Convergence data strategy should not forget the branches

The word “CONVERGENCE” is boiling over as the IT industry goes gaga over darlings like Simplivity and Nutanix, and the hyper-convergence market. Yet, if we take a step back and remove our emotional attachment from the frenzy, we realize that the application and implementation of hyper-convergence technologies forgot one crucial elementThe other people and the other offices!

ROBOs (remote offices branch offices) are part of the organization, and often they are given the shorter end of the straw. ROBOs are like the family’s black sheeps. You know they are there but there is little mention of them most of the time.

Of course, through the decades, there are efforts to consolidate the organization’s circle to include ROBOs but somehow, technology was lacking. FTP used to be a popular but crude technology that binds the branch offices and the headquarter’s operations and data services. FTP is still used today, in countries where network bandwidth costs a premium. Data cloud services are beginning to appear of part of the organization’s outreaching strategy to include ROBOs but the fear of security weaknesses, data breaches and misuses is always there. Often, concerns of the weaknesses of the cloud overcome whatever bold strategies concocted and designed.

For those organizations in between, WAN acceleration/optimization techonolgy is another option. Companies like Riverbed, Silverpeak, F5 and Ipanema have addressed the ROBOs data strategy market well several years ago, but the demand for greater data consolidation and centralization, tighter and more effective data management and data control to meet the data compliance and data governance requirements, has grown much more sophisticated and advanced.

Therefore, the entire data strategy and data management framework cannot realize its true potential without incorporating the remote offices’ and branch offices’ data as a Single Data Architecture Framework, as a ROBO data convergence strategy. In essence, excluding and delaying ROBOs’ data for consolidation surreptitiously violates data compliance requirements.

The biggest elephant in the room, so to say, is Storage. Storage and the data that it stores has to be close to the applications, to the compute layer. The latency of storage over an optimized network is still a problem today, even in the LAN. And that diminishes the user experience, and reduces the adoption of data strategies and architecture frameworks.

I have seen many ROBO convergence technologies, past and present, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Replication, be it at the application, host, network or storage level, is probably one of the most common ways to address the convergence data strategy. While IT vendors and marketers continue to pitch and hype their wares to the ROBO market, in reality, the user experience is just not there. This makes the data architects’ job difficult, because the adoption of a data architecture framework diminishes over time if the user experience sucks.

Technology Adoption Inverse of User Experience

In the 2 years or so, one technology stood out for me in the ROBO data convergence market and I have been wanting to research deeper into it. I procrastinated, and I am glad I did because the version 3.0 of that solution was released a couple months back. I also found that despite my procrastination, this is the best time to review that technology.

Riverbed released the first version of their Granite solution back in 2012. I was already very intrigued about Granite when I met with their Director of Technology in Singapore in December of 2012. The technology was very unique back then because I don’t think there was anyone who has something like it. It immediately popped up as a brilliant genius lightbulb to me.

And now, 2 years down the road, I still think they are pretty unique at least from an optimized and acceleration platform. The Granite aka SteelFusion solution is now addressing the ROBO convergence data strategy much more comprehensively. Riverbed has renamed Granite as SteelFusion now, with far greater capabilities and advanced features.

I am spending this weekend researching deeper into the technology of Riverbed SteelFusion, and will be sharing it with you in my next blog entry.

If there is one statement I would say about Riverbed SteelFusion right now, I would say “Brilliant, absolutely freaking brilliant!

About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 20+ years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because that is my area of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to *know the facts*, and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and as of October 2013, I have been appointed as SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I was previously the Chairman of SNIA Malaysia until Dec 2012. As of August 2015, I am returning to NetApp to be the Country Manager of Malaysia & Brunei. Given my present position, I am not obligated to write about my employer and its technology, but I am indeed subjected to Social Media Guidelines of the company. Therefore, I would like to make a disclaimer that what I write is my personal opinion, and mine alone. Therefore, I am responsible for what I say and write and this statement indemnify my employer from any damages.
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