Multi-Site retail operations have one ideal objective: to have a steady flow of purchasing customers entering their stores while maintaining continuous staff productivity.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. In the real world staff can be lazy, customers can be cheap, and systems can go down. You can hire better staff and over time you may even build a great team, you could get more customers in your branches with effective advertising, but what about your systems? That’s a little more challenging.
Retail operations rely on their point-of-sale (POS) and computer systems to do business. If business-critical applications fail, their branchs could be non-productive for hours or days. Traditionally this can be avoided by implementing physical SAN/NAS storage hardware at each branch to hold the business-critical information so that if a server fails the data is still recorded and accessible.
However this approach can be expensive to implement and maintain and requires a technically trained staff to manage, making it beyond the resources of retailers operating often on razor-thin margins in such markets as retail groceries.
Fortunately a l;ess expensive alternative now exists. Storage Virtual Appliances (SVA) leverage the internal disk drives of ESX/i servers to create a virtual SAN. An SVA mirrors the data between servers to ensure two or more contain identical information. This mirroring ensures that if one server fails business-critical information/applications (such as POS, reports, e-mail) will always be available through tools such as VMware High Availability;.
One of the biggest benefits of an SVA is that it does not require technically trained staff locally and if the solution has a fault or a server fails, information and applications will still be available while the fault is resolved and managed from the central office. A physical solution such as a SAN is responsible for all the information and business critical applications, so if it goes down so does the branch. This often requires an IT administrator to visit the branch or an outsourced storage specialist which can lead to unnecessary down time and heavy costs.
Action Item: By implementing a storage virtual appliance into your branches, you are securing those branches against future down time and ensuring that business critical applications can continue uninterrupted. DOWNLOAD: The Affordable Multi-Site Management Kit
Footnotes: Steven Santini