IT execs tout benefits of SD-WAN

The Bay Club Company and Autodesk are improving service quality and availability while reducing WAN costs

fave raves sd wan
Prakash Kota and Mark Street

Enterprises are adopting software-defined WAN to simplify branch office connectivity, improve application performance, and better manage WAN expenses, according to Gartner, which predicts that spending on SD-WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020.

“While WAN architectures and technologies tend to evolve at a very slow pace — perhaps a new generation every 10 to 15 years — the disruptions caused by the transformation to digital business models are driving adoption of SD-WAN at a pace that is unheard of in wide-area networking,” Gartner writes.

Two early adopters of SD-WAN shared some of the gains they’re realizing from the technology. The Bay Club Company and Autodesk are deploying SD-WAN technology from VeloCloud and CloudGenix, respectively, to transform the way they provision and support remote sites.

Specifically, the switch to SD-WAN technology from VeloCloud has allowed The Bay Club Company to provision new health club sites more quickly and less expensively than legacy WAN approaches.

"VeloCloud has helped us deliver reliable corporate services on less than desirable Internet circuits, among other things, enabling the business to quickly integrate new club acquisitions,” says Mark Street, director of IT at The Bay Club Company, which operates 24 family-focused clubs that offer golf, tennis, swimming, fitness and food services throughout California. Street took part in Network World’s annual Fave Raves project, which invites IT pros to talk about their favorite enterprise tech products.

“The VeloCloud product is incredibly easy to deploy and manage though a single portal, which makes the solution immensely scalable. The cloud control plane allows for consistent policies to be deployed to all edge devices, with the added benefit of edge override if needed,” Street says. “The cost is readily affordable and for us, cheaper than our current solution. Even without the direct cost benefit, these devices really deliver ROI."

As The Bay Club Company continues to expand through acquisitions and opening new locations, the ability to accelerate the provisioning of new clubs – without having to provision costly MPLS circuits, for example – has an immediate impact on the company’s bottom line. “This relates directly to availability of member-based services and operational efficiencies, which for a dues/membership-based business is huge. The IT department becomes a revenue driver, helping the business gain new members and grow available services,” Street says.

Looking ahead, The Bay Club Company plans to expand its VeloCloud deployment. “We are going to be able to deliver solid QoS and application filtering, and blend existing corporate and member Internet connections, providing disaster recovery without the typical cost,” Street says. “As we grow and move further into our private/public cloud implementations, a solid network core is essential to our success.”

At Autodesk, meanwhile, the switch to SD-WAN is having a similar impact on the software maker’s branch office infrastructure.

CloudGenix unifies our connectivity by allowing all our offices, including remote small offices, to be connected together in a mesh network through the Internet, instead of some through hub sites, and it provides better performance overall and meets our business Internet requirements,” says Prakash Kota, vice president of IT at San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk, which makes 3D design and engineering software. “It increases the access speed and performance of our enterprise applications, which in turn provide our end users more efficiency and make them more productive.”

As the company grows, the CloudGenix ION technology will allow Kota and his team to provision branch offices faster, using simpler hardware and connectivity options.

“CloudGenix will [speed] the deployment time of Internet connectivity for future new Autodesk sites and provide our business with Internet access in days versus months by reducing the connectivity requirements and allowing Autodesk to utilize commodity services such as purchasing Internet circuits [instead of] MPLS hardware,” Kota says.

Looking ahead, the future for Autodesk is all about automation.

“I am big on automation,” Kota says. “I have a rule that any activity that must be done more than once should be automated. It is easy in large organizations for us to fall into the inefficiencies created by manual processes. The only way a nearly $20 billion organization competes with startups is by relentlessly automating – this drives efficient usage of resources, and [lets us] focus on the most business impacting activity.”

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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