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BigBand Networks (www.bigbandnet.com) is a leading provider of platforms for broadband multimedia services. Founded in 1999 with headquarters in Redwood City, California, BigBand has more than 500 employees, and a global customer base in cable, telecommunications, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting. Customer deployments span North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Services supported by BigBand Networks' platforms include high-speed data, voice over IP, digital broadcast television, HDTV, transport of high-quality video, local advertising, VOD and iTV.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Technology

Challenges

  • Users are in decentralized offices and cannot efficiently share data
  • Application performance is not consistent worldwide

Solution

  • Steelhead appliances deployed worldwide

Benefits

  • Avoided $90,000 in expenses related to distributing SharePoint deployment
  • Citrix licenses reduced by 1/3, while enabling remote users to have full access to native Oracle client application
  • Application acceleration and bandwidth optimization provide consistent application performance worldwide
  • Employees have access to any data, in every office, whenever they need it
  • WAN bandwidth usage reduced by almost 50%

BigBand Networks

Riverbed Steelhead Appliances Enable Global Data Sharing for Broadband Services Platform Provider

BigBand Networks (www.bigbandnet.com) is a leading provider of platforms for broadband multimedia services. Founded in 1999 with headquarters in Redwood City, California, BigBand has more than 500 employees, and a global customer base in cable, telecommunications, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting. Customer deployments span North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Services supported by BigBand Networks’ platforms include high-speed data, voice over IP, digital broadcast television, HDTV, transport of high-quality video, local advertising, VOD and iTV.

Challenge: Enable Employees with Access to Any Data, at Any Office, Anytime

With offices in Redwood City, CA, Westborough, MA, and Tel Aviv, Israel, and sales and support offices across Asia-Pacific, Canada, and Western Europe, BigBand is a fast-growing, globally- dispersed company that needed to provide uniform application delivery to all their employees — anytime, anywhere.

“Our fast growth has presented us with a number of IT challenges that primarily stem from dispersed personnel across multiple sites around the globe,” states Eugene Alfaro, director of IT Services at BigBand. “We wanted to maintain a decentralized application infrastructure so that all of our users could quickly and easily access local information. But we also wanted to gain greater productivity and efficient inter-office collaboration by accelerating application performance over the WAN.”

Alfaro noted, “With groups such as human resources, research and development, marketing, customer support, and product qualification globally distributed, we needed to ensure that technology was not a limiting factor in our ability to effectively work with one another. If at all possible, technology should never be the limiting factor in users’ ability to work together.”

“We realized that the distributed nature of our company would not only continue, but it would grow in employees and locations. Therefore, the solution must be able to grow with us.”

Solution: Steelhead Appliances Overcome Application Performance Limitations

According to Alfaro, “We narrowed the search to Cisco, F5, Juniper, and Riverbed. However, the first three vendors were either dependent on a central site for optimal performance, or they were unable to address our need to maintain a single server for services such as SharePoint, a critical application for us.”

“Our research gave me great confidence that Riverbed would not only meet our objectives, but would also do so prudently. Once I compared the costs and the value of the solutions, and the option of not implementing acceleration technology at all, it was clear that Riverbed was the best choice. My choice became even more clear as soon as I saw the Steelhead appliances in action.”

“Riverbed not only achieved our goals to enhance the ability of any BigBand employee to share information regardless of location, but also resulted in other benefits. In fact, the Oracle system we had deployed 11 months earlier was having problems because of our overtaxed WAN connections. We were experiencing dropped connections and slow responses.”

“Riverbed solved this problem by reducing our WAN bandwidth usage by 50%. We were deploying Oracle through our Citrix Remote application environment, and in fact, we were in the middle of the pilot test. After the deployment of Riverbed, the pilot users in our East Coast office reported that they preferred connecting directly to Oracle again rather than through Citrix.”

“Their reasons were simple. First and foremost, the disconnection problems were virtually nonexistent because of the optimized WAN performance. Secondly, the connection speed was better than connecting through Citrix. Deploying the Oracle application over Citrix, rather than natively on the workstation, also adversely affected some of the application features, forcing users to adjust their procedures. By running Oracle natively, they were able to again use it the same way that they were using other applications.”

“Thanks to Riverbed, we eliminated one third of the Citrix licenses we budgeted for, because Riverbed enabled users to run Oracle natively. This allowed us to use Citrix for what it was designed for, using applications remotely, if and when necessary, such as outside the firewall to other users such as contractors. This gave us great flexibility, and we were not being forced to use Citrix to deploy applications simply because of a limiting factor created by an overtaxed WAN.”

