Good news, bad news and more good news: How virtualization is streamlining branch offices.

They say, be careful what you wish for. A plant needs sunshine and water to grow but give it too much and the plant burns or withers. The same sort of predicament might be said of data center consolidation.

Over the last few decades, pulling the plug on inefficiently used servers in a variety of data centers and branch offices throughout an organization’s network and replacing them with a large number of x86 servers in a smaller number of data centers drove impressive economies of scale. That was the good news. The bad news was that these massive data centers turned out to be more complex to manage, consumed a lot of energy and depended on sophisticated planning to deal with unexpected loads.

That, of course, resulted in more good news in the form of server virtualization to address these challenges. Virtual servers could be provisioned more quickly than physical ones, they needed less space and power and they could be cloned, moved or clustered without service interruption.

 But server virtualization, you guessed it, has led to some challenges of its own, particularly at the branch office level. Though data center consolidation reduced the need for local servers, WAN link limitations in the form of speed and reliability meant that a small number of servers had to remain deployed at these leaner branches offices, running core Windows services, mission-critical business applications like POS or inventory management, and client management services. On the other hand, these leaner branch office servers aren’t generally robust enough to take advantage of server virtualization features at data centers – like virtual server mobility, dynamic provisioning and workload balancing, all of which need a big data-center infrastructure to work properly. Good news, bad news, indeed!

But it’s not all bad news, of course. There’s actually enough good news to go around for branch offices in terms of how server virtualization can come to the rescue and solve branch-office-specific challenges:

  •  Lower infrastructure and operating costs: Even with the branch office’s smaller scale, dedicating a virtual server for each application, all hosted on one physical server, results in a smaller infrastructure footprint, optimized energy consumption, faster maintenance and (surprise!) costs savings.
  • Less application downtime and quicker response time: By isolating applications but hosting them on one operating system, actions of one application won’t have an impact on the rest of the system. That allows for shorter planned and unplanned downtime, and a guaranteed level of responsiveness for all branch office applications.
  • Faster time to deploy applications: Dedicating a virtual server to an application allows for faster implementation of changes for existing applications and shorter time to deploy new ones.

So what’s the bottom line? Net-net, branch office virtualization turns out to be a good news story. It increases the speed of application deployment, improves application uptime and performance guarantees, and reduces equipment and operating costs.

For more on how server virtualization enables new capabilities in the branch office, click here. And to learn more about simplifying branch office infrastructure, visit here.

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About Anthony Rossi

Anthony is an experience IT professional with a diverse product knowledge of networking, including routing, switching, wireless, security, voice, virtualization and storage.