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What to look for in converged infrastructure for branch offices

Raj Mallempati, VP of Product Marketing for Riverbed | Oct. 31, 2013
Many organizations have been consolidating data centre resources to drive efficiency and save money, and some are now poised to continue that push in branch locations using converged infrastructure to combine compute resources, network control, and storage delivery in a single scale-out unit that reduces hardware and eases management and maintenance.

Many organizations have been consolidating data centre resources to drive efficiency and save money, and some are now poised to continue that push in branch locations using converged infrastructure to combine compute resources, network control, and storage delivery in a single scale-out unit that reduces hardware and eases management and maintenance.

Converged infrastructure is designed with virtualization in mind and optimized for quickly provisioning infrastructure capabilities to support apps, developers or other IT teams. One bank was able to reduce the time it takes to provision a virtual machine for a developer from six weeks to one hour. They will soon have it down to six minutes. It's important to create an application-tuned infrastructure. The other benefit is how you can configure the converged stack to optimally serve up various applications.

Converged branch office infrastructure also reduces costs because you don't do the research and development. Instead, the integration is done by the component vendors, allowing data center teams to deploy the technology significantly faster. Better yet, you receive a single support number to troubleshoot any part of the converged solution.  

However, converged branch office infrastructure won't be completely the same as converged infrastructure in your data center. Why would it? You have a unique set of needs in branch offices, which by definition are further from centralized IT, but closer to end-users.

You can't modernize your branch office without taking user performance experience into account. If you're not careful about how you consolidate your branch infrastructure, performance will suffer. And that's likely to hamper productivity and frustrate branch office workers. A major benefit to branch office infrastructure convergence is to make applications easier to manage and more reliable for end users.

Recognizing that the branch office is the next frontier of data center transformation, but understanding the importance of performance, we recommend the following capabilities for your branch office converged infrastructure.

* Virtualization with central management: Virtualizing servers is a given in converged infrastructure, but automation is critical, especially if your company has hundreds of virtual machines to track. Using tools like VMware's vCenter to help manage and optimize virtualized instances is a key ingredient when introducing virtualization to the branch office.

* WAN acceleration: While virtualization in the branch is nice for local services (like print, DNS, etc.), the reality is most applications will be most efficient back in the data center. Unfortunately that means branch workers are far away from many of the apps and data they need to use. Yet they need rapid and reliable access to information to maintain productivity. WAN optimization can make this happen by reducing the chattiness and inefficiencies of application protocols and TCP. This enables more consistent, faster experiences for users no matter where they are working.

 

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