Brisbane-based mining and heavy equipment supplier Hastings Deering has achieved a rapid ROI with a WAN optimisation project spread across 16 remote office locations.
The Hastings Deering Group sells and supports Caterpillar heavy equipment used in the mining and construction industries across Queensland, the Northern Territory and the South Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea.
With a large network of 65 nodes connecting to corporate applications in Brisbane, CIO John Birch says there was a constant battle to keep branch response times low for all its applications.
“About 18 months ago we decided to take a look at network options other than just increasing bandwidth and we started exploring WAN optimisation products,” Birch says.
Hastings Deering runs an iSeries-based ERP application, Lotus Notes for e-mail and workflow and a number of Web-based applications. File and print servers are also located at remote sites.
The network is based on Cisco equipment, but initially Hastings Deering looked at other products and then came back to Cisco which “seemed to offer more options”.
“The Cisco devices attached to the local router so it leveraged existing infrastructure,” Birch said.
Some 16 Cisco wide area application services (WAAS) appliances were deployed in major branch offices progressively over the past six months. Devices in Singapore and Hong Kong will be deployed next.
“We’ve been seeing somewhere between 150 to 400 per cent improvement in network performance and we haven’t had to upgrade the bandwidth,” Birch said. “There was the upfront capital cost of $100,000 and the benefits accrue.”
Birch said the international links are expensive so the estimated savings are about $400,000 per year making the ROI for the project as fast as 3 months.
Hasting Deering recently moved to a Telstra private IP network from frame relay, and is also in the middle of rolling out a VoIP to number of its branches, also based on Cisco technology.
“We’re using Cisco CallManager for VoIP and IPFX for call centres in our branches,: Birch said.
“On average our bandwidth is a 1Mbps link, ranging from 256Mbps to 4Mbps. The Notes traffic is the heaviest user of bandwidth.”
“We also do overnight backups of the local branch servers to Brisbane. For Papua New Guinea we were struggling to complete the overnight backup, now we are doing it easily.”
Birch said the biggest intangible benefit of the WAN optimisation project is the faster response time, which increases user productivity.
Senior network engineer Jon Luthje said there are a few new concepts with the Cisco WAAS infrastructure, but for the most part it is the same architecture as the rest of the Cisco range.