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IN BRIEF

Challenges

  • Unintended application performance issues arising from datacenter consolidation
  • Reduced business productivity across functions including finance and manufacturing

Solution

  • SteelHead CX appliances deployed in datacenter and 10 manufacturing facilities

Benefits

  • Up to 10x application acceleration improves end user experience and productivity
  • Account balances prepared 60% faster
  • 7- to 12-month SteelHead ROI
  • Stage is set for successful move to cloud

SteelHead turned it around and made centralization a success, setting the stage for a future move to the cloud.

Company description

LNJ Bhilwara Group, headquartered in Delhi, has approximately 25,000 professionals working in 11 locations across India. Since its inception as a textile mill in 1960, the group has diversified into a conglomerate of multiple products and services focusing mainly on textiles, graphite and power.

Poor application performance impacts all aspects of the business.

Given the fierce competition in the textile industry, Bhilwara needs IT that’s cutting-edge to help it compete. The company’s long-term IT strategy is to eventually move the majority of the group’s applications and data from a large number of local facilities to the cloud. As a preliminary step, the IT team removed servers from the company’s textile manufacturing facilities, and centralized data and applications in a datacenter in Noida (near Delhi).

Since the completion of that preliminary step, applications that were formerly hosted locally are now accessed from the central datacenter by remote users over Reliance or Airtel MPLS networks. (Business-critical applications in the manufacturing plants include Lotus Notes and textile-specific ERP solutions.)

Centralization got off to a rough start, however, when the distance between the datacenter and the manufacturing facilities slowed application performance to unacceptable levels. For example, after centralization, even something as simple as the delivery of an email could take 30 minutes.

In addition to frustrating users and decreasing their productivity, slow application response had a negative impact on every element of the textile business—from ordering to production to delivery.

Keeping accurate track of inventory, for instance, was nearly impossible, making it difficult to meet customers’ expectations for timely deliveries. Slow application performance also delayed response to climate conditions such as monsoons, which affect the availability of cotton. When necessary for continuity of production, Bhilwara can import cotton from other countries. But changing course on the fly was difficult when the IT infrastructure couldn’t keep pace.

On the financial side, poor application performance slowed the preparation of monthly account balances. Teams of accountants had to work around the clock for five days to complete them. Credit control was also affected because there was no real-time way for the different manufacturing facilities to determine the credit status of a customer. Without this, customers with bad credit ratings at one Bhilwara facility might get more favorable credit terms than they should at another.

“Centralization had really started to impact our business,” says Subhash Kumar, head of infrastructure at Bhilwara. He explained that Bhilwara management is very forward thinking and “pro-technology.” So he knew he had their support when he decided to look into wide-area network (WAN) optimization as a way to improve the performance of the centralized applications.

Better technology, faster ROI and a big boost to the business

SteelHead won the evaluation easily, with the advantage of advanced features such as inbound and outbound quality of service (QoS) and path selection, to optimize the use of hybrid networks. SteelHead’s inbound QoS, for example, gives the manufacturing sites control over incoming network traffic so that the business-critical applications are guaranteed priority and stable bandwidth.

Other factors in favor of SteelHead were the quality of Riverbed’s support and a faster ROI. As Kumar explains, “ROI is more important for us than the purchase price. In comparing the estimated ROIs for the two solutions, we determined that the superior WAN optimization provided by SteelHead would translate to higher employee productivity, and that manpower savings would pay for the SteelHead purchase in seven to 10 months."

Bhilwara installed SteelHead appliances in ten manufacturing facilities as well as in the datacenter. Riverbed organized training sessions that included people from all of the regions where the group has manufacturing facilities. That way, local teams learned how to manage their own appliances

With the SteelHeads in place, application performance improved dramatically. According to Kumar, “File transfers are now 10 times faster, emails are seven to 10 times faster, and business applications run three times faster than they did pre-SteelHead.” The user experience has improved dramatically, and overall, centralization is now a success. Or, as Kumar adds, “After implementing the SteelHeads, all of the issues caused by the centralization are no longer issues.”

The impact of SteelHead on the business has also been dramatic. The textile production cycle (order to delivery), has improved significantly—a very important outcome for Bhilwara, which prides itself on the timeliness of its deliveries. Inventory management has improved to the point that the marketing department can see immediately how much material is in stock at any given time and make a firm commitment to customers about delivery dates. The amount of time required for preparing monthly account balances dropped from five days to less than two. Real-time credit checking eliminated the problem of having customers get different credit terms from different facilities.

Riverbed has established a strong foundation for a future cloud-first approach. SteelHead WAN optimization brings other benefits to IT as well. “Our IT department can now focus on strategic development in areas like assessment and deployment of new technologies to ensure high performance and success,” says Kumar.

After implementing the SteelHeads, all of the issues caused by the centralization are no longer issues.
Subhash Kumar
Head of Infrastructure
LNJ Bhilwara Group

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