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Overcoming Last-mile Latency for Sri Lanka’s Largest Apparel Exporter: An O365 Migration Success Story

Blanco Lam
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Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen Microsoft make some major architectural changes to Office 365 (O365) in order to address performance issues typically associated with the WAN. For example, Microsoft recently completed the rollout of Azure Front Door (AFD) for SharePoint Online, which enables users to connect to the closest AFD rather than connecting directly to the SharePoint Online instance, which helps to speed performance.

While such changes have had positive impact on specific customers, not all will benefit from this. For example, customers in countries such as South Africa, United Arabs Emirates and Sri Lanka aren’t able to reap the benefits from this because there is no AFD available locally. For these customers, it’s not unusual for their application traffic to traverse the Internet into another country with latency in excess of 150 milliseconds before reaching the AFD. To put that into perspective, that’s 150x slower than accessing an on-premise Exchange server.

Let me share a customer story with you.

Brandix Lanka (Brandix) is Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter and they count Victoria Secret, Gap, Next, Marks and Spencers amongst other household names as their customers. Similar to many other companies embarking on the journey to cloud, Brandix decided to move their email and data into O365 in order to provide a better experience for end users as well to ensure anytime, anywhere access to data. Unfortunately, once the migration started, Brandix’s users started complaining about slowness of the email and the office applications. The performance was so poor that it presented the Head of Group ICT, Sampath Perumbuli, with a dilemma of whether or not he should proceed with the O365 implementation altogether. After all, there is no point in migrating to a solution that would provide worse end user performance than what is currently there today.

Brandix turned to Riverbed for assistance, and worked closely with the team to test SteelHead SaaS – a solution purpose-built to accelerate SaaS application delivery to and from the cloud. Fortunately, he was to migrate all 6,000 users within three and a half months with zero complaints from the users. To quote Perumbuli, “Without the Riverbed [solution], I don’t think we would have had the foundation we needed to move to the cloud.”

So, what is the lesson learned here? The lesson learned is that a network is only as strong as its weakest link. In this case, the weakest link is the last mile between the client and the AFD. Riverbed thrives at the last mile – and it’s precisely what our scalable data referencing (SDR) and layer-7 technologies were designed to overcome.

See how Brandix Lanka leveraged Riverbed’s SteelHead SaaS to overcome last-mile latency and establish a solid foundation for their future cloud strategy:

 

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