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Rouse International deployed Riverbed SteelHead applications to reduce bandwidth by 78 percent and save more than $300,000 a year.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Industry: Professional Services (Legal)

Challenges

  • Improve application performance across the wide-area network (WAN)
  • Achieve cost reductions and avoid an expensive managed, peer-to-peer MPLS circuit upgrade
  • Implement a single practice management system to support its global business

Solution

  • Riverbed Steelhead Appliances
  • Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC)

Benefits

  • Instantaneous improvements in application performance across all applications and sites worldwide
  • 78% reduction in bandwidth utilization - yielding a 4.5 times increase in capacity
  • Expected annual saving of £200,000+
  • Single web-based management interface

Rouse International

Rouse Guarantees Application Performance with Riverbed Steelhead Appliances

Background

Rouse provides a comprehensive portfolio of intellectual property (IP) services – from the development and implementation of global investigation, enforcement and protection strategies, to the provision of patent and trade mark agency and commercial IP services.

Launched in the UK in 1990, the business has since grown to encompass 16 offices in nine countries around the world and is regularly ranked among the leading IP practices in the various jurisdictions in which it operates. The company’s professionals are drawn from a wide range of disciplines and include lawyers, patent and trade mark attorneys, researchers and investigators.

Challenge: Battling bandwidth constraints during IT consolidation

Rouse operates a global WAN - comprising a mixture of managed and non-managed broadband services. Provided locally, these services form a fully-meshed (hub and spoke) network topology, supporting Web-based, inter-office VPNs to deliver a number of business-critical applications to the company’s remote offices, including:

• Intranet/Document Management based MOSS 2007

• Thompson PMS Time and billing for professional services firms

• MS Exchange 2003/2007

• WebTMS (Intellectual Property Online) – an HTTP-based trade mark database

In addition, Rouse employs VoIP at some of its larger sites (e.g. China and the UK). using traditional PBX technology - although there is an ongoing project to replace this withMicrosoft OCS 2007. The network itself is powered by Cisco switches and routers.

Aiming to reduce complexity and the number of physical servers in the network, Rouse initiated a programme of centralization in 2004. The initial stage of the process utilized a Citrix-based, thin- client environment to enable consolidation of applications to the data center located at its UK headquarters. But, as the number of centralized applications grew, bandwidth became constrained.

“We were experiencing poor application performance across the WAN, while the cost of upgrading our Internet-based, inter-office VPNs to managed P2P MPLS circuits was simply not viable – especially in those countries with state-owned telecoms,” says Jonathan Bruce, Global head of IT at Rouse. “Time recording and billing for fee earners, the trade mark database and our Intranet were the main culprits, although all applications centralized in the UK were affected.

Solution: Riverbed Steelhead appliances and Central Management Console deliver ease of deployment, simplify management & support, and speed application performance

Bruce first became aware of the Riverbed Steelhead appliances while attending the annual Legal IT conference and exhibition held at Gleneagles in Scotland. Previously, the company had evaluated a WAN acceleration solution from Peribit (now part of Juniper Networks), but had experienced little success in implementing the hardware. Subsequently, Rouse opted for the Steelhead appliances to ensure a scalable approach to application acceleration across the WAN.

“We ended up returning the equipment to Peribit as we were never able to get it up and running. In direct contrast, it was the ease of deployment and simplicity of support that really differentiated Riverbed for us,” Bruce explains. “The Steelhead appliance does what it says on the box: you just plug it in and it works.”

Rouse deployed 13 Riverbed Steelhead appliances at 12 of its offices. Administration is taken care of at its London headquarters by the Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC). The CMC simplifies the process of deploying, configuring and managing the Steelhead appliances while providing administrators with a single, web-based interface that gives greater visibility into application performance across the WAN.

“We had a lot of appliances going in and wanted to centralize management so we could achieve a clear view of how they were performing. The CMC definitely eases the administrative burden,” says Bruce. “Any teething problems were quickly rectified and when we have had to swap a unit out it could be done the very next day.”

Deployment of the Riverbed Steelhead appliances began with Rouse offices in Indonesia and the UK, followed by a phased rollout to other overseas offices. Although the entire project took a year to complete, the results were instantaneous. “Essentially, within 30 minutes of the Riverbed Steelhead appliances coming online, we started seeing an improvement in an application that had been running poorly over Citrix...then there was no going back,” Bruce states. “Deployment was very straight forward in our Microsoft environment and, because we had already web-enabled our key applications, the Steelhead appliances were able to make a real difference on the WAN.”

Using the CMC, Bruce is able to obtain an instant snapshot of application performance: “Improvements have been realized across the board. In one month, the total reduction in bandwidth utilization across all applications and sites was 78% – delivering a 4.5 times increase in capacity,” he points out. “And opening a document in Jakarta (from London) is 34 times faster, thanks to a 97% reduction in latency on the link.”

What’s more, by avoiding the expense of upgrading its Web-based, inter-office VPNs to managed MPLS-based P2P circuits, Bruce estimates that the Riverbed Steelhead appliances have saved Rouse more than £200,000 annually.

“The ROI was instantaneous for us as we didn’t have to upgrade the links. The cost of the Riverbed Steelhead appliances was only a couple of percent of what the upgrades would have cost. The other qualitative feedback we’ve had is that there has been an 80% reduction in calls to the internal IT helpdesk – so they now have more time to address other areas, which again, has a positive impact on the business.”

Looking Ahead

Using Riverbed Steelhead appliances, Rouse has been able to make more bandwidth available for other applications - enabling the centralization of a further five critical applications. “It has given us the agility to deploy applications within the company and deploy them quickly, because the network is no longer a show stopper.”

Indeed, the company has not had to upgrade a single link within its WAN over the past two years, and it is now looking to move more of its offices to a software-based VoIP telephony solution. In its China operation, for example, the Riverbed Steelhead appliances have reduced the drop-out rates for inter-office VoIP calls by 60-70% and enabled the company to avoid the € 10,000 charge, per office, that the managed service provider wanted to levy for upgrading the quality of service (QoS) on its internal MPLS circuits.

SUMMARY

Rouse offers global intellectual property consultancy services and has regional practices in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, India, China, and South East Asia. The company embarked on a process of IT consolidation in 2004 and had been gradually centralizing ICT services to its UK operation.

However, bandwidth constraints were resulting in poor application performance across the wide area network (WAN), while the cost of upgrading its Internet-based, inter-office VPNs to managed peer-to-peer (P2P), multi protocol label switching (MPLS) circuits was prohibitive.

By deploying Riverbed Steelhead appliances across the organization, the company has increased network capacity by almost a factor of five. It has reduced file transfer times from minutes to seconds, and delivered the speed of application performance required to facilitate its business- critical processes.

“Ease of deployment and simplicity of support were the features that really differentiated Riverbed for us. The Riverbed Steelhead appliance does what it says on the box: you just plug it in and it works.”

“The ROI was instantaneous for us as we didn’t have to upgrade the links and the cost of the Riverbed Steelhead appliances was only a couple of percent of what the upgrades would have cost.”

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