Case Study

Beverage Manufacturer Validates Large-scale Router Migration Plan to Enhance End-user Experience

A highly customized proof of concept in the WWT Advanced Technology Center leads to 100 percent confidence in rolling out Cisco IWAN

Challenge

The networking team of a large beverage manufacturer found themselves in a tricky situation when it came to upgrading their WAN environment.

Business units were calling on the team to leverage existing carrier investments in combination with new routing architectures to drive down operating costs, while at the same time gain higher network performance and an improved end-user experience. For this organization, a migration to Cisco IWAN would be extensive and require replacing obsolete routers in locations that spanned three continents.

Any hiccups causing an interruption of service or any kind of impact on existing infrastructure simply wasn’t an option. The networking team needed a surefire way to demonstrate to IT leadership that a production pilot of IWAN would work, seamlessly, and provide them with a solid migration and refresh plan that could be executed with confidence.

Asked to start a pilot of IWAN in their production environment in January 2016, the team turned to WWT to take advantage of our lab services capabilities to execute a proof of concept (POC) under a demanding deadline. Time was of the essence as the submission of budget numbers to business units was imminent.

Solution

The POC was run out of our Advanced Technology Center (ATC). While we had performed IWAN POCs before, there were three things our ATC engineers immediately did to make this one more relevant to the customer.

First, we included their legacy routers as part of the POC topology. We installed them in the POC along with new IWAN routers to prove that a hardware migration would not impact service or require any major changes to the organization’s current networking implementation.

Second, because this organization has managed service providers that manage, maintain and dictate the supported network protocols on their data center and WAN routers, we had to vet out routing protocols outside of IWAN best practices as well as modify where we terminated the IWAN headend components in their network design versus what we had done for past IWAN POCs.

Lastly, the organization’s leadership wanted to ensure that their cloud-based services would not only continue to function, but would actually perform better under the new architecture. In particular, Outlook 365 and Office 365 were required to run seamlessly with a migration to IWAN. Using a switch provided in our ATC conference room, the customer team was able to plug their own laptops into the POC environment as if they were a branch user during the POC. They were able to immediately connect to their cloud applications with no impact to network performance and prove out the offloading of cloud traffic to local connections.

POC Topology - IWAN and Beverage Manufacturer

Under a one-month deadline to complete the POC, ATC engineers, Cisco counterparts and the customer’s networking team used a Cisco Webex teams room for tight, immediate collaboration. This particularly proved invaluable when evaluating which generation of IWAN routers would be acceptable for the POC.

Given the complex nature of the customer’s managed service provider network, WWT engineering teams discussed specific functionalities in detail around PFRv3 with the customer. WWT engineering teams then demonstrated how PFRv3 works by showing traffic flows over MPLS and Internet circuits at the customer branch sites.

In addition, the architects were able to provide insights into Cisco’s roadmap for specific IWAN components as well as reach out to their Cisco counterparts for clarification around architecture functionality within the customer’s specific design needs.

Conclusion

Within a month, the customer’s networking team was able to go back to their manager and say the organization’s proposed IWAN migration strategy was proven out completely and the company could roll out their IWAN deployments across North America, Europe and Asia starting in 2016.

Business outcomes as a result of this POC included:

  1. Time to Market: The customer was able to bring back information to business units under tight budget timelines, ensuring a pilot of cutting-edge technology could move forward in the coming year and differentiate the organization’s network.
  2. Quality Assurance: Based on extra steps such as including the customer’s legacy equipment and current end-user hardware in the POC, the organization’s networking team was assured that a migration to IWAN would be successful.
  3. Confidence in Decisions: After the POC, the networking team had the documentation they needed for management to be 100 percent confident that they could lock in budget numbers for a large-scale deployment of a new technology.