Virtualization is one way IT teams can support remote and branch offices without major time, technological or financial investments. The technology lets admins easily monitor and update virtual machines and servers without site visits -- which became a useful capability for organizations in 2020.
For a successful deployment, organizations must assess their remote management tools, adjust network bandwidth and automate remote office and branch office (ROBO) setups.
Invest in remote management systems
Pre-pandemic, IT personnel could visit remote office locations and troubleshoot any issues on site if necessary.
Without on-site visits, organizations require hardware and management offerings that extend central management features to remote locations; one option is cloud-based management systems that specifically manage ROBO sites.
VMware, Nutanix and Dell offer ROBO management product suites. Features include automated deployment of consistent VM images, enterprise system usage policy enforcement, automated system upgrades and system performance analytics.
During ROBO management tool selection, admins must consider how many virtual servers or VMs each site requires, outline any security concerns, encryption and network requirements, and decide if automation is useful for remote site deployment and VM spin-up.
Use SD-WAN to support increased network traffic
ROBO sites and remote work have different network system usage from in-office networks. When employees worked in an office, traffic was internal, from a desktop to the local server over a LAN.
For remote employees, WAN traffic increases and companies must provide employees who work at ROBOs with the necessary bandwidth, monitor those connections for security breaches and keep costs in line.
SD-WAN is one option to increase network visibility and have SD-branch integration, IoT connectivity, cloud connections and more bandwidth. The technology also makes it easier for admins to implement hybrid WAN at ROBO sites, which allows IT teams to manage traffic with both MPLS and broadband.
Hyper-converged systems as hardware support
Many ROBOs often have limited or no on-site IT staff. Therefore, the branch location servers to support virtualization must deploy easily. A company can purchase a hyper-converged system, which bundles multiple functions into one appliance and eliminates individual component configuration processes.
These systems include pre-configured compute clusters, SANs, storage arrays, IP networks, load balancers, hypervisors, WAN optimizers, cloud gateways and backup capabilities. With the right virtualization tools, admins can connect the system to a network and run a few commands to set up virtualized infrastructure for a ROBO site.
Embrace automation for smooth operations
Remote virtual server management can be time-consuming. As ROBO sites must continuously run without support staff, automation ensures all software versions and branch location virtual infrastructure is up to date.
Products that integrate automation can make ROBO configuration and support less time-consuming and less error-prone. They can also ease ROBO site management if teams cannot devote staff hours to VM spin-up, virtual server troubleshooting, security alerts or network allocation.
IT teams can invest in additional automated patch management platforms to meet automation requirements. These systems centralize virtual server management -- regardless of location. Admins can work from one console and use a few commands or a setup wizard to have all systems run the latest software versions.