- Specialized IT staff to manage
- Fate of the critical data that is not backed-up
New approach – Virtualized Branch Networking
Virtualized Branch Networking with the power of hyper-convergence is the new approach that is geared-up to address the above shortcomings.
- It eliminates multiple appliances, converging them to a single appliance or a commodity x86 server
- Redundancy is still a challenge, but can be addressed through software methods
- Easier to replace an x86 server with the latest machine or scale it with additional memory and storage
- No branch IT staff required
- Option to centrally back-up the data (real-time or after office hours) and restore it when branch fails
This is achieved through virtualization of network functions including routing, wireless LAN controller, firewall, and virtualized servers for running various local applications. Switch may be still required, but a small network switch (supported by few manufacturers now) as a module in the server itself, serves the purpose. Access points cannot be replaced though.
The benefits hyper-convergence brings to a branch office network is not only limited to running network functions; with the compute and storage available on these appliances you may run small branch office applications, domain, file and print services, time and attendance applications or CCTV surveillance consoles. All these come with the enterprise grade advantage of centralized back up and management.
This single server can be shipped to the branch offices preconfigured waiting to be connected to the Internet (a task which can be achieved by a non-IT staff) and powered, while rest of the configuration, management, policies and control from one central location. In a single click, back up of branch data can be initiated, restored from central location and the branch is up and running in no time.
Resultant benefits are several:
- Minimize power consumption of several devices
- Minimize multiple points of failure
- Less space required (instead of a 42U rack, go for a 19U mounted cabinet rack)
- Data loss eliminated
- Improved security
- Better user experience
Critical success factors
Several leading network vendors have recognized the need of customers managing large number of branches and have packaged their hyper-converged branch solutions. However, the following will determine the success factors of such solutions:
- Ability to support Ethernet and other WAN terminations
- Ability to support hardware level redundancy
- Ability to support 3G/4G
- Ability to restore the base image of the appliance/server using an USB/flash storage
- Centralized backup and restoration
- Wider support for business applications
- Advanced security feature sets
As the customers adopt more and more branch-in-a-box solutions, feedback exchange with vendors and system integrators these solutions will mature over the period resulting in simplified, secure branch office networking. Be assured, time has come to order your branch networking in a box and unbox your branch.