Quick-service Restaurant Discovers How to Redesign Network for Improved Customer Experience and Reduced Costs
In This Case Study
Quick service restaurants (QSRs) must constantly find ways to bring new levels of convenience to customers, from personalized online ordering to rapid curbside pick-up to contactless dining. But as companies add technology to front- and back-of-store operations, they often find their networks can't provide the performance needed to support new customer experiences.
A QSR with hundreds of restaurants across the U.S. knew it had to optimize its networks to maintain its position as a digital leader. Bringing innovative customer experiences to market would require leveraging cloud-hosted applications and services. However, because the company's current MPLS model was inflexible, it was difficult for the company to incorporate new applications without introducing unacceptable levels of latency or inordinate costs. Additionally, the limited bandwidth of their existing T1 MPLS network, 1.5Mbps, didn't allow the company to prioritize application traffic -- a shortcoming that could result in poor user experiences or even worse, store downtime.
Needing a modern network built for global cloud connectivity, the QSR participated in a Network Optimization Workshop with WWT. This eight-week engagement is designed to uncover the business impact of the an organization's network, application ecosystem and cloud connectivity goals.
The network optimization process started with a current-state discovery exercise that involved a combination of inspections, interviews and workshops. From this investigation, we identified several key findings.
First, each of the company's restaurants was leveraging MPLS for primary connectivity, which provided limited bandwidth at a high cost per megabyte. Second, Zoom and Microsoft Teams had become standard meeting applications after proving valuable as communication and collaboration platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lastly, the QSR was familiar with SD-WAN and had even conducted a product comparison proof of concept.
After analyzing data from more than 200 of the QSR's restaurants and familiarizing ourselves with the company's business objectives, a new network design was recommended that would deliver global cloud connectivity and strategic geographic placement through Equinix. By leveraging Equinix's proximity to major public cloud service providers and direct connections to business partners in Equinix data centers, we found the QSR could evolve its WAN architecture to enhance end-user experiences and allow for future design innovations.
Based on the Network Optimization Workshop, WWT recommended the QSR take the following steps:
- Create Regionalized Performance Hubs™ to aggregate connections, facilitating the basis for the QSR's distributed services delivery platform.
- Construct transport connections via layer 2 carrier ethernet between the Performance Hubs.
- Incorporate LTE as backup path.
- Choose an SD-WAN/SASE provider and launch the fabric as new connections are installed to Equinix facilities.
We also recommended that the company leverage Equinix International Business Exchange™ to cross connect to business partners that also have a presence in Equinix data centers for highly reliable, extremely low-latency communication, as well as system integration and data exchange.
Additionally, a new circuit into Equinix that's larger in capacity would allow voice and conferencing traffic to cross the same circuit as other traffic without connection or quality issues.
By migrating to multiple Equinix data centers, the QSR would also be well positioned to deploy programmatic connections via APIs to new cloud and service providers. In addition to new business opportunities, migration would allow the QSR to adjust bandwidth as needed.
The QSR discovered that migrating to multiple Equinix data centers would lead to staggering cost savings and performance improvements. At the time, the company was paying $237 per Mbps of connectivity per month using a 1.54 Mbps connection at restaurants with their T1 MPLS.
Approximately two dozen locations were identified where the QSR could recognize $200/month savings per site while simultaneously increase bandwidth from 1.5 Mbps to 10 Mpbs. If the company were to use Equinix for all restaurant connectivity, the cost per Mbps per month would drop even further. Many sites would also have a cost-effective option for 100 Mbps connections, providing 65 times more bandwidth than the QSR's existing T1.
Should the company move forward with WWT's recommendations and transition strategy, it will increase connectivity throughput at restaurants by 700 percent and realize cost savings of $14M over three years.
By participating in WWT's Network Optimization Workshop, the company is now positioned to build a network capable of supporting the types of digital customer experiences needed to thrive in today's competitive QSR market and save money in the process.