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Thanks to Riverbed ® technology, Colas Limited was able to access centralized applications up to eight times faster and reduce bandwidth utilization by up to 75 percent.


IN BRIEF

Industry

  • Construction

Challenges

  • Improve knowledge sharing and productivity by reducing the time taken to access centralized applications
  • Stabilise network performance in order to roll-out new business applications
  • Build a forward-looking network infrastructure for future growth

Solution

  • Riverbed Steelhead Appliance

Benefits

  • Expected cost savings of £110,000 by deferring costly bandwidth upgrades
  • Users can access centralized applications and files up to 8x faster
  • Reduction of between 65% and 75% in bandwidth utilization
  • Backup windows reduced from four to five hours to one hour

Colas Ltd

Riverbed Improves Collaboration by Accelerating Centralized Applications for Leading Construction Firm

Colas Ltd is a UK-based subsidiary of Colas SA, the world’s leading road Construction and maintenance group headquartered in France. Colas SA operates in more than 40 countries and posted turnover of 10.7 billion in 2006.TheUK company, Colas Ltd, is headquartered at Rowfant in West Sussex and specializes in airfield and highway construction. Colas Ltd employs over 1,200people.

Challenge: Tackling Poor Application Performance

In the construction industry, the sharing of knowledge and information is vital to promote best practices and speed up the completion of projects. However, Colas Ltd’s employees were experiencing problems when accessing centralized applications such as Microsoft Office, Coda Financials, and the corporate intranet, which stored most of the company’s data and project information such as risk assessments and safety documents.

“For our end users, the experience of accessing and using applications was painfully slow—so much so, that the technology was more of a hindrance than an enabler, ”says Tony Delaney, IT manager at Colas Ltd. “We needed to accelerate the speed at which people could access centralized systems in order to share knowledge and information more effectively.

”Furthermore, the company wanted to roll out new applications from Microsoft such as its SharePoint Server and CRM application. “These require a centralized network topology, but our performance was not accept able to make it worthwhile introducing them,” says Delaney. “Given we were having existing problems with our shared applications, there was no point in looking at additional applications over the WAN if our centralized systems were not performing well.”

So the company decided to look for a way to improve the performance of its network. “We realized it was time to build a sound and suitable infrastructure for future products that we might install,” explains Delaney.

Solution: Steelhead Appliances Improve Network Throughput and Accelerate Applications

One of Colas’ resellers in traduced Riverbed’s WAN optimization services solution to the IT team.  Delaney had heard about the technology before, but was considering implementing thin client technology from Citrix to tackle the performance problems when accessing Microsoft applications.

“The benefit of Riverbed’s Steelhead appliances was that in addition to addressing the specific Microsoft application performance issues, they could also optimize the bandwidth on the network in its entirety,” explains Delaney. “We felt this offered a far better return on investment (ROI) than implementing a Citrix solution or embarking on a costly upgrade of our network bandwidth.”

Colas embarked on a trial of Riverbed’s Steelhead appliance to confirm the performance benefits and compatibility with its network. Colas split the deployment into two phases and the entire project took just over two months from start to finish.

“We wanted to install it in half the sites first and let it bed down, before installing it in the rest of the sites. We didn’t want our users to experience any disruption, and as we hadn’t worked with Riverbed’s technology before, we didn’t want to rush it,” explains Delaney. They needn’t have worried: “The deployment was fairly painless: the 13 appliances were configured by Riverbed and shipped direct to 13 sites,” he adds.

The Steelhead appliances are now optimizing traffic on Cola’s MPLS-based network, which is maintained by Verizon. “What we liked about the Steelhead appliance is that even if we change network providers in the future, we can still continue to realize the value of our investment in the Steelhead appliances,” says Delaney.

“If we had gone down the route of upgrading our network bandwidth, every time we wanted to upgrade we would have needed to go out to re-negotiate for a new network circuit. Also if we move location, we can simply take the boxes with us, which is another feature we liked.”

Looking Ahead: Server Consolidation, Accelerating Mobile Workers and Deploying New Business Applications

What also helped persuade Colas to choose Riverbed over an alternative solution was the alignment of its product roadmap with Colas’ own network plan for the future. “Given the industry we operate in, we have a lot of workers connecting to our centralized systems remotely,” explains Delaney. “We’re looking at acceleration technology for our mobile workers and a product like Steelhead Mobile would deliver an even better ROI for us and, crucially, make our knowledge readily available to all employees.”

Colas also plans to consolidate servers for mail services, intranet and other applications. “More importantly, we’ll also be looking to deploy new systems that improve our business, such as Microsoft SharePoint and its CRM applications. Thanks to Riverbed, we can finally do that, now that we have a stable network infrastructure,” he concludes.

SUMMARY

UK construction company, Colas Ltd, wanted to improve the performance of its network so users could access centralized applications and files faster. Colas relies on users collaborating to share knowledge and best practices in order to complete projects successfully and safely. The poor network performance was also hindering its ability to implement new business applications, such as Microsoft’s SharePoint Server and CRM applications, which would give the company a competitive edge.

Colas considered implementing a thin client to address issues with the performance of its Microsoft applications or upgrading its network bandwidth. Riverbed’s Steelhead appliances provided a far more cost- effective and reliable solution, increasing the performance of all traffic on the network. File transfer times now take less than a minute, while overnight back-ups only take one hour. Even better, the company expects to achieve cost savings of £110,000 over the next two years through deferred bandwidth upgrades.

“File transfer times that took eight minutes before, now take less thanone minute”

“Backups, which previously took between four and five hours, now only take one hour.”

“The deployment was fairly painless: the 13 appliances were configured by Riverbed and shipped direct to 13 sites.”

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