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Is vSphere ROBO a better option than the cloud?

Running workloads in the public cloud may be tempting, but there may be times that VMs on local servers in a branch office is a better choice.

Virtualization has emerged as an important enabling technology for many data centers, but there are countless organizations that rely on branch and remote offices for daily business operations. The VMware vSphere Remote Office Branch Office (vSphere ROBO) edition is one option for companies who need to run particular workloads off-site, but the cost and convenience of the public cloud may be a tempting alternative.

Public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and others are options with strong appeal for companies that may not have enough resources to handle all the additional virtualized workloads. But public cloud deployments are subject to a variety of concerns including WAN connectivity (such as bandwidth, latency and reliability), service reliability (such as public cloud outages) and corporate regulatory compliance issues such as workload geolocation and data security.

For example, latency-sensitive workloads like retail transaction systems may perform better when run from local servers rather than the cloud where distant network connections can introduce hundreds of milliseconds into each packet transfer. Some organizations may be in a better position to identify and respond to service disruptions -- such as a defective server -- than the cloud provider. As another example, a WAN or cloud outage might severely impact a business that depends on a mission-critical database, but running that database locally could mitigate the potential impact of WAN or cloud disruptions.

It is certainly possible to alleviate the burden of some remote workloads by running those virtual machines in the public cloud. However, it is important to understand the business importance of each workload and determine the risks of hosting that workload in the cloud; it's a case-by-case evaluation. Low-priority or lightly used workloads can usually be deployed to the cloud in an economic manner, and the business will not be measurably disrupted if those workloads become unavailable for prolonged periods. If the business depends on high availability or uptime, it's typically better to continue hosting the workloads on local servers running on vSphere ROBO.

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