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The company uses a variety of mission-critical applications such as, SharePoint, Microsoft Office, CIFS and MAPI. Due to latency associated with Windows file sharing applications, users spent inordinate amounts of time waiting to download data, which adversely affected employee productivity. The issue of poor application performance was further compounded when the company tested a bespoke collaboration tool for its marketing department. 'We quickly identified that it would not be feasible to deploy the marketing application without some form of acceleration solution,' explains Larkin. 'We needed to resolve the issue of poor application performance as we couldn't go back to three data centers.'


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Sales & Marketing

Challenges

  • Global consolidation program resulted in poor application performance over the WAN

Solution

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

Benefits

  • 5x improvement in application performance download speeds resulting in improved employee productivity
  • 2x reduction in bandwidth utilization

Philip Morris International

Riverbed Technology improves application performance in private cloud environment, resulting in reduced costs, and increased employee productivity, for manufacturing company

Philip Morris International (PMI) is the leading international tobacco company, with products sold in approximately 160 countries. It has over 77,000 employees around the world. The company owns seven of the top 15 brands, and in 2009 had an estimated 15.4% share of the international ciga- rette market outside of the USA. Its revenues for 2009 were $25 billion.

Challenge: IT consolidation project resulted in poor application performance and reduced employee productivity

PMI decided to consolidate its IT infrastructure from three regional data centers - based in the US, Australia and Switzerland - into two active-active systems based in Switzerland. Consolidation to a private cloud environment can bring many benefits, such as greater efficiency and lower running costs, but it can also have unforeseen consequences. For PMI, the impact of moving to a private cloud was felt by employees across the globe.

“Users in our Asia and Latin American offices began to complain that it was taking too long to access applications and files over the wide area network (WAN),” says Nigel Larkin, the company’s principal telecom architect. The company uses a variety of mission-critical applications such as, SharePoint, Microsoft Office, CIFS and MAPI. Due to latency associ- ated with Windows file sharing applications, users spent inordinate amounts of time waiting to download data, which adversely affected employee productivity.

The issue of poor application performance was further compounded when the company tested a bespoke collaboration tool for its marketing department. “We quickly identified that it would not be feasible to deploy the marketing application without some form of acceleration solution,” explains Larkin. “We needed to resolve the issue of poor application performance as we couldn’t go back to three data centers.”

Solution: Riverbed ticks all the boxes for speed, scalability and the ability to meet future requirements

”We quickly concluded that our IT consolidation program wouldn’t work without WAN optimization,” says Larkin. “However, we wanted to ensure we selected the best WAN optimization solution available.”

PMI considered products from four major vendors– Riverbed Technology, Cisco, F5 and Juniper. After careful evaluation, the company decided to test products from two vendors – Riverbed® and Cisco. As part of the evaluation PMI had examined the vendors’ performance ranking using data provided by Gartner and Forrester. “The performance testing was based on our document management applications relying on HTTP as the transport protocol ,but we were also interested in how the product could support us with our future requirements. For example did it have a mobile solution? Was it scalable and how simple was it to manage? Riverbed ticked all of the boxes, ”says Larkin.

The company began with pilot program, installing Steelhead® appliances in several locations. One location was in Santa Cruz, Brazil.  “We installed the Riverbed Steelhead appliance there, and saw an increase in bandwidth capacity of100 per cent. Users wanted to know what we’d done as they could now access applications in half the time compared to previously,” says Larkin.

Benefits: Private cloud initiative a success thanks to Riverbed

In conjunction with their managed service provider, PMI has deployed over 140 Steelhead appliances in more than 90 locations across Europe, Asia and Latin America. “Quite simply, we would not have been able to support our private cloud initiative without Riverbed. Overall we have experienced a 5x improvement in application performance.

Even in locations with low latency and high bandwidth employees have commented that it is now quicker to access their files and documents,” notes Larkin. “The return on investment that we’ve experienced by deploying Riverbed has also made a strong financial case for widespread deployment and we now have plans to take further advantage of the Riverbed products that are available.”

PMI has also installed the Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC), which enables the company to manage the Steelhead appliances from a central location, and the Riverbed Interceptor, which extends the scaling and performance capabilities of the Steelhead appliances.

Looking forward

PMI has a large mobile workforce and Riverbed Steelhead Mobile is currently being evaluated to provide mobile workers with the same local area network (LAN)-like access as their office based counterparts.

The company is also deploying Riverbed Cascade®, which enables enterprises to analyze network usage and performance and identify any potential issues before they cause problems for users. “Cascade has features that you normally only find on a dedicated intrusion protection system, so it could save us money,” adds Larkin.

In addition to Cascade, PMI plans to implement an SAP portal, and will use the Riverbed Steelhead appliances to accelerate SAP traffic. And, finally the company is evaluating the Riverbed Services Platform (RSP), which enables companies to remove print and DNS/DHCP servers from branch offices. In particular PMI is considering QUMU.

SUMMARY

After consolidating its IT infrastructure to a private cloud environment, many of the employees at Philip Morris International (PMI) noticed deterioration in application performance when accessing files and documents over the WAN, with key applications running slowly or not at all.

After carefully evaluating the major WAN optimization vendors, PMI chose Riverbed Technology and has deployed over 140 Steelhead appliances across more than 90 locations. The company has now seen a 5x improvement in application performance speeds and experienced a 2x reduction in bandwidth utilization. Employees are now able to access all files and applications over the WAN resulting in a more productive workforce.

“We quickly identified that it would not be feasible to deploy the marketing application without some form of acceleration solution.”

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