“Instant Everything” Poses 3 Unique Challenges for Datacenters at the Edge

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We live in a world where digital needs are more immediate than ever. We don’t just want results now, we expect them. We play games and download movies on-demand, share photos and upload videos almost instantly. We don’t even like waiting a few extra seconds for data to travel from the core datacenter to our digital devices. This expectation for “instant everything” is driving a change in where data resides, a shift from the datacenter to the edge.

To accommodate increased demand at the edge, remote office/branch office (ROBO) sites have evolved into modular datacenters. No longer limited to brick-and-mortar offices, edge sites can include scientific labs in the wilderness, manufacturing facilities, airplane cockpits, or IT closets on an oil rig or a cruise ship. These sites have unique challenges, and each challenge can increase costs significantly.

Challenge #1: Sizing and scaling at the edge

Poorly sized infrastructures are a notorious money drain. IT organizations rarely experience a budget surplus, yet business requirements demand the best technology available, which makes sizing even more important in datacenter modernization projects. When complex environments require a refresh, IT needs to estimate business growth rates and system requirements 2-3 years in advance to ensure sufficient data capacity and system performance. Too little capacity limits business growth; too much wastes money as components sit idle in the rack.

Accurate sizing becomes critical at the edge. Remote locations often have smaller budgets than the main office and very limited physical space. Organizations can run into literal walls when they attempt to modernize technology. Expanding physical facilities to accommodate new IT racks, if even possible, is expensive, and power and cooling costs for the additional devices quickly add up.

Challenge #2: Ongoing maintenance and management costs

With the increasing number of datacenters at the edge, it is not feasible to employ specialized IT staff with expertise in storage, servers, networking, and backup and recovery at every site, even for larger enterprises. While individual systems might be inexpensive up front, they are rarely cost effective in the long run. In fact, siloed systems can incur significant OPEX costs for ongoing maintenance and management, including travel and fees for multiple technology specialists, and downtime to synchronize systems.

Challenge #3: The cost of data protection

Fractured data protection strategies put data at risk, and that risk increases with the number of different methods at each site, such as backing up to tape or portable hard drives. Costs for specialists who are contracted to build and test DR plans can escalate if contractors are needed on-site to change tapes and keep backup apps compatible with servers and storage upgrades. For midsize businesses, these costs are prohibitive. If a remote site experiences a natural disaster or a cyberattack, these organizations have the additional costs of downtime and data loss.

How hyperconvergence keeps costs down at the edge

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) addresses every one of these challenges, and these compact systems are increasingly popular at the edge. Easy to deploy and scale, the most comprehensive hyperconverged solutions consolidate storage, servers, and advanced data services, including data protection, inside each node. That means IT only has one integrated system to manage, one solution to upgrade and maintain, and only one tech refresh cycle.

Organizations can start with as few as two nodes per location and scale out incrementally, expanding the system as needs grow and eliminating the cost of guessed-at future requirements. In an HPE SimpliVity infrastructure, hyperconverged devices at all sites are part of the same federation and can be monitored and managed together from a single interface by an IT administrator without specialized training. And multiple nodes protect data across the entire business, from core to edge, in case of a drive, node, cluster or site failure.

A recent study revealed how cost-effective HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged infrastructure can be for ROBO sites. Enterprise Strategy Group set up a use case study with a single remote office deployment and found that hyperconverged solutions provide a savings of 49% when compared with a traditional SAN. They then increased the deployments and discovered that the savings become greater as the number of sites grow. In total cost of ownership (TCO), efficiencies in HCI architecture were found to boost savings to as much as 55% in remote and branch office deployments.

With so much importance placed on data at the edge, organizations need a simple, cost-effective infrastructure that can grow with them and keep their data available, no matter where it resides. Learn more about HCI for remote datacenters in the Gorilla Guide to Hyperconverged Infrastructure.

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About Thomas Goepel

thomas goepel
Thomas Goepel is the Director Product Management, Hyperconverged Solutions for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In this role, he is responsible for driving the strategy of HPE’s Hyperconverged products and solutions spanning from the Infrastructure Components to the Management Software. Thomas has over 26 years of experience working in the electronics industry, the last 25 of which at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where he has held various engineering, marketing and consulting positions in R&D, sales and services.
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