Selling Solutions, Not Technology


I got sent a mailshot about ‘The #1appliance’ for the SMB and ROBO (remote office / branch office.) Intrigued to see what the #1 appliance could offer I read through the impressive list of software and hardware specs;

  • Unified best of breed
  • Built-in backup services
  • Key software vendors
  • Impressive stats of reliability and uptime
  • A configuration straight out of the box

But what I didn’t read was what is the problem that all this technology is going to solve.

Sure, all the above are great in their own right, but when I’m looking at my IT infrastructure landscape, the business demands placed on it, future planning of the business and IT, etc. where does all the above change or solve my problems?

I can buy all the vendors listed, probably find cheaper hardware (at a better spec), haggle a better support contract with my VAR towards renewal etc. so what am I getting out it?

The list above solves all the individual problems of putting a lot of vendors together under one roof, but none of my business problems. How does:

  • Unified best of breed stop my server sprawl?
  • Applying the same backup architecture simplify the existing design?
  • Having all those vendors together shorten my application deployment times?
  • Amazing uptime cope when it’s not up and I need to redeploy?
  • That configuration change when my goals change?

There’s no doubt that that converged appliances solve problems, but with lines of business driving IT, it’s now less about vendor X and technology Y, but more about service X and application Y.

Best of breed and uptime stats are now the norm and are expected without question in any enterprise deployment. Adaptability and response times to changes from the business are now the key; how quickly can IT deploy and support a business change, not the server it’s running on. 

All of the above and more

SteelFusion is a converged infrastructure that on the face of it is just like any other hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI); storage, network, and compute overlaid with AES-256 encryption (optional). But where SteelFusion changes the game is how it’s used to respond to business demands. 

Data on demand, secure at the data center

SteelFusion is the only HCI that projects storage from the security of the data center (DC) out to the ROBO using a cached active data set on a SteelFusion Edge Device. So what does this solve?  

Applications and operating systems do not need all the data they have stored on a disk when they are running or first booted. With the SteelFusion storage cache architecture only the active blocks are used and stored on the SteelFusion Edge Device in the ROBO. This decreases the deployment time by reducing the amount of data that needs to be sent over the link to get applications running and servers booted, only the essential files are sent and used. Deploying new applications and updates is now quicker and more efficient. 

A knock on effect of only sending the essential data in a shorter time period means the link isn’t saturated for long periods of time when new bulk transfers need to happen. And by using the Riverbed WAN optimization service, this traffic can have a Quality of Service rule attached to prevent even short periods slowness. 

The end result being agile business application deployment with no performance side effects.

Bring backups home under one roof

Regardless of hardware or software vendor, a backup at the ROBO is more often than not a fraught event; old hardware, manual intervention, tape shipping, connection issues… So what’s the solution?

SteelFusion natively syncs data between the ROBO and the DC on a 24/7/365 schedule, as soon as data is written at the ROBO it’s placed into a commit stream to get back to the DC as soon as is possible. This puts your ROBO projected data and DC source data within minutes of each other, so why not take advantage of having that data in the DC and use the DC backup infrastructure? 

ROBO backups are no longer limited to what can be done on site; they get the full advantage of a DC enterprise infrastructure and the support that goes with that.

The benefit to the business is that the critical business data is now synced between the ROBO and the DC automatically giving a first line of defence, and in addition to that, the data is all under one roof on mature and maintained backup and restore infrastructure.

The IT team is no longer losing hours each day on fire fighting skipped backups and tape shipping at the ROBO, instead it can be focused and available for projects and product development to help further the business.

Time is money

If a server and its application are lost at the ROBO site for whatever reason (hardware fault, disaster, theft etc.) how quickly can you replace the hardware, rebuild, restore, and get the application running again while the business is down? Days? Weeks!?

With SteelFusion it could be a matter of minutes.

With the server and application data constantly synced between the ROBO and DC, it’s simply a matter of reassigning the storage to the DC infrastructure, a few network tweaks, and the time it takes to boot up. That’s it.

The server OS, application files, and data are as they were before the ROBO went off line. The business is up and running again within minutes as no time is lost to rebuilds or restores; just reassign and boot. Once the ROBO is back online it’s as simple as reversing the procedure to project the server and its applications back out; no rebuilds or restores. Downtime to the business is minimal, and perhaps more importantly, no reputations are damaged. 

Solutions, solutions, solutions

IT is growing up, and the days of an expensive cost center where no one is quite sure what they deliver are fading fast. Lines of business are now squarely focused on maximizing delivery and IT is playing the pivotal role in supplying those solutions. 

Trying to improve on the same old methods and tactics will work to a degree, but eventually the business needs will outstrip what they can deliver and it will be time for a change. ‘Best of breed’ doesn’t deploy an application quickly, and ‘switching the vendor’ without changing the method doesn’t change the result. 

SteelFusion is the only HCI solution that brings flexibility, adaptability, and change to the ROBO. It’s not a play on a server infrastructure; it’s a brand new way of thinking and working that’s in sync with the lines of business.

To find out more, visit the Zero Branch IT website.


Comments are closed.