3 Reasons Why Traditional Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Can Be a Risky Choice for IT and Business


Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) solutions are amongst the hottest trends in IT infrastructure. In a recent Taneja Group report, 25% of the respondents are evaluating HCI solutions as part of their data center infrastructure strategy. This type of architecture can provide solid value in the data center in terms of simplicity, scalability and ease of manageability, and initial logic might then dictate the same benefits could be achieved in ROBO environments. But this is just not the case. While architecturally, these traditional HCI approaches from the likes of Nutanix and SimpliVity, to name a few, can provide a sound platform for the data center, there are certain important nuances that prohibit enterprises from reaping similar benefits while using traditional HCI to address the complexities of Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) IT.  Below are three important reasons why traditional HCI is not best suited for ROBO environments, and how Riverbed SteelFusion, hyper-convergence purpose-built for the edge, provides a better way to address them. And in today’s complex, competitive and risky world—extremely important considerations when you’re evaluating global infrastructure.

Where is your data?

According to an ESG Research Report, 53% of enterprises surveyed have more than 100 ROBO locations. Majority of the business workforce resides outside the data center in these remote locations. And as a result, much of enterprise data is created and exists outside of the data center. Traditional HCI solutions provide hypervisors, storage and networking converged in a single appliance. While hypervisors and networking are stateless functions, storage remains very much stateful. Even though traditional HCI solutions may provide a simple infrastructure to maintain and manage, they do not prevent data sprawl. This results in enterprise data being distributed amongst 10s, 100s, and sometimes even thousands of locations worldwide. A stateful architecture is perfectly positioned in the data center where there are enterprise grade solutions and resources as well as IT staff to maintain and support it all. However, in the branch or in a remote site having a stateful system requires data protection efforts, and therefore, more complexity and risk. Backup must take place at the branch, and must happen regularly, and without error. When deploying a remote or branch solution, the biggest question organizations should ask is ‘Where is the data?’ If it’s outside of the data center, we cannot glean similar security benefits as we can in the data center due to differing nature of ROBO environments. 

Riverbed SteelFusion for Hyper-converged Edge is the only stateless hyper-converged solution built specifically for the ROBO IT infrastructure. All three components (compute, storage and networking) of SteelFusion are stateless. At the storage layer, SteelFusion intelligently predicts and caches only the working set data at the edge, giving the business user local speed experience. 100% of the data always remains in the data center on enterprise grade infrastructure where it can be protected centrally, hence no need for local branch backups or concern about data loss.

Management & support: would you prefer to manage 100 servers in 100 locations; or 100 servers from one location?

Majority of the enterprise IT staff resides at the data center, however, at the same time there are typically significantly fewer data centers than remote offices; and yet, remote offices are central to revenue growth and the business at hand. According to an IDC study, there are typically 55 branches to one data center—and in some cases, this is a very conservative number. The same IT staff must manage the data center operations as well as many disparate ROBO sites. Traditional HCI solutions lower the physical footprint to be managed at these remote locations, however, functionally, each ROBO location is like a scaled-down data center containing miniaturized versions of the same components that require the same distributed management. Managing many moving parts in multiple locations is challenging enough, couple that with managing these remotely is a pain all IT shops can relate to. According to an IDG survey, 61% of the respondents cited decreased end-user satisfaction as a result of not having readily available trained IT staff onsite. 

The Riverbed SteelFusion Hyper-converged Edge solution not only takes the data out of remote locations, as mentioned previously, but also strips the sites from all management overhead. All data and its management is consolidated at the data center using enterprise-class data center tools, systems, and IT resources. Data is projected out to the Edge from the data center, as opposed to data being replicated back from the edge as done with conventional storage/HCI o traditional branch infrastructure solutions. With SteelFusion, new services and even new sites can be provisioned from the data center to remote location(s) in mere minutes, and similarly, sites can be recovered in minutes instead of hours or days. And this is inadvertent of distance. Imagine that! Of course this results in more efficient use of data center resources and a bigger bang for buck out of data center and IT team capabilities.

What about your data security?

Data housed at the data center is more secure than data outside of the data center—that’s just common sense. Data centers have better physical, and logical security measures than at remote locations. In the last few years, we have seen cybercrimes of newsworthy proportion that have opened the eyes of CIOs worldwide as they pay more attention to safeguarding their intellectual property. Data is being generated from numerous silos.  From consumer based mobile devices to enterprises using cloud hosted SaaS based services, there are many avenues of threat to enterprise IT.  According to another industry survey, 43% of the respondents expect their IT budgets to increase with security at the forefront of their IT initiatives. Here’s the issue, and it’s worth underscoring: traditional HCI solutions—and for that matter, traditional ROBO IT solutions in general—leave real enterprise data at remote locations. In some cases, multiple copies of the data reside at these locations since some organizations require local backups for faster recoverability. This data is typically placed on lower grade infrastructure due to cost constraints at the edge making it even more susceptible to security risk and data loss.

The Riverbed SteelFusion Hyper-Converged Edge solution not only consolidates 100% of enterprise data on a much more robust infrastructure—(in the data center) with greater measures of security, but also encrypts the data end-to-end. Even the bits and pieces of cached data that linger in remote locations are always encrypted with keys safely kept at the data center. If someone were to walk away with the SteelFusion Edge appliance, not only would they get only fragments of indecipherable and unusable data, they would also get encrypted fragments of data as an added measure of security. In other words—the data would be useless. No other solution on the market provides this level (or levels) of data security at the edge. And since an average of 50% of a typical organization’s data is being generated at the edge—avoiding this consideration could seriously effect the overall business.

For more information, please visit www.riverbed.com/steelfusion or contact your local sales team.


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