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The Savola Group (www.savola.com) is a Saudi public listed company and one of the largest diversified conglomerates in the Menaca (Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia) region, managing a wide portfolio of businesses that includes food commodities, plastics packaging and real estate. The company has 17,000 employees in more than 100 offices in ten countries. Its annual revenues are $5.6 billion.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Foods, Retail, Packaging, and Real Estate

Challenge

  • Enable IT to keep pace with strategic acquisition and staff growth
  • Control bandwidth cost
  • Centralize application servers from all overseas branch offices
  • Enable further consolidation of IT services

Solution

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

Benefits

  • Avoided an expensive bandwidth upgrade
  • Reduced WAN data traffic by around 2TB a month
  • Improved application performance
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Centralized services and removed 11 mail servers from branch offices

The Savola Group

Foods company increases bandwidth capacity, improves application performance and realizes significant cost savings with Riverbed Steelhead appliances

Background

The Savola Group (www.savola.com) is a Saudi public listed company and one of the largest diversified conglomerates in the Menaca (Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia) region, managing a wide portfolio of businesses that includes food commodities, plastics packaging and real estate. The company has 17,000 employees in more than 100 offices in ten countries. Its annual revenues are $5.6 billion.

Challenge: To find a cost-effective solution for increasing bandwidth capacity and boosting application performance

The Savola Group (“Savola”) uses its wide area network (WAN) to deliver business-critical data and applications to thousands of employees in the MENACA (Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia) region. “In a business such as food, timely and accurate information is essential,” explains Asif Vanoo, Savola IT infrastructure manager, “small delays or incomplete information may have a significant adverse effect on the company’s business.” The key applications used by Savola are Oracle E-business Suite and Microsoft Exchange. “Our business was growing very quickly and the demand on these business-critical applications was increasing,” notes Vanoo.

The data traffic across Savola’s WAN had almost tripled in three years, and this was presenting the company with new challenges, “Although our network infrastructure had been improved over the years, there were still issues around latency, bandwidth availability, and cost,” says Vanoo, “We had to find a cost-effective way of increasing our network capacity, while maintaining, if not improving, the remote user experience with these business applications.”

Solution: Riverbed WAN optimization solution offers improved performance across a broad spectrum of applications

WAN optimization was seen as an innovative way of improving application response times, especially where file latency was high. Savola embarked on a comprehensive evaluation program of WAN optimization products from Bluecoat, F5, Juniper and Riverbed Technology. The proof of concept program lasted more than one year and involved Savola’s head office, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and nine remote offices from three business units in four different countries.

After extensive testing, Savola found that the Riverbed® solution offered the best option. “It offered good performance across a broad spectrum of applications including, Microsoft Exchange (MAPI, SMTP), and Oracle E-Business Suite (HTTP, Oracle Forms),” recalls Vanoo. “It was also easy to install, deploy, and administer in a mesh network topology, and Riverbed leadership in this market was further proof of the expertise Riverbed has in WAN optimization.”

Such was the impact of the Riverbed technology that, when the test Steelhead® appliances were removed from Savola, employees in the company’s Egypt office complained about the slowness of their email service.

Savola has deployed Steelhead appliances in offices in seven countries. “Features like pass-through interfaces made it easy to integrate Steelhead appliances with our existing IT infrastructure,” explains Vanoo. The company also installed Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC) at its data center. The CMC simplifies the process of deploying and managing Steelhead appliances distributed across the WAN, enabling users to configure, monitor, and upgrade groups of Steelhead appliances through a single web-based interface.

Benefits: Riverbed solution delivers annual cost savings of $100,000, vast reduction in data traffic, improved employee productivity and enables further IT consolidation

The deployment of Riverbed technology has reduced Savola WAN data traffic by around 2TB per month and enabled the company to make considerable savings. “We estimate that Riverbed has saved us about $100,000 a year in bandwidth upgrade costs,” notes Vanoo. The reduction in application data has been considerable, with a 47% reduction in Oracle traffic. Vanoo explains its impact, “This has enhanced user experience and provided effective bandwidth capacity for additional Oracle implementations.”

MAPI data is being reduced by 60%, enabling Savola to centralize its enterprise mail service and remove 11 local mail servers from small and medium sites. A 65% reduction in CIFS traffic has resulted in faster business data transfer between sites. “Riverbed is transforming the way we deliver our IT services,” explains Vanoo, “and our employees can work faster and more efficiently.”

IT Director, Abdul Hameed Dabapu adds “Installing the Riverbed WAN optimization solution has improved our application performance and employee productivity.”

Future plans

Savola is now working on strengthening its disaster recovery plan and is considering SAN storage data replication across separate sites using EMC capabilities (such as MirrorView).

SUMMARY

The Savola Group relies on its WAN to deliver business critical applications and data. As the company grew, demands on its bandwidth increased and this was affecting application performance. Savola saw WAN optimization as a cost-effective solution to these issues, and after extensive testing, selected a Riverbed solution. After deploying the Steelhead appliances, Savola has saved around $100,000 a year in bandwidth upgrade costs, boosted application performance, increased employee productivity, and been able to extend and enhance its IT infrastructure.

“In a business such as commodities, timely and accurate information is essential.”

“Riverbed offered good performance across a broad spectrum of applications including, Microsoft exchange (MAPI, SMTP), and Oracle E-business Suite (HTTP,Oracle forms).”

“We estimate that Riverbed has saved us about $100,000 a year in bandwidth upgrade costs.”

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