VMworld 2010: TA8661 Deploying vSphere in a ROBO Environment

This posting will give a global overview of the presentation called TA8661 Deploying vSphere in a ROBO Environment given at VMworld 2010 in Copenhagen.

The presentation was given by two VMware employees from the UK; Paul Nothard and Rob Upham. It discussed the options and challenges of deploying vSphere in a remote office or branch office. A couple of customers of Paul and Rob have small offices, like shops or postoffices. For deployment of IT several options are available:

  1. install ESX on a couple of hosts and have vCenter Server manage hosts and virtual machine from within the branch office
  2. install ESX on a couple of hosts and centally manage hosts and VM’s using vCenter Server running in a datacenter
  3. centralized computing in which no servers are located in the branch office.

For management option 3 is the best option. All data and applications are securely running in the datacenter. However not all application are ready to run in a datacenter over sometimes small bandwidth connections. Some offices are actually retail shops with Electronic Point of Sales (EPOS) systems.

To have vCenter Server running in all remote offices would be expensive because of licensing and also not ideal for management.

Option 2 would be the best, and option 3 should be the target for the future.

Several challenges exist when vCenter Server is used from a central location. Deploying the vCenter Server agent to the ESX hosts will consume some bandwidth for a limited time.  Some retail shops are so limited in available bandwidth that deploying the agent during opening hours could lead to problems with for example the EPOS system. So be carefull with that.

For regular management there are hardly any issues using a central vCenter Server instance over relative low bandwidth connections (128 Kbps). Deployment of updates and patches using vCenter Update Manager can be a challenge as updates will need to be downloaded to every ESX host. Using a PowerShell script multiple downloads of the same patches can be avoided. See the script at Rob Upham site http://wirey.com/2010/03/patching-esxi-using-powercli/

The vSphere Essentials for Retail and Branch Offices is probably VMware’s best kept secret. Available since January 2010 this edition is a cost effective solution for rolling out vSphere in branch offices. It enables the license to install 3 hosts with 2 CPU’s each on 10 different branch offices. The ESX hosts can be managed using a central vCenter Server standard instance.

Read more about the Essentials for Retail and Branch Offices here https://up2v.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/managing-vsphere-4-1-cost-effective-in-remote-offices-and-branch-offices-robo/

About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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