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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Strength of Granite, with David Greene, Riverbed Technology

April 29, 2013 No Comments

There is no question that enterprises today are generating more and more data with custom applications that are running in global locations.

In the below interview, David Greene from Riverbed technology offers expert advice for organizations looking to quickly, economically, and efficiently secure and protect data in the data center while ensuring that branches have the performance and resource availability required to successfully conduct business.

  • Q. How did you see the geospatial nature of business today changing the data storage needs of organizations around the world?

A. As growing enterprises seek to reach new markets they continue to aggressively expand the roles and numbers of branch offices. In these distributed locations there are often applications, services, and data required locally to successfully serve prospects and customers.  This typically translates into locally-installed server and storage infrastructure and with it the appropriate protection mechanisms such as backup or replication. Technology market research firm IDC projects IT spending in branch locations to reach $32 billion in 2013 (IDC, Datacenter Transformation and Its Impact on Branch IT, September 2012). This spending is occurring even despite the trend of centralization and consolidation of IT assets to data centers to ensure control and security.

  • Q. What are the key benefits of consolidating data from the branch office to the data center, and how is this particularly beneficial for remotely located branches?

A. Most IT organizations would prefer to address IT needs by investing in the data center rather than in additional infrastructure at remote sites. The data center provides greater control, economies of scale, and security while remote locations represent more risk, challenges, and expense due to distance and often lack of onsite IT staff. The ability to manage, secure and protect data in the data center while ensuring branches have the performance and resource availability required to successfully conduct business – even in the event of a WAN outage – is the best of all worlds. Granite makes this possible.

  • Q. During the presentation at Riverbed’s April 17th event, it was mentioned that when a branch data center crashes, it can take an average of 168 hours to get that branch back up and running normally. How does Granite have the capability to do this in a fraction of the time?

A. With Granite, organizations are able to consolidate data as well as entire branch servers  – now virtualized – to the data center.  Granite boot-over-the-WAN optimization which includes intelligent prediction and prefetch capabilities, enables virtual servers stored and managed in the data center to be locally executed in a branch location. The Granite Edge appliance features VMware vSphere virtualization technology, enabling virtual servers to run directly on the same, single hardware footprint.   In the event of a failure or disaster, the restoration of service to the branch location becomes a much simpler proposition – a new edge device can be installed, reconnected to data center storage, and an edge server can be rebooted and made available in minutes.  In this way, Granite enables instant branch provisioning and recovery that was not possible when managing physical servers, storage and backup at the edge.

View related blog post here

  • Q. At the event, David Giambruno, CIO at Revlon, mentioned that he now has the ability to “have Revlon fully globally patched in 17 minutes” with Granite. How is Granite facilitating this?

A. With Granite, the ability to centrally manage storage, combined with a virtualization hypervisor and management tools from VMware, servers within the four walls of the data center. Compare this with the same practice that was previously required to be performed in potentially hundreds if not thousands of individual locations across the WAN.   With Granite, once the IT team has completed the patch process, branch servers are reattached and rebooted into service within minutes in remote locations.

  • Q. How is the cost of entry with Granite up to 50% cheaper than with previous data storage solutions?

A. Prior to the Granite architectural approach, to deliver services and enable local performance required by edge users, organizations were often forced to purchase, provision, and support servers, storage and backup in each remote location. With Granite, organizations can reduce the complexity of what is required in the branch, consolidating storage, eliminating the need for a remote backup solution in each branch, and delivering required compute and WAN optimization resources in a single appliance.  Granite  further lowers the operational costs of branch IT by enabling centralized management of tasks that once required either a local IT resource, or a “fly-and-fix” visit from a corporate resource in the event something required attention in the branch. Additionally, with data protected and secured in a central data center, organizations benefit by removing the potential business and reputation impact of data loss and security breaches.

  • Q. How can Granite help organizations overcome IT transformation issues associated with speed, agility, and the ever evolving role of IT?

A. Granite enables a new and disruptive architectural approach that allows enterprises to present data-center-managed storage, servers, and applications as if they’re local in remote locations. Organizations have invested heavily in software-defined data centers in an effort to become much more agile and service oriented. Granite gives IT organizations the ability to service the needs of remote locations much more quickly from the data center with far less management overhead and at lower cost.  This applies equally to meeting requirements of new front-line locations with new applications and data requirements.  Now, needed services are quickly prepared in the data center and projected to any WAN connected location, whenever required.  Granite provides a much needed link between the data center and globally distributed operations, enabling IT organizations to more easily take on the role of a nimble services organization that can respond quickly to business requirements whether they be at a headquarters location or half way around the world in a remote, hard to reach location.

