Global IT consultancy chooses cloud WAN optimization over hardware

Gina Narcisi

ThoughtWorks, a global software design and IT consultancy provider is tapping application delivery and WAN Optimization as a Service technology to address network and application performance concerns, and to help close the gap between global offices and users. With 27 offices in 11 countries to manage, ThoughtWorks' IT organization knew that maintaining a WAN optimization appliance at the edge of each location wasn't going to be cost-effective -- especially when the applications based in its Chicago data center had to serve its global locations daily.

Rather than install WAN optimization at every office, the company chose Aryaka's WAN Optimization as a Service from the vendor's cloud WAN optimization service. The successful implementation has prompted the company to contemplate retiring its expensive MPLS links.

"We needed stable and more effective global WAN connectivity between our offshore offices -- like India, China and Brazil -- and our other geographies, like North America and Australia," said Nitin Raina, director of global IT for ThoughtWorks.

Cloud WAN optimization beats hardware

ThoughtWorks was using [Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)] links to connect its Chicago, London and Bangalore locations, with E1 and T1 connections for some of the smaller offices prior to adopting a company-wide WAN optimization strategy. But after consolidating the financial operations team in China, the company knew that some U.S.-based applications -- like PeopleSoft's human resources management system -- would perform very poorly over long distances.

"Our management software tools were not giving us good response times and were not productive enough for our users located in China. That's when we started actively looking into solutions to solve these concerns," Raina said.

ThoughtWorks started researching application and network performance vendors -- like Riverbed and Cisco -- but couldn't afford the capital investment required for a hardware installation. "We didn't want to put in a full-fledged MPLS link solution at all the sites that could take months to get up and running, either," he said.

The company began a trial of Aryaka's WAN Optimization as a Service between its U.S. and Chinese locations. While consolidating an operation to one country was a risky project for ThoughtWorks, using a cloud-based WAN optimization strategy became a safe bet. "Our users in the China office were able to quickly access critical applications housed in Chicago, and [employees] were telling us they had LAN-like performance," Raina said.

ThoughtWorks rolled out Aryaka's cloud-based WAN optimization offering across several other locations following a successful trial. The service has enhanced communications between the San Francisco-based ThoughtWorks studio product division and an office in Bangalore, India.

The two offices were not able to access each other's resources prior to the Aryaka rollout -- a problem that Raina and his team were not sure that WAN optimization could help overcome, due to the size of the files that had to be frequently sent back and forth between California and India for co-development. "This problem was really affecting the ability to [collaborate] between the two offices. When we commissioned the second link, we immediately saw an excellent performance increase between the two locations," he said.

Management and security from a cloud-based service

A cloud-based delivery model for WAN optimization offers application delivery monitoring and management perks that users couldn't necessarily get from a virtual or physical appliance.

More on cloud WAN optimization

Virtual WAN optimization could speed public cloud adoption

Vendors improve SaaS performance with cloud WAN optimization

Cloud WAN optimization: Beneficial for mobile users

"The monitoring piece is also like a managed service for us," Raina said. "I typically don't worry about our connectivity unless I notice a problem, but Aryaka is proactive in monitoring links and they do give us reports, keep us updated and open tickets on our behalf."

The cloud doesn't come without security concerns, and ThoughtWorks reviewed the service-level agreement and network considerations carefully. "After reviewing the mechanism that we are using to transmit data over their WAN links, we were satisfied that it looked to be a very secure solution," he said.

ThoughtWorks plans to expand its global WAN connectivity between other locations, like China and Australia, and the optimization offered by Aryaka could allow ThoughtWorks to switch to cheaper WAN links in some locations.

"We have between 18-20 sites talking to each other daily, so we will be revising our WAN strategy," Raina said. "Aryaka will play a critical role in that back-end connectivity. … We look forward to not renewing our MPLS contracts where we had those services."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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