Can I Get a Witness? Making Edge Computing Sites Truly Autonomous

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solves many problems that have historically plagued data center administrators: clutter, management complexity, and high upgrade and maintenance costs created by multiple Ethernet boxes, servers, and storage arrays. Hyperconvergence eliminates those elements by combining data center functions into a single node.

As such, HCI is ideal for the unstaffed edge computing sites, which can number in the thousands as part of a single network. As companies implement edge environments, IT managers turn to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and IT solution providers with questions like these: “My CIO wants me to implement a separate edge micro datacenter in each of our branches by the end of this month. How can I install and maintain these sites located in such a wide territory? “

These “from the trenches” questions present an opportunity for IT solution providers to add significant value and cement their role as trusted advisors by remotely providing and managing hyper-converged edge sites. It is also a great opportunity to adapt the business to a fast growing market. In fact, a recent IDC survey revealed that 40% of end users plan to outsource their cutting edge initiatives, making this a fast growing market opportunity for IT solution providers.

Maintain the resilience of Edge Computing sites

So what are customers really thinking about when it comes to edge computing sites? It’s about reliability. The top priority at the edge is to keep everything running smoothly. After all, edge computing networks support mission-critical applications. They are essential for digital transformation as organizations leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced technologies to gain agility and improve the customer experience. Even when there is an interruption in a site’s connection to the wide area network (WAN) or external infrastructure, it is important to keep the site up and running.

Today, HCI solutions are two-node systems that can run one micro data center or edge site providing processing, storage, data protection and power backup. However, these two-node systems require a third node or “witness” to achieve data consistency across the clustered file system in HCI. The witness, which operates remotely at a third site, maintains consistency across the cluster even if one of the nodes goes offline. But this approach is expensive, especially when multiplied by all the sites on an edge network.

Affordable innovation

To address this challenge, Schneider Electric and Cisco have partnered to deliver cost-effective innovation that drives reliability at the edge. Now, Cisco HyperFlex 2-nodeTM Solutions can have a local / connected witness, without the cost of another compute node. Token functionality is built into the latest generation of APC’s Network Management Card (NMC). This card is inserted into the back of the APC uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that supports the cluster at an edge site. The combination of a token-built NMC with HyperFlex helps avoid downtime during a power outage, as the UPS helps keep peripheral clusters running.

This Cisco-validated Local / Connected Witness keeps costs low and eliminates the need for cloud-based quorums by placing this critical functionality in the NMC. It is the only solution on the market that offers this functionality. Makes an HCI truly a full edge solution because a third node, physical or cloud-based, is no longer required for a two-node solution, and there is no dependency on WAN.

For added protection against power outages beyond the duration of the UPS backup, an orderly shutdown of physical servers and virtual machines can be performed. To consider UPS management software working in conjunction with the NMC to achieve this. The result is a reduction in application-level inconsistencies and downtime caused by prolonged power outages.

This is great news for IT solution providers. Innovations like UPS Management Software and Local / Connected Witness provide the tools to ensure availability and resilience for customers with edge deployments. IT solution providers can even help their clients with the complete solution management cyclefrom design to procurement and delivery of ongoing remote services. This frees up the customer’s IT staff to focus on more basic functions in their roles.

Start Strengthening Edge Computing Sites

Customers are looking for IT solution providers who can solve their problems and offer the latest innovative solutions, especially for their growing distributed IT environments. Additionally, IT solution providers need access to the latest technology and innovation to make their own jobs easier. Delve into Local / Connected Witness functionality by reviewing this application note or reading a recent blog post further highlighting technology and benefits. Also, take a look at Schneider Electric and Cisco Alliance site to discover the various integrated solutions that simplify deployments and edge management.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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