IT's Final Frontier - No More "Remote" Sites

Remote offices/users have always been a pain in the rump for IT. Even when IT could legislate/mandate what devices, network, VPN, access control, security, etc. were to be used by the remote user, it was still a pain. Something goes wrong out in the Podunk plant, and some poor office manager has to deal with an IT guy a billion miles away over the phone trying to troubleshoot the issue while 187 people are now totally unproductive.

Fast forward to today, and it's a thousand times worse. Now IT can't legislate/mandate anything. Users want access to their data from their iPad, phone, tomato soup can, etc. You can't tell them anything - except "NO!" Guess what? They don't like that.

Since a four year old is now more than competent to surf anywhere they wish on a McDonalds happy meal toy device, it's hard for IT to control grown-ups.

"But, you don't understand, Mr. Remote Executive, if you don't do it my way, we can't back it up, and when you inevitably delete it because you are a moron, you won't be able to get it back - then you'll tell my boss's boss that I suck, and I'll take the heat." Think that slows him down? Nope.

"But you don't understand, Ms. Podunk, when you leave your iPad in the Starbucks with every single employee's name, social security number, bank account, routing number, 401k password, and photo ID on it, the company is put at a significant risk!" Whoopdie doo, IT boy, deal with it.

"But you don't understand, Code Man, when you use Box or Dropbox or whatever to keep all your double secret code on because you want to 'collaborate' with that girl you met on the internet who seems to live in Bulgaria, there is nothing IT can do to protect/secure that asset!!" Not my issue, man.

This is the new reality IT has to deal with. You can't fix dumb, my friends.

Thus, you have to deal with it. You need to give the user what they want - access to their (and often others') data, from wherever they are, on whatever they want to use, whenever they want it. You have to do it such that it's completely secure, and totally protected. You have to "enable" their productivity. You have to do it without LEGISLATING or MANDATING. In short, you have to do it all without them even knowing you are doing it.

The good news is you now can. Here are a few examples of how:

By putting a lightweight remote proxy file server out in the remote office, like Nasuni, IT can effectively extend the reach of whatever is in the core data center - and give local access to every single remote. Think of it as adding the world's longest ethernet cable to your filers. No more "walls" of the organization when it comes to IT. Works with Active DIrectory, so nothing changes in the overall architecture or methodology. It's like your remote office was just relocated to the 3rd floor of the main building. Users access via whatever mobile device they want. IT maintains control of backup and security. Fun for all.

Druva is a little company that does this kind of stuff too. They will automatically back up any remote device without you knowing it. They can remotely wipe out the device Ms. Podunk leaves in Starbucks.

I continue to love Content Raven for the same reason - they can not only guarantee they can wipe out a piece of CONTENT (yes, that granular), but can also guarantee that only certain people/devices can ever even see it to begin with. Regardless of where you or they are.

Riverbed has extended plays here too.

This whole phenomenon is brought to you by two juggernaut forces - 1. The connectivity of the cloud and 2. The simplicity of end devices. It creates beauty and chaos at the same time. Mayhem and merriment.

So to conclude this delightful ditty, my suggestion is to stop focusing on the micro issues and think systemically. Don't focus on solving a problem at the remote - focus on eliminating the remote as a source of problems. Bring them into the fold. If I can be sold fake Viagra from Shanghai in real time, I sure should be able to consider my colleague in Cleveland as if he were right next to me.

Who wins and who loses when this inevitably plays out? Interestingly the big potential winners are the core storage guys. Today, EMC (HDS, DELL, HP, IBM, NTAP, etc.) sell a zillion PB to ABC company in their main data center for a billion dollars. But ABC has 987 remote offices, and EMC (HDS, DELL, HP, IBM, NTAP, etc.) doesn't sell into 977 of them. Instead they buy Dell servers with direct attached storage - a ton of them. If the core storage guys can legitimately extend the access to the remotes, then Dell doesn't sell those servers (or IBM, HP, etc. - you get the point). If Dell was winning the storage, then it may be a wash - but guys like EMC, HDS, and NTAP are going to be more than happy to divert those millions of dollars they aren't currently able to participate in right back into their core. Talk about private cloud.


Hey NFL, enough with the bozo referees. You make a trillion bucks a year, pay the real guys. It's embarrassing.

If your PR company sends me an e-mail that begins "We recently learnt........" it will reflect badly on you. I consider you a bigger moron than the moron who sent that to me. And I consider him a super moron.

You know it's bad when Jesse Ventura makes more sense then any of the mainstream politicians.

I'm very sad that boating season has come to an end for me. I find I am a better person on the water. With a cocktail. In the sun.....

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure Data Protection Networking