Coastal Beverage Company, a Wilmington, N.C.-based beverage distributor, wanted to launch video conferencing among its four sites, but IT manager Charlie Pope knew bandwidth would be an issue.
"Our locations are in rural areas, so adding more bandwidth to the sites can be really expensive," he said. He decided to optimize his existing bandwidth before purchasing more for video conferencing and other new applications.
Product evaluation: Try before you buy
Coastal Beverage was looking for a virtual WAN optimization product because some of the company's sites do not have an in-house IT presence. Pope and his team would rather manage software remotely than hardware.
Pope was drawn to the Silver Peak WAN acceleration virtual marketplace, which allows enterprises to test drive virtual WAN optimization software before purchasing, granting users to experience the benefits of optimization before committing money.
IT was able to quickly download, implement and test the VX 1000 appliance without requiring any assistance from Silver Peak, Pope said, noting that IT enjoyed the benefit of seeing actual optimization results within the virtual environment, without making any upfront commitments.
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During the evaluation period with one VX 1000, IT noticed substantial decreases in both data replication and exchange traffic. The decrease in traffic freed up bandwidth to allow for Coastal Beverage to ship its distribution logs over the WAN -- a project that couldn’t be accomplished prior to deploying the virtual WAN appliance.
"After seeing the results during the testing period with [the first VX 1000 appliance], we knew [the logs] wouldn't impact any of our other traffic negatively," Pope said, noting that Coastal Beverage was able to achieve this goal without adding any additional bandwidth.
The company purchased and installed four VX 1000's -- one at each office location -- at the end of the evaluation period.
While the addition of video conferencing over the WAN that the company plans to implement will result in a necessary bandwidth upgrade, the implementation of virtual WAN optimization at each site has allowed for a much smaller upgrade than previously expected, Pope noted.
Without Silver Peak, Coastal Beverage would have added 7 Mbps of bandwidth to its central site and 3 Mbps to each remote site. “We would have had to purchase much more bandwidth than we will now -- and incur the reoccurring charges associated with that bandwidth," he said, noting the company is now adding 4 Mbps to its central site and 2 Mbps to each remote site.
Virtual WAN optimization: Getting the most from existing IT infrastructure
Gaining more control over quality of service for each application has been just as important for Coastal Beverage as lowering bandwidth demand and enabling new projects and applications.
Data replication for disaster recovery and allowing remote locations to access the same critical business applications as the company's Wilmington office is a priority that Coastal Beverage struggled with prior to the implementation of virtual WAN optimization, Pope said.
Users have noticed the shorter data transfer times, as well as the more steady supply of bandwidth resources.
"Previously, if [an employee] was moving a large file, it would affect everything because it would just consume the entirety of the bandwidth, slowing everything else down," Pope said, noting that the virtual appliances help to control activities like file transfers.
"We can now prioritize important traffic for tasks like file sharing, and allocate certain amounts of bandwidth per business application," he said, noting that Silver Peak's simple interface on the VX 1000 software makes it easier to manage bandwidth across all four locations.