The Sol Group Chooses Riverbed SD-WAN Solution to Connect 40 Offices in 23 Countries


The Sol Group, the largest independent supplier of petroleum-based products to the Caribbean basin, is using Riverbed SteelConnect to greatly simplify network management for its 40 branch offices throughout the region.

MOREFor details about the solution, read the full Sol Group case study.

SteelConnect is a software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and cloud networking solution that provides all branch and local offices with fast and secure access to the company’s centralized business applications and is helping accelerate Sol’s adoption of cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings.

SteelConnect significantly reduces the management complexity posed by the variety of connectivity options the company uses in its hybrid network across the Caribbean, which include MPLS, Internet and cellular. Sol plans to soon expand the use of SteelConnect to other business segments in its network.

The Sol Group is the largest independent petroleum marketing company in the Caribbean basin, with operations spanning 23 countries. The company supplies fuels, lubricants, and LPG through an extensive service station network and supplies petroleum-based products to commercial customers involved in shipping, luxury boating, aviation, mining, trucking and fleet operations. The business is managed by 40 local offices supported by the corporate head office in Barbados.

“We're in many different countries that are separated by water. There are different governments, different regulations, and different technologies being used,” explained Earl Mayers, regional IT manager for The Sol Group. We needed to find a networking solution that would allow us to have effective communications and reduce our TCO on such a diverse infrastructure.”

Simplifying remote IT management while assuring digital performance was a major concern several years ago as the company looked to centralize its core business applications. Prior to that, applications were hosted locally, making the role of the network less important while also having a high TCO.

To ensure that all branch and local offices would have fast and secure access to financial systems and other applications once they were delivered over long distances from a data center, Mayers was looking at very expensive upgrades to existing circuits. “We saw that the cost was going to be tremendous, or the centralization wasn’t going to be effective,” Mayers explained.

Instead he turned to SD-WAN, which offered the advantage of managing multiple types of network connections with one solution. After looking at several companies’ offerings, he chose Riverbed SteelConnect. “We felt very strong about the ability of Riverbed to actually deliver. In addition, going with Riverbed gives us the option to scale up and integrate other Riverbed technologies,” Mayers said.

“Any non-technical end user can just plug the device in and it functions at once...It’s fantastic.”

- Earl Mayers, regional IT manager for The Sol Group

For Mayers, the main benefit of SteelConnect is the ease of network management. Not only can he monitor the network from a single pane of glass, but changes that used to take hours now take just one or two clicks, with application-centric policies that automatically get pushed to all appliances.

“The ease of administration, the ability to make changes – it's simplified but it's not simplistic. It is simple enough to understand but so powerful,” he added.

The ease of management extends beyond his office, which is important because only six of the 40 remote offices have an IT specialist on site. Today, when Mayers needs to add a new location to the network, he can design first, and deploy later. Using SteelConnect “shadow appliances,” The Sol Group defines performance and security policies ahead of time, then simply ships the SteelConnect to the remote site when ready. Anyone at that location can plug it in.

“It could be an accountant, a salesperson, or someone at the front desk,” Mayers noted. “Any non-technical end user can just plug the device in and it functions at once. We can access it from anywhere with an Internet connection. It’s fantastic.”

Mayers said that calls regarding connectivity problems stopped after SteelConnect was installed, and that the centralization of the financial system and other applications is working well.

With SteelConnect in place, and the ability to bring in other integrated Riverbed solutions as needed, such as SteelHead SaaS (for accelerating public cloud-based applications), and SteelCentral (for application and network performance monitoring), Mayers feels ready for the future. “Longer-term, we are going to bring other business segments into the network and leverage some of the benefits of cloud-based solutions,” he said. “With Riverbed, we are future-proofing our plans, while reducing our TCO.”

Continued SteelConnect Momentum and Innovation

SteelConnect, initially launched as an early access offering in April 2016, is the industry’s first and only product that provides unified connectivity and policy-based orchestration spanning the entire network – LAN/WLAN (including cloud-based Riverbed Xirrus Wi-Fi), WAN, data center and the cloud, with one-click connectivity and optimization into AWS and Microsoft Azure. SteelConnect also enables zero-touch provisioning, allowing an enterprise to set-up a global network and connect to the cloud in minutes, and easy ongoing network management that provides the ability to make network or business/application policy changes with a few clicks of a mouse.

Since the initial launch of SteelConnect, Riverbed has continued a rapid pace of innovation, introducing a broad set of unique capabilities, including integration with SteelCentral for visibility and insight, integration with the market-leading WAN Optimization solution (Riverbed SteelHead SD), and following the strategic acquisition of Xirrus (leading cloud-based Wi-Fi company) in May 2017, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi – bringing the power of policy-based network management out to the wireless edge. SteelConnect also seamlessly integrates with third-party network security services, such as Zscaler’s cloud security platform, to help IT professionals achieve agility, performance and security across the distributed enterprise.

Learn more about Riverbed's SD-WAN solutions