After a Merger, GHD Uses Riverbed SD-WAN to Integrate New Teams and Boost Global Collaboration


After GHD, a global engineering, architecture, environmental, and construction services provider with around 8,500 employees, merged with a North American company, it suddenly had to integrate 3,500 new employees and roughly 100 offices into an already-complex infrastructure. It would have cost a fortune in old-fashioned hardware-based solutions to bring the new sites online, so GHD turned to the innovative software-defined networking of the Riverbed SteelConnect™ software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution.

According to Elizabeth Harper, GHD CIO, the cost-effective Riverbed solution enabled the rapid deployment of those new sites onto the company’s network, fueling stronger collaboration amongst project teams spread across the globe, business agility, and cost savings of an anticipated USD $1 million per year.

A new contender, just in time

While planning the North American expansion, GHD had been looking at a competing SD-WAN solution, but found it somewhat buggy and generally ill-equipped to meet the needs of their complex IT environment. Meanwhile, GHD had an existing five-year relationship with Riverbed, using products like SteelHead™ for application acceleration and SteelCentral™ for network performance monitoring.

“GHD has a longstanding relationship with Riverbed — their technology does what it says it’s going to do. Over time, we’ve replaced a lot of competitors’ equipment with Riverbed solutions,” explains Harper. “The team has really listened to us, and as a result, they’ve enabled us to create a network environment for GHD that truly performs and helps us meet client expectations.”

So when Riverbed revealed its then-forthcoming SteelConnect SD-WAN solution, GHD opted to wait a bit longer to be able to test the Riverbed product. The company had always had good experiences with Riverbed’s other solutions, liked SteelConnect’s subscription-based pricing model, and appreciated Riverbed’s worldwide support and global assistance center.

“Riverbed has been a trusted strategic partner in our success,” says Harper. “The Riverbed platform enabled us to optimize our network traffic, achieve greater visibility into our network and application performance, and simplify our branch office implementations. All of these are critical to driving the evolution of our business and our ability to serve our clients.”

The results are in

Implementation across the 100 North American offices took only four weeks, compared to the three months a legacy deployment would have required. Harper pointed out some of the key benefits GHD experienced:

  • Nearly zero-touch deployment: With SteelConnect, GHD could pre-configure a device via the cloud before sending it to the physical site. Then any remote employee could plug it in and have it on the network within minutes. Says Harper, “We see SteelConnect as a key enabler in being able to integrate newer organizations more quickly.”
  • Simplified global collaboration: GHD leverages over 3,000 applications, some of which are data and bandwidth intensive, and even hosts its own cloud. SteelConnect connected to this complex infrastructure with ease, granting remote workers in North America full access to business-critical tools.
  • Easy to manage and maintain: SteelConnect allows single-click creation of SD-WAN capabilities in the cloud and fully automates secure connectivity between cloud vendors and different branch locations. A unified management console lets IT configure every piece of the infrastructure from a single interface.
  • Cost effective: With the upgraded unified communication infrastructure, says Harper, VOIP comes standard. “Not only does this simplify sharing and collaboration, but we anticipate saving around 75% of our global telecommunications costs over the medium term.” When GHD brings SteelConnect to its larger offices, it anticipates saving over $1 million a year.

Mission accomplished

SteelConnect, says Harper, delivers the necessary agility for a growing business, and helps the company deliver a significant competitive advantage.

“We’ve connected smaller offices in a way they’ve never experienced before,” she says. “For the first time, end users have access to the full raft of our business services — just as though they were in a large office — and they really feel like they’re part of the same organization. This has made a tremendous cultural impact.”

To learn more, get in touch with your Riverbed rep or Riverbed Professional Services and ask how SteelConnect can help make your infrastructure thrive, too.

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