Another challenge BigBand faced was with SharePoint. There was a growing demand to move toward a fully-distributed SharePoint environment. When a user in the US accessed content from the SharePoint server Tel Aviv, it was too slow for most files.

Rather than moving forward with a $90,000 decision to deploy a distributed SharePoint portal, they found they were able to delay that decision after deploying Riverbed. Today they still operate a single SharePoint server, and provide the performance required everywhere in the world.

For security reasons, BigBand wanted to make sure there were no issues concerning caching. As they were moving toward soft compliance, it was necessary that there was no residual data stored on the server accessible outside of the file servers. According to Alfaro, “We wanted to ensure that the system did not disallow or prevent us from using secure methods.

Not only were we concerned about information stored in a cache, we also wanted to make sure that if we deployed SSL or RSS security ID’s, the system would not disallow or prevent us from moving forward with those applications.”

“Riverbed addressed this concern, as the Steelhead appliances aren’t caches, so they don’t store full copies of files. They store segments of information. So we didn’t have full copies of data on the WAN. The other vendors didn’t have this capability. And fundamentally, we liked the fact that Riverbed didn’t break our existing network security.”

BigBand also needed to address disaster recovery. Alfaro explained, “BigBand has to go through soft compliance. Therefore, we need to make sure that the systems are considered ‘in scope’, meaning they need to follow very strict policies, with the right backup and restore.

Riverbed has given us the ability to move ‘in scope’ items into a single location so that we leverage our existing disaster recovery systems.” Because applications such as SharePoint and Oracle are consolidated, tape libraries, backup solutions and online libraries can be leveraged into a single location, rather than being distributed in multiple locations.

BigBand also found improvement in its VoIP application by using Steelhead appliances. VoIP was deployed in their West Coast office. However, they had an oversubscribed WAN. Riverbed Steelhead appliances eliminate 60 - 95% of data moving across a network in the form of files, document management requests, backup and replication, Eliminating data over the network delivers greater bandwidth to VoIP traffic. In fact, BigBand moved up their VoIP initiative, deploying it to their East Coast offices this year; and to their Tel Aviv office this year, rather than 2007.

“I was also pleased with the Steelhead appliances’ ease of administration. We found the deployment, configuration, and optimization went very smooth. The Steelhead appliances were an easy fit into our IT environment. We simply configured the address, and the Steelhead appliance optimized the bandwidth intelligently. This was a huge benefit.”

Benefits: Reduced Bandwidth and Application Costs, Improved Productivity

BigBand had approval for expanding bandwidth for some of their offices. Yet, after deploying Riverbed, the expansion proved unnecessary. By deferring bandwidth upgrades they effectively reduced the bottom-line cost. They also saved by reducing Citrix licenses by one third and avoided additional SharePoint software and hardware.

Additionally, they now allow anyone, within any office, to connect and access their applications at anytime, improving productivity. But as anyone knows, management looks at the bottom-line. “We wanted to make sure we could justify the WAN optimization solution purchase with the delay, or the removal of some of our budgeted items. And we did just that,” concluded Alfaro.

SUMMARY

BigBand Networks needed to deliver uniform application delivery to all their employees, worldwide. The company wanted to maintain a decentralized approach to applications, but allow users to easily share data anywhere. BigBand also wanted to gain greater productivity and efficient inter-office collaboration by accelerating application performance over the WAN.

By deploying Riverbed Steelhead appliances, BigBand was able to dramatically reduce the need for Citrix licenses, and roll out native Oracle applications that delivered better performance and functionality for their users. Riverbed also enabled BigBand to reduce their WAN bandwidth usage by almost 50%.

BigBand employees now have accelerated access to data, regardless of their location. Company data and applications are now available to any employee, in any location, any time they need it.

“We narrowed the search to Cisco, F5, Juniper, and Riverbed. However, the first three vendors were either dependent on a central site for optimal performance, or they were unable to address our need to maintain a single server for services such as SharePoint, a critical application for us.”

“Riverbed achieved our goals to enhance the ability of any BigBand employee to share information regardless of location. We were also able to eliminate one third of the Citrix licenses we budgeted for, because Riverbed enabled users to run Oracle natively.”

“Riverbed has given us the ability to move ‘in scope’ items into a single location so that we leverage our existing disaster recovery systems.”

“I was also pleased with the Steelhead appliances’ ease of administration. We simply configured the address, and the Steelhead appliance optimized the bandwidth intelligently. This was a huge benefit.”

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