Best practices for managing remote location IT

 

On average, today’s enterprises store 50% of their corporate data in remote and branch offices (ROBO), to which they dedicate a significant amount of their IT budget.

In practice, this means half of today’s IT organisations are using outdated methods of operation which are costly and more complex to manage.

Additionally, old infrastructure limits an IT department’s ability to proactively respond to the modern businesses’ ever-changing needs, prevent security breaches, and recover from unplanned outages.

With this in mind, enterprises are taking a fresh approach to branch IT, improving system performance and resiliency, ensuring reliable and regular data backups, and greatly reducing operational costs.

While equipping edge locations has traditionally been all about infrastructure that aims to make employees as productive as possible — enterprises are now asking themselves what it takes to manage their remote locations efficiently.

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What are the operational costs associated with their infrastructure? How is employee productivity and engagement affected by their decisions?

To tackle these queries, organisations should use the following checklist, which includes items relating to:

Infrastructure

What are the key traits of a modern edge infrastructure?

Operations

What are the costs associated with handling edge infrastructure?

Business values

How can organisations maximise their ROI?

Infrastructure

To ensure secure and efficient IT in remote and branch offices (ROBO), organisations should ensure the following when planning their infrastructure:

1. Ensure compute is separate from data: Modern infrastructure separates compute, which should remain at the edge, from data storage, which should be centralised.

This approach yields a stateless edge and eliminates many operational challenges and costs.

2. Centralise data storage: Organisations should store 100% of their company data in the data centre where it can be managed and protected.

From there, it can be projected to the edge on an as-needed basis. This removes sensitive information from vulnerable remote locations, and gives IT teams far more control over the data.

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3. Centralise backup: Edge-based backup can be expensive and error-prone.

Instead, data backups should be centralised in the data centre, and be automated and continuous. This will ensure backups are reliable and efficient, while significantly reducing costs.

4. Optimise the WAN: Wide area network (WAN) optimisation helps further streamline branch infrastructure by accelerating branch user applications and data traffic across the optimal networks at the lowest cost.

As WANs are notoriously unreliable and do not offer protection against the creation of localised pockets of systems and information stores, organisations should implement the use of specialised tools that enable the convergence of IT systems and applications with WAN optimisation technologies. In this way, they will achieve maximum performance across distance.

5. Encrypt all data: To help protect against cyber threats, all company data should automatically be encrypted at both when it’s at rest (both in branch offices as well as in data centres) and when it is being transported back and forth.

Operations

IT teams need to be able to quickly provision and manage edge infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective way. They can achieve this by ensuring the following:

6. Carry out fast provisioning: The IT team should be able to update edge locations with new applications and features, and provision a new edge location from the organisation’s central data centre in minutes — without costly and time-consuming onsite visits.

7. Ensure fast ROBO recovery: When an unplanned outage occurs, rapid recovery is a must to keep business operations up and running.

So that operations resume in minutes or hours and with minimal loss of working data, IT needs to be able to initiate the recovery process from the data centre.

8. Protect data: From an operational point of view, data encryption should be available at rest and in motion, and backups should be affordable, automatic, centralised, and continuous.

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9. Manage storage in the cloud: So as to avoid excessive storage costs and operational overhead, organisations should eliminate storage in edge locations, making them stateless edges.

A good way to achieve this is by taking advantage of cloud storage’s low costs.

Business values

In order to satisfy infrastructure related business needs, organisations need to ask themselves several questions: Does their infrastructure help them stay competitive and act quickly in the face of changing markets? Can the business satisfy customers’ needs around the clock? How can the organisation get products to market faster? How does your infrastructure investment drive business ROI?

10. Keep employees productive: IT can contribute to increasing employees’ productivity by enabling them to access applications, updated data and information, anytime, any place.

11. Achieve business continuity: If a disaster strikes, IT should be able to quickly recover data and applications. The team should also have the tools needed to shift operations to a different region without much loss of time or data.

12. Make the business agile: The organisation’s infrastructure should let the business respond to changing market conditions by quickly provisioning users with new applications and features.

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It should also provide the ability to quickly open new locations in order to take advantage of new opportunities.

Remote offices and branch offices are crucial to the modern business. As such, enterprises have to venture into a new era of technologies and ways of thinking when it comes to edge IT infrastructure.

In order to achieve operational cost savings, rapid service deployment, and instant recovery — all while providing unmatched data protection – IT needs to be able to visualise and understand what is happening across the business as a whole, and act accordingly.

By ensuring that the right tools and processes are in place, enterprises can ensure the security, resilience and flexibility they need to meet today’s business needs.

 

Sourced by Joe Bombagi, director of SteelFusion, EMEA and APJ, Riverbed Technology

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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