Schneider Electric is a global specialist in energy management. The 176-year-old French firm got its start in the steel industry, then expanded into power and control in the last half of the twentieth century. More recently, the company broadened its scope to energy management, a move that extended its business portfolio while doubling sales and employees. Today, Schneider Electric employs more than 110,000 people in approximately 100 countries around the world.
Schneider Electric’s IT infrastructure links the company’s global operations via three multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) networks supplemented by smaller, local networks in various locations. These networks connect approximately 1,000 remote sites with the company’s four major data centers.
When the company was considering moving to the current data center model, the IT team realized that they would have to address a couple of roadblocks for a successful migration. “We realized that the additional latency caused by applications becoming more centralized could impact the user experience,” explains Lionel Marie, network architect at Schneider Electric. “We knew we would need some type of WAN optimization for this to work.”
The other problem stems from Schneider Electric’s outsourced data centers. It prevents the company’s IT professionals from redirecting traffic to optimize network performance. “We can’t do things like configure routers and switches,” explains Marie. “The only solution for us was an in-path device that we could integrate into our network.”
Two products from Riverbed Technology removed the obstacles to Schneider Electric’s consolidation strategy: Riverbed® Steelhead® appliances, which provide WAN optimization, and Riverbed Interceptor® appliances to extend the scaling and high-availability functions of the Steelhead appliances without affecting the data centers.
The Steelhead appliances deliver LAN-like performance for applications running in the data centers to users around the world. “By putting the Steelhead appliances in place as we did the consolidation, we provided to end users the same application performance as before the consolidation,” says Marie. The company currently has 300 Steelhead appliances installed and the goal is to have one appliance per branch office.
The Interceptor appliances offered a unique solution to the issue of not having direct data center access. “There are lots of traffic accelerators on the market, but Interceptor is the only one to allow us to upgrade network capacity without impacting the data centers,” Marie explains. “This is critical for us. With the Interceptors deployed, we can now scale up the number of Steelhead appliances in our organisation and increase the acceleration capacity, without causing network outages or issues for end users.
Schneider Electric’s eight Interceptor appliances are deployed in-path behind WAN routers in the data centers. By distributing TCP connections evenly across a stack of Steelhead appliances, the Interceptor appliances permit a large number of Steelhead products to work simultaneously, optimizing up to 1,000,000 TCP connections. “We were happy to learn about Interceptor,” Marie continues. “It is the only solution on the market that would allow us to optimize traffic in our data centers.”
Riverbed Professional Services (RPS) has been very helpful to Schneider Electric throughout its consolidation efforts. RPS helped Schneider Electric to architect the Interceptor appliance deployment and then installed, configured, and validated them in each of the four data centers located around the world. In addition, as Schneider Electric rolls out additional Steelhead appliances in a phased deployment, RPS professionals make sure this work goes smoothly. “Riverbed has a lot of experience with large enterprises and they are very responsive when we have an issue,” says Marie. “It has been very helpful for us to have them involved.”
Schneider Electric is seeing a reduction in IT costs, and both Riverbed products contribute to the savings.
The Steelhead appliances have made it possible to successfully consolidate without compromises. For example, the consolidated applications have pleased users while data deduplication has reduced the volume of traffic on Schneider Electric’s WAN by an average of 75 percent for optimized traffic, leading to fewer bandwidth upgrades.
The Interceptor appliances help Schneider Electric to avoid costs related to data center disruptions and to control capital expenses. “Interceptor allows us to add more Steelhead appliances as we need them in a pay-as-you-go approach,” Marie says. “Scalability was one of key reasons why we selected Riverbed, and the Interceptors are magic for that. With others’ WAN optimization product, when it’s full you have to take it out and replace it, taking the data center down or having people work nights and weekends. With Interceptor, there is no service interruption. We can add a Steelhead appliance even during the day without interrupting data center service.”
Schneider Electric wanted to reduce data transfer rates and network latency, while improving the user experience for centralized applications. And the company wanted to achieve this without costly bandwidth upgrades. Riverbed Steelhead appliances and Riverbed Interceptor appliances enabled WAN optimization while providing intelligent load balancing on high volume traffic.
The Steelhead appliances reduced optimized network traffic by an average of 75 percent, while the Interceptor appliances enable Schneider Electric to upgrade network capacity without impacting the data centers. As a result Schneider Electric has seen a reduction in IT costs, and ability to scale without service interruptions.
“There are lots of traffic accelerators on the market, but Interceptor is the only one to allows us upgrade network capacity without impacting the data center.”
“Scalability was one of key reasons why we selected Riverbed, and the Interceptors are magic for that.”
“Riverbed has a lot of experience with large enterprise and they are very responsive when we have an issue. It has been very helpful for us to have them involved.”
“We can add a Steelhead appliance even during the day without interrupting data center services.”
The views I created using Riverbed open APIs ease capacity planning of Internet bandwidth / Internet peering, help negotiate costs with upstream transit providers by easily qualifying the most important destinations, and elaborate a peering (public / private) policy to collect the traffic from Internet exchange points.
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