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Availability to the remote office: Myth or reality?

Wed 20 Jan 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Companies are facing a challenge with the data center and its true boundaries. The perception is that a data center in a head office is capable of doing everything needed for the company; but can the remote office live up to the challenge?

The data center myth

Let’s identify the problem for the CIO. Business is growing and the traditional boundary of the data center may be changing. The boundary is the pivotal discussion point.

With growth, there needs to the necessary changes in the data center. That’s rather clear, but do decision makers need to see that today’s data center needs to have all capabilities in all places?

The myth is that there is a perception that the boundary and capabilities of the data center is limited to the main site. There it is expected to see scores of capable systems in regards to all types of services provided by the data center. 

But as the demands on the data center and virtually every organisation has grown, has the boundary been blurred or removed? Capabilities today can indeed not only deliver the same service levels as what the main data center can but in some cases even more.

Shifting the boundaries

What does it take to accept the boundary shift of the data center and deliver service levels to the expectation of the business today? It takes extending basic characteristics of the data center to the remote or branch office (ROBO).

The core characteristics are to primarily be highly virtualised and have modern storage systems. In the last few years virtualisation has opened the door to a number of new capabilities for the ROBO. 

These have been good; but of course there is a quest for more. The virtualised ROBO did a number of good things initially: 

  • Reduced capital expenditures
  • Provided more resiliency for components
  • Simplified configuration

But there still has been a challenge to give the highest level of data center availability to the ROBO.

Just until recently, ROBO architects had to settle for less in some areas. The most painful point that is now a real option today is that there are data management techniques that can easily move data from the ROBO to the central data center.

This was a huge pain point as well as a risk point in case of site loss for the ROBO. Data movement today permits this to be a very doable task.

From this platform, the ROBO can extend key capabilities not just in the normal situation for the data centre; but arguably more importantly when things don’t go as expected.

The benefits can be clear for the new boundary-less data center: high-speed recovery, data loss avoidance and complete visibility are a good start to high service levels; yet there is more. Companies can also benefit from new capabilities to leverage their data to test critical changes as well as having verified recoverability of critical business services. 

ROBO data challenges for file shares

One of the IT services that the ROBO usually needs is a good experience with is file shares. In many situations, accessing file shares over a WAN is a less than optimal experience. Fortunately, there are many file that share replication technologies that are in use.

Specifically to ROBO environments that are sharing files locally, there are a lot of options to protect those file servers with Veeam. ROBO environments using Veeam can leverage one or more of the following file sharing technologies:

  • Windows or Linux virtual machines
  • File sharing virtual appliances
  • Physical Windows systems

There are strategies around replicated file systems and not backing them up at all locations, but give consideration to the availability of that data in regards to each site.

Enhanced availability for ROBOs

The three pillars of the Modern Data Center — virtualisation, modern storage and cloud technology — become the gateway to enhanced availability for ROBOs. Companies with remote and branch offices don’t have to settle for less when it comes to their availability requirements. 

The boundary of the data center will shift, whether or not the capabilities of the ROBO will meet the expectation of the Always-On Enterprise is directly dependent on how the company sets service and availability levels in the data center. 

Article by Don Williams

In his role as Veeam’s vice president for ANZ, Don Williams is responsible for overall business operations, sales and business development for the region, with a focus on growing the company’s market share in the virtualisation, disaster recovery and cloud software markets.

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