In the wake of the economic downturn, many IT organizations have learned to remotely support branch offices without providing any local support staff by having the people in those offices access applications over a wide area network (WAN).
Now, Riverbed Technology is moving to enhance the performance of those applications with the release of version 3.0 of SteelFusion, a converged infrastructure offering that consolidates servers and storage access for remote offices.
Formerly known as Granite, SteelFusion essentially creates a virtual data center for a branch office by giving them access to virtual servers that are tightly integrated within a set of appliances that accelerate reads and writes to the storage area network (SAN) at the block level across a WAN.
Eric Carter, director of product marketing for Riverbed, says the combination of those two capabilities essentially creates a virtual data center that can be dedicated to serve the needs of a remote branch office while providing IT with the benefit of centralization.
Most branch offices today, says Carter, are often viewed as outposts of inefficiencies. SteelFusion 3.0 is intended to make those outposts more efficient from an IT perspective without compromising the end-user experience, says Carter.
Carter says the latest version of the SteelFusion appliance takes advantage of a faster controller and processors to provide support for up to 100TB data at speeds that are six times faster than the previous generation of Granite appliances. In addition, the latest version of the SteelFusion appliances exposes up to 1.6TB of tiered cache while increasing the amount of memory available in the appliance by a factor of three. A new branch recovery agent software tracks what data is associated with a particular virtual machine in the event of a recovery.
Consolidating IT operations across multiple branch offices is usually one of the first things IT organizations try to do these days to reduce costs. Unfortunately, it’s harder to accomplish than one might think. Riverbed, for example, reports that only 8 percent of branches that are fully consolidated and more than 50 percent of the data in the enterprise still resides in branch offices.
The challenge is finding a way to accomplish that goal without alienating the end users in the branch office to the point where they start to engage shadow IT services on their own. Once that balance is struck, it then becomes possible for the IT organization to have its proverbial cake and actually eat it too.