Everybody is jumping on the data center consolidation bandwagon again. It never really went away, it just took a leisurely Sunday drive through the countryside for a few years before turning back up on the streets of busy data centers everywhere.

RELATED LINKS This time, it's virtualization that's driving consolidation, and this time it appears that the movement may actually have a better chance at success.
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Server Virtualization versus Server Virtualization

Telecommute your way to a greener bottom line
The original intent of data center consolidation was to remove the expense of managing remote servers at physically disjunct offices. Often there was very little technical support available at these remote locations, making troubleshooting - even with remote desktop access to the servers - a difficult and painful task. Resolving outages and other issues often requires a physical presence, which meant increased travel costs.

The problem with consolidation is that remote employees still need to access core applications, like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP  (Enterprise Resource Planning)  and call center applications.

These applications often access data that is considered by multiple industry regulations to be personally identifiable and sensitive in nature, requiring that the data be secured in transit.

Securing data in transit can be accomplished, through web applications at least, by enforcing the use of SSL for all such applications. But it often the case that doing so can inhibit performance of those applications at corporate headquarters as well as for those accessing the application remotely, which can decrease productivity. Decreases in productivity ultimately cost the organization real dollars, which would certainly offset the benefits and savings seen by consolidation efforts in the first place.

A better option is to provide secure remote access to corporate resources via an SSL VPN to those remote offices. An SSL VPN can offer as much or as little access to corporate resources (file shares, applications, etc...) as desired by the organization without sacrificing performance. That's because a well-designed SSL VPN includes SSL accelerated hardware to assist in the encryption and decryption of data, which means less of a degradation of performance for remote employees and no degradation for employees accessing those same applications via the LAN.

An SSL VPN can further extend the ability of traveling or roaming employees to access critical business applications when necessary, as they are not as restrictive as IPSEC VPNs. Because SSL VPN technology utilizes an on-demand client model, there's no need to manage or troubleshoot remote endpoint clients. The endpoint clients are downloaded on-demand, which supports a dynamic environment that can expand or contract with organizational policy immediately. No need for lengthy rollouts or scheduled installations.

Consolidation is driven by the need to reduce operating costs across a wide variety of areas including power consumption, heating, cooling, and maintenance. An SSL VPN can extend that model out to remote offices while simultaneously providing the security necessary - and in many cases legislated - to offer remote access to core organizational applications.


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