Consolidating 10 dispersed branch offices into one virtualised data centre can produce significant savings, as Australia's second largest manufacturer of non-alcoholic and non-dairy beverages P&N Beverages found out three years ago.
But, along with the benefits came some pain, particularly in application and file performance at branch offices.
Where once staff could open and share files quickly, following the consolidation some office employees were faced with waiting for their data to traverse the WAN for upwards of 20 minutes. And as P&N Beverages IT manager, Joe Esposito, says that was never going to work as “people hate waiting”.
“We first went into a data centre and then thought how can we improve the performance for branch offices without adding any extra cost on the LAN? I think WAN optimisation was the big topic back then so we looked at getting on board with something that was good,” he said.
“It is pretty important. We had an instance at one branch office where we found a lot of people were struggling to do what they wanted to do. They were used to optimisation and performance for file sharing especially. When you take that away and it goes back to what it was you see a massive decrease in performance.”
After evaluating the various product offerings on the market Esposito settled on the Blue Coat ProxySG offering over the company’s MPLS network to complement what is generally a Dell shop virtualised with VMware.
“One of our main objectives was to move all of our data into the data centre as much as we could for consolidation and security. Moving forward we looked at application performance in regards to exchange and other applications that we use,” he said.
“We did want to look at terminal services as well, but at the moment it is not really Blue Coat’s forte. The other side too was we were also looking at a solution for remote access to our VPN and content filtering of the internet which was critical.”
He now expects to save close to $100,000 a year and agreed post-consolidation network requirements were an often overlooked part of the virtualisation process that other IT managers should address.