Cloud Heroes Overcome IT Complexity to Improve Business Agility
Cloud Heroes Overcome IT Complexity to Improve Business Agility
By Kevin West, Sr. Director, Solutions Marketing, Riverbed
This is the second in a series of blogs profiling cloud heroes and how they’re bringing superhero powers of agility, visibility, and performance to the digital enterprise.
We all know what agility looks like when it comes to IT. We experience it every day with our smartphones. Some apps you download, some are web-based, but you don’t have to worry about it, they’re just there when you need them. Some data – photos, contacts – may be on your phone but most of it – and if you’re smart, all of it – is stored somewhere in the public cloud. Apps are intuitive, easy and fast with your smartphone, and compute and storage resources can be spun up in the cloud instantly. That’s what agility looks like for the average person.
But that’s not what it looks like for the average enterprise. When an enterprise moves to the cloud, there are often performance issues from the start that block any agility gains.
For example, when CenterPoint Properties decided to transition its IT environment to the public cloud, application performance suffered. “In the very beginning, the cloud applications were slow and employees didn't like that,” says Beverly Maestas, VP of Technology Operations for the company, which acquires, develops, and manages industrial property and transportation infrastructure. Frustrated end users complained that they couldn’t get their work done.
Maestas joined the ranks of cloud heroes by deploying Riverbed solutions to accelerate Office 365, reduce network traffic by 63%, and improve visibility into network performance. “Our IT organization isn’t that big, having our own datacenter is not our core business, and Riverbed has helped us feel bigger, move faster, and be more agile,” Maestas says. “We find using the cloud for access anywhere, anytime better fits our model.”
Accelerating cloud apps is only part of the agility challenge when it comes to hybrid environments. For example, Engen, an African-based energy group that refines and markets petroleum products, has 3,500 employees working in a vast network of depots, terminals, facilities, and warehouses that is extremely complex, placing great demands on IT infrastructure. The network architecture required remote sites to connect to the corporate WAN via regional offices, where data bottlenecks degraded performance. “Our help desk was getting lots of complaints from end-users,” says Nicholas Lain, architecture specialist at Engen. “Screens would freeze and connections were dropped. Ultimately our users were very frustrated and their productivity suffered.”
Lain solved the app performance issues with Riverbed solutions which delivered a 3x increase in connection speed, up to 75x improvement in application performance, and 80% reduction in data crossing the WAN. He also software-defined his company’s edge IT, which “enabled us to re-architect our branch IT, so that all branch offices and depots are now directly connected to the WAN.”
The end result is greater business agility driven by optimized application, network, and edge performance. “Before Riverbed, we were limited in what we could provide end-users,” says Lain. “We’ve now rolled out a full Windows 7 desktop and the end-user experience is the same as if employees were based at our main office. The calls from frustrated users have disappeared.” Hail the cloud hero!
But a hero’s work is never done. Datacenters have become virtualized, and virtualized applications, servers, and storage have all moved to the cloud en masse. Networks routers, however, haven’t changed much in 20 years. Today’s networks are yesterday’s networks, built on thousands of routers that require tedious and time-consuming CLI configuration to deploy or make changes. According to ZK Research, it takes businesses four months to make network changes; and human error introduced by high-touch programming causes over a third of network downtime. For true agility, the hybrid enterprise needs to address the network.
Rob Gillan is a cloud hero who delivered massive gains in agility for his company with Riverbed’s revolutionary new SD-WAN solution. Gillan is the Chief Technology Officer for Australian start-up SimplePay, a payment processing services company established in 2012. As SimplePay rapidly expanded to reach target customers in Europe, the Middle East, the UK and the US, its IT infrastructure could not keep up with the increasingly distributed operation.
Gillan partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the ability to spin-up infrastructure in regional clouds wherever required and manage that infrastructure through a single pane of glass. Within the AWS secure environment, he deployed Riverbed’s SD-WAN solution to automate networking between all of the virtual clouds and provide a consistent and secure connection anywhere in the world.
“It’s interesting if you look back two of three years, if you were going to build a global database and application servers you’d be contracting a datacenter provider or a space provider somewhere and leasing the servers and deploying your own routing hardware and having to build your own firewalls and having to manage all those physical assets,” says Gillan. “We’ve been able with AWS and Riverbed to not have any infrastructure that we own from an asset perspective. We’ve got an ability now to very quickly build and deploy a global network that would have taken months of planning and deployment before, now in hours. You literally can turn on a new country in 15-20 minutes and that’s unheard of in this industry.”
“We go ‘deploy please’ and it does everything for us. We say we need to deploy to this country, this country, and this country and it just happens. And ten minutes later there’s a global map sitting on your Riverbed SteelConnect console with green links between all the sites, it’s that simple. For anyone who’s been through traditional network deployment, this thing is like what the Dick Tracy watch was in the ʻ60s. It’s just so hard to believe.” Watch Gillan discuss how revolutionary SD-WAN truly is.
That’s true agility: The ability to deploy and manage network services, applications, monitoring capabilities, and edge IT as intuitively as downloading apps onto your smartphone and as instantly as spinning up compute and storage resources into a public cloud.
Be a cloud hero. Learn how today.