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Cloud Cloud Networking

Quick-service Restaurant Discovers How to Redesign Network for Improved Customer Experience and Reduced Costs

Findings from Network Optimization Workshop reveal a 700 percent increase in connectivity throughput and $14M in savings over three years.

In This Case Study

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Challenge

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. knows it has to optimize its networks to maintain its position as a digital leader. Bringing innovative customer experiences to market will require leveraging cloud-hosted applications and services. However, because the company’s current MPLS model is inflexible, it is difficult for the company to incorporate new applications without introducing unacceptable levels of latency or inordinate costs. Additionally, the limited bandwidth of its T1 MPLS network, 1.5Mbps, doesn’t allow the company to prioritize application traffic, which could result in poor user experiences, or worse, store downtime.

Needing a network built for global cloud connectivity, the QSR participated in a Network Optimization Workshop with WWT, an eight-week engagement that uncovers the business impact of network modernization as well as application and cloud connectivity.

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Our Process

Current-state discovery

The network optimization process started with a current-state discovery exercise that involved a combination of inspections, interviews and workshops. From this investigation, several key findings were identified.

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.

Future-state recommendations

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 cloud 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 (software-defined wide area network/secure access service edge) 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, 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 moving to multiple Equinix data centers, the QSR would also be well positioned to deploy programmatic connections via API (application programming interface) to new cloud and service providers, opening up new business opportunities as well as unlocking the ability to adjust bandwidth as needed.

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Results

In addition to the business possibilities of leveraging Equinix, the QSR discovered that such a move would lead to staggering cost savings and performance improvements. The company is currently paying $237 per Mbps of connectivity per month and is 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 increasing the 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 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 future 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 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.