The branch reference architecture may refer to a small, self-contained office, or a satellite office of a larger company. The key considerations will vary slightly between the two.
Where the branch is linked to a larger parent company, many services such as security policies, posture assessment, storage and so on, will already have been implemented by the organisation’s central office. The challenges for the branch, therefore, become minimal. At the most basic level, the branch will require a form of connectivity back to the parent company, a local firewall and potentially a small amount of local networking. The branch may, or may not, have their own server on site.
Where the branch is a stand-alone office, there will be the additional requirement of a phone system, email and some form of storage as there is no parent company to provide this.
Why we’ve created the reference architecture?
A reference architecture may, at first, appear unnecessary for a relatively small and straightforward infrastructure such as the branch but, in reality, it serves as a fast and straightforward solution to what it a common and, often replicable, requirement.
The reference architecture will provide a strong solution for most branch environments, with a menu of options to choose from to customise specific requirements.
By using such a reference architecture, larger companies can also ensure consistency between each of the satellite offices, dramatically reducing support overheads in the process.
Which technologies have we chosen and why?
Our first option for networking in the branch environment is Juniper Networks. Juniper provide a relatively narrow range of switches suitable for the branch but they are high performing and competitively priced. Our high levels of expertise and strong relationship with Juniper also give us added confidence in the solution.
Our second networking option is HP who provide a much wider range of competitive products aimed at the branch environment. An excellent mix of services, features and performance enable us to be very flexible to the customer’s needs. Features such as fanless boxes can also be a real benefit for small offices where equipment is housed in the same room as the main working environment as they produce significantly less noise.
Branch offices generally have minimal resource available in terms of IT support so complexity and management overheads need to be kept to a minimum. Juniper’s SRX series provides excellent bundle of next-generation firewall features, performance and a straight-forward GUI, all for a reasonable cost.
As previously mentioned, satellite offices may already have these factors provisioned by their parent company. Standalone offices, on the other hand, will need to consider compute and storage along with other operational services such as phone systems and email.
Within our branch reference architecture, we recommend the use of cloud technology for each of these services. Cloud technology removes the capital expenditure away from the branch, replacing it with a fixed monthly cost on a revenue basis. Furthermore, cloud services are fully managed, negating the need for in-house support, and provide remote access to any users who need it. All systems are upgraded and backed up as part of the contract and they offer exceptional scalability. Smaller offices are often subject to growth and, billed on a per-user basis, cloud enables the quick and easy addition of users for greater flexibility.
Dell Wireless, powered by technology from Aruba, is our chosen solution in the branch environment. Aruba have been one of the market leaders in wireless for over a decade which, alongside our strong relationship with Dell, gives us great confidence in the solution.
|The solutions below form part of our Branch reference architectures.