The next phase of consolidated IT has hit the scene and it's called edge virtual server infrastructure, aka edge-VSI. It's a lot like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) but meant to help IT centralize and consolidate servers and storage from edge locations to the data center, yet project these resources to the edge of the enterprise as if it were local.
Not only is the expense of managing physical hardware at the edge now eliminated, users can quickly read and write to data managed thousands of miles away.
Let's put this into context. Despite the success of massive consolidation initiatives enabled by server and storage virtualization and wide area network (WAN) optimization technologies, most businesses still maintain server and storage infrastructure in remote and branch locations. Why? When you peel back the onion what you find is that while most businesses would like to centralize all of their IT infrastructure into a few data centers, the reality is that the demands of custom and write-intensive applications, the need to work with large data sets that defy acceleration over a WAN, and the concern of user productivity in the face of WAN outages have required compute and storage resources to be maintained at the edge.
The deployment of storage and servers closer to users solves availability and performance challenges, but managing infrastructure at the edge comes at a cost, increasing the IT support burden and introducing risk to valuable corporate data assets managed outside the four walls of the data center. IT leaders are left with some major concerns to deal with including security and protection of data as well as the general availability of the resources needed by the edge location.
Given the necessity in these distributed business environments to utilize local applications, it would seem that complete consolidation to the data center is a pipe dream. It is in the midst of these seemingly unsolvable scenarios that innovation is typically born, as is the case with edge-VSI.
Again, edge-VSI decouples storage from its server, enabling virtualized servers, applications, and data to be brought back to the data center, yet be projected back out to edge locations where compute resources deliver application performance as if the storage is still local to the server - even over thousands of miles. In other words, edge-VSI brings organizations one step closer to a stateless branch office architecture where application performance is local for all transactions yet IT is able to manage, backup, provision, patch, expand, and protect the virtual servers and data within the four walls of the data center.
But edge-VSI is more than simply projecting centralized data over long distance. It provides predictive intelligence to transfer storage blocks from the data center to the edge in a way that enables seamless performance - just as it was with local disk. As users interact with applications and create new data at edge locations, the solution acknowledges data writes locally and accelerates the transfer back to the data center across the WAN. Similarly, applications at the edge can continue to operate locally without delay even in the event of a link outage, ensuring that all data is sent to the data center seamlessly when the link is re-established.
How this approach works is fairly straightforward. An organization begins by virtualizing edge servers required in the branch and migrating them back to the data center. An appliance in the data center projects these centralized resources to the edge where an edge appliance presents the resources locally, including the ability to boot across the WAN. This means that for the first time, organizations are able to fully utilize data center-class resources, including storage, backup and recovery, and management tools, yet still meet the performance requirements of applications and end users in their remote locations.
The analogy with VDI continues when looking at the benefits of edge-VSI:
Where the similarities end between edge-VSI and VDI, however, is that the total cost of ownership with this new approach is proving to be 20 to 50 percent lower compared to business-as-usual approaches of managing edge IT infrastructure. This is very good news for organizations that are looking to centralize, consolidate, and control more of their global IT infrastructure.