free from issues that will cause downtime and that future growth can be accommodated (while at the same time keeping capital and operational expenses low).
Now let’s get extreme: think of an oil and gas company, transporting product via ship. These ships serve as a ROBO with full-time staff, but no IT staff, and can even have its own small data center. One common problem that data centers on remote ships run into is that they cannot backup data because the satellite link introduces over 500ms of latency and a significant amount of packet loss. These sites, therefore, can lose data in the blink of an eye. For that reason, disk and tape storage systems remain staples of ROBO protection strategies, and improving data backup and recovery tops IT’s priority check-list at these sites.
So how does a company address this type of IT problem while keeping pace with data growth and reducing storage costs?
The solution lies in hyperconverged infrastructure: a single-vendor solution that enables cloud-like economics and scale with the performance, reliability and availability you would expect in a data center. Hyperconvergence can have a “data center in a box” approach that combines all infrastructure below the hypervisor in a highly-scalable data center building block, removing the need for other software/storage products. By doing so, IT is dramatically simplified and efficient.
This approach also allows data to become efficient in terms of capacity and performance by writing and reading less data to and from disk, making it ideal for ROBO. Because of the centralized management capabilities of hyperconvergence, IT can manage and operate activities at remote sites via centralized management, making data backups, transfers and recovery simple – even if it’s from a ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Hyperconvergence also eradicates the need for additional backup software, hardware, deduplication, replication and cloud solutions. IT can create policies that automatically control the the frequency of the backups, where data are stored (local, remote or cloud), and the retention time.
Hyperconverged infrastructure, therefore, takes the remote out of ROBO. Management has the luxury of applying its IT infrastructure to a branch office, allowing them to manage resources wisely and ensure data protection while keeping costs low and supporting the site.