Somewhere between the physical and the virtual
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“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There is a lot to be said for simplicity, especially when it comes to IT management. Fewer, more centralized systems mean less complexity. Less complexity means less cost and effort to ensure the infrastructure that your business needs to operate on a day-to-day basis is up and running. Truly a nice image.
One place this attractive vision tends to become tricky to achieve is in the remote or branch sites of organizations. Here, all of the challenges of server, desktop, application, and device management all come together where actual customers interact directly with the business, all wrapped up in a nice box labeled: “Have fun with that”.
These sites are by nature far from the loving embrace of HQ, connected with a smörgåsbord of bandwidths, and tend not to be highly staffed with IT professionals to make sure a local employee can’t follow through on the thought that that nice $40,000 server running the SQL databases for the all the local applications wouldn’t be better used as a host for his social networking start up, and thus open up access to the world. Also, there are a whole raft of business requirements in terms of (ever) changing business models that spin up their own infrastructure requirements (Picture the application management, data protection, configuration and security implications of the requirement to process orders onsite in the branch rather than centrally).
So what is the solution? Well a good place to start is remote infrastructure optimization (also known as "treating your branch sites as an equally important part of you infrastructure and developing a management strategy for it"). Ensuring that all the right patches are deployed, that you can monitor and fix all the different services that all you to have a working local order entry application working, and that all the data is actually being backed up so that the compliance police can actually get at it - all of these are components of the solution.
We’ve just completed a webcast on this very topic and I’d recommend reviewing the remote part of the infrastructure optimization model.
Henry had a point but he never had to manage 200 branch offices....
There's a great whitepaper on the Remote IO best practices on the link provided. Thanks for drawing my attention to it!
Duncan McAlynn, MVP