What is a Golden Image

A golden image – known as a master image by some – is a pre-defined combination of operating system, applications and configurations. It is usually deployed in to a virtual machine and serves as a template for the time-efficient deployment of virtual networks. In addition, golden images can also be designed for use on physical servers, desktops PCs and other such devices.

Golden Image Benefits in Retail

Golden images are an integral part of a software-defined strategy for retail store roll-out and maintenance. With a software-defined approach, retailers are no longer held back by physical constraints, such as hardware, store downtime and the cost of technician visits.

Deploy system updates

Rolling out an update across all devices in your retail environment can be time-intensive; requiring technicians to visit each and every store to implement the update. In some cases, such as the conversion to Microsoft POSReady7, it can entail replacing perfectly functional hardware simply due to compatibility issues, which can be costly. A software-defined approach allows for any updates to be rolled out remotely, resulting in considerably less time and money expenditure.

Add new applications and software configurations

Retail is now in a state of perpetual change, locked in a race to meet the ever-rising expectations of the 21st century consumer. In order to compete, retailers are expected to continuously roll out new methods for in-store checkout, payment, personalization and customer care. As with software updates, this would typically include physically adding such features in person to each and every device across every store. Using golden images significantly reduces the cost and time of site technician visits.

Manage all devices from one centralized cloud management platform

A key component of Software Defined Store is the Intelligent Control Plan, which features a mechanism for defining and testing new builds in a QA ICP environment. Subsequently, the build can be deduplicated, compressed and distributed.

Reduce store downtime

Most importantly, the ability to remotely manage, update and repair can radically reduce store downtime, due to fewer and shorter technical visits, and no update failures. Retailers that do not apply a software-defined strategy typically have to put up with downtime from maintenance, updating and hardware failure, negatively affecting day-to-day revenue, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Find out more about the cost of downtime.

The True Inconvenience of Downtime in C-Stores:

How to Avoid Reboots, Shutdowns and More

Golden Image Best Practices

Build and test

When creating the golden image, it may make sense to use the latest version of an application and operating system. Not only does this ensure that the virtual machines will be consistent across the board, it also provides an opportunity to thoroughly test the software before rolling out to site.

Building a golden image is about selection of the correct software, configuring it for the specific use case, and then testing both compatibility and security, before committing it to use.

Maintain a golden image update schedule

Applications and operating systems are able to update themselves to the latest software version (or can be updated by IT tools such as Microsoft SCCM). It is therefore not usually necessary to keep a golden image up to date with every small patch that comes out. The overhead of creating and distributing the new image is simply not worth the time.

However, it is important to create new golden images for larger software updates, or to roll-up several weeks’ worth of patches. Doing so can significantly reduce installation time for new systems, as fewer application and operating system updates need to be downloaded and applied.

Keep the image as simple as possible

A golden image is usually intended to deliver an application for a specific use case. It is not delivering a ‘general purpose’ operating system – The exception is, perhaps, when delivering virtual desktops to end users.

When creating and maintaining a golden image, it makes sense that the images themselves should not be overly complicated, nor include unnecessary software packages or operating system features. The more complicated the image is, the more time and effort have to be invested in maintaining it. Also, reducing the ‘footprint’ of the golden image improves system security by removing functions that could otherwise be a source of exploits.

Assigning unique ID

In addition to the consistent software and configuration, one other thing is needed: A way to assign identity. When a golden image is installed in a virtual machine it is a clone of the original, source image. But to operate in each virtual machine it is deployed to, it must adopt an identity.

As far as the operating system is concerned, identity can be as simple as assigning a unique ID (UUID) and host name. For the application, assigning identity may be much more complex, needing to consider the location and role of each individual virtual machine.

Once a plan for assigning identity is understood, it can be automated. Typically, a ‘run once’ script does housekeeping work like this during the first boot of the Virtual Machine after the golden image has been deployed.

Don’t get complacent when it comes to security.

Network virtualization brings with it a number of security benefits, due to the way that information is stored and distributed.

This does not mean, however, that every precaution should not be taken. It’s best to apply all security measures to the golden image.

FAQ

Why is Software Defined Edge important?

What it takes to win in retail is changing. In an era of new expectations of speed, unique consumer experiences and the importance of the omni-channel, winners must deliver a superior experience, more services and faster innovations at the retail edge. Today, retailers are confronted with a hostile and dynamic environment in their branches and stores, with ever increasing demand to roll out new customer experiences, while at the same time reducing costs and fighting off security threats.

What do you mean by edge-scale?

Edge scale means designed from the ground up for the environment that exists at the edge, rather than stretched datacenter technology. For the edge, technology must be designed for large scale deployment of 100s or 1000s of edge sites and optimized to deliver workloads with efficient small form-factor edge servers.

What do you mean by edge server?

For Zynstra, an edge server is a virtualized and hyperconverged server that sits outside of the datacenter, often in a store or branch. It provides compute, storage and network capability optimized for a hostile edge environment.

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