Remote office/branch office (ROBO) sites need just as much performance, security and availability from their infrastructures as headquarters-based data centers deliver. But those smaller entities are typically squeezed to keep down Opex while still delivering enterprise-class performance and service, despite having far fewer resources than IT teams in large data centers.
By deploying specially designed converged infrastructure solutions, IT leaders can give ROBO constituents the best of both words: robust infrastructure along with manageable cooling, power, physical space and operational costs.
With the right converged platform, IT teams can deliver enterprise-class IT to smaller offices at a price point that addresses the budgetary constraints of serving ROBO users. In addition, IT can significantly simplify deployments so an IT generalist can easily install, manage and support the entire ROBO infrastructure.
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The key is to use a converged platform that has been designed from its inception to serve the needs of ROBO environments. This means a solution that addresses power, cooling and physical space costs while also significantly reducing management complexity. What should you look for in a converged ROBO solution? Here are key features and functions:
Prepackaged, preintegrated: The solution should come preintegrated with servers, storage, networking and management software so it can be easily purchased, installed and deployed. You don’t want to spend the time and cost required for local IT teams or personnel at headquarters to specify, purchase, install and manage separate infrastructure components.
Simple to deploy: With a preintegrated solution, every aspect of deployment is simpler. The entire infrastructure can be up and running in less than an hour with no need for tuning or specialized personnel to set up the networking or storage infrastructure. There is less equipment to rack or set up and there are fewer power cables, networking cables and storage interconnections. Ongoing operations are also much simpler because everything is self-contained and managed from a single pane of glass. If there is ever a need to scale, you can simply purchase another unit.
Space efficient and office friendly: ROBO sites are different than offices supported by on-premises data centers. In a data center environment, IT resources are centrally located and isolated from users. In ROBO environments, the technology equipment is physically located around users, usually in the same space. Therefore, ROBO environments need solutions that have been designed to take up as little space as possible and can operate quietly, fitting the acoustic requirements of smaller spaces. Most converged infrastructure solutions are too big for smaller offices, so it is critical to choose a solution that has been designed to meet the physical and acoustical requirements of ROBO environments.
Energy-efficient: Power and cooling is another important area where the design of the solution must be aimed at meeting the requirements of a ROBO environment. Typical converged solutions require dedicated power and cooling systems that are not practical—from either a cost or space standpoint—for smaller office environments. What you want is a solution that has no special power or cooling requirements and can be unboxed and plugged into a standard uninterruptable power supply (UPS)/outlet in the wall. You also don’t want to place added environmental/energy pressure on the local office. For example, in a branch office the manager may want to turn off air conditioning during nonbusiness hours to save money. With a converged infrastructure that is energy efficient and does not require specialized cooling requirements, turning off the air conditioning should never be an issue.
While this article is focused on Opex savings, converged infrastructures also deliver value to the business in other ways. With a preconfigured, prevalidated solution, organizations can achieve upfront and ongoing Capex savings. They can also enhance productivity and agility, leading to improved time to value and other valuable business benefits. Keep an eye on this space for future articles on how the right converged infrastructure solution can help reduce Capex and improve business agility for ROBO environments.