  • Q. Do you feel that our country is in need of a nationwide replacement of back up? And is Granite the necessary solution?

A. Backup is a critical technology that helps ensure the availability of valuable corporate data assets.  Significant advances in backup technologies have taken place of the past decade that help ensure the process of backup is fast, efficient, secure, and cost-effective. This includes capabilities such as off-host snapshot and proxy-based protection, deduplication storage, and cloud-based backup (e.g., Amazon Glacier with Riverbed Whitewater).

Our assertion is that the backup data protection process is best handled within a state-of-the-art data center rather than left to more-often-than-not imperfect tape-based equipment and processes managed by unskilled personnel in branch locations.  By enabling the consolidation of servers and storage to the data center it is no longer necessary to manage a backup solution in each individual location. By shifting backup to one central location, organizations are able to move away from the costly and often risk practice of branch backup.

  • Q. Can you please give us a few examples of how current Riverbed clients have creatively utilized Granite to increase business value and move forward?

A. Customer Alamos Gold is a gold mining company that operates mining sites in remote, rugged areas that require access to services and data. At each site, huge volumes of data are generated by geological engineers. Traditional IT infrastructure and practices were unsuitable for the mining locations due to physical conditions and the scarcity of proper IT resources. Ideally the needs of the site would be served with a minimal of equipment. Additionally, to properly conduct its business operations, the company required data from the mines to be sent back to business headquarters in Toronto; however, latent and unreliable WAN links in-region prevented real-time digital transmission.  This resulted in a practice of shipping data on disks between continents – a 3-4 day process –  a time lag that prevented real-time business collaboration and compromised site DR. With Granite, Alamos Gold was able to avoid the costs of deploying servers, storage, and backup at each mine site. Engineers are able to save the data locally at LAN speed – even if the WAN is down – and Granite efficiently manages the transmission of data back to the Toronto data center when connectivity is active. The company gains access to remote data much more quickly, is able to manage the solution from the central location where ample talent is available, and now benefits from improved DR readiness.

View customer story here

Customer Paul Hastings, an international law firm, grew to 19 offices across Asia, Europe, and the U.S and as a result found itself managing IT infrastructure in multiple locations around the globe. The IT architecture of physical host servers and tape backup systems, at each remote site ensured performance at remote offices, however it was costly and required a manager and one or two analysts to maintain. Additionally, in some regions, the data was not as secure as the firm wanted. With Granite, the firm is able to remove data storage and backup from remote offices, and manage it instead in one of the firm’s secure data centers. Data is delivered to the application servers in the offices via the WAN with no loss in performance. The Granite deployment has improved data security by removing storage and backup media from remote offices and enabling data to be centrally managed. Granite saves the firm money because there are fewer data centers to staff and fewer servers and storage systems to buy and maintain.

View customer story here

When faced with the requirement to refresh its branch locations, rather than spend budget on a business as usual approach to delivering branch IT, GeoEngineers, an earth science, engineering, and technology consulting firm, chose to deploy a consolidated approach with Granite. The firm previously relied on two local servers in each branch to deliver the services, data and backup needed to ensure the productivity of its engineering staff.  With Granite, the firm is able to store data in the data center and project CAD and GIS files over the WAN to local offices without impacting the end-user experience. Granite enables the elimination of multiple physical hardware units in remote offices along with the associated maintenance costs and gives them greater control in the data center along with improved recoverability.

View customer story here

View customer video here



David Greene 150x150 IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: The Strength of Granite, with David Greene, Riverbed Technology

David Greene joined Riverbed Technology as chief marketing officer in March 2012 and is in charge of the go-to-market strategy for the growing Riverbed product portfolio.

Prior to joining Riverbed, Greene served as vice president of worldwide marketing for BMC Software¹s over $2B IT management software business. Prior to BMC, he held a number of executive marketing positions at Active Reasoning, a pioneer in data center automation, Exodus Communications,, and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ).

Greene has over 20 years of executive and hands-on experience in all aspects of technology marketing. He holds bachelor¹s degrees in architecture and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.

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