Case Study

SD-WAN implementation that brought 40% savings on WAN operational costs

Cisco SD-WAN implementation in a sugar production company

When the efficiency of the company’s applications and employees rely on network connectivity in their professional activities, a reliable and fast network between the company’s locations is fundamental for each organization.

One of the largest sugar manufacturers in Europe, Pfeifer & Langen Polska S.A., was struggling with low application performance, insufficient backups duration, and poor Internet access quality when its wide area network (WAN) was based on slow MPLS IP VPN links. Despite the slow link rates, the costs of the WAN services were high.

Customer:
  • Pfeifer & Langen Polska S.A
  • Sugar manufacturer, Diamant brand
  • 1000 Employees, 10 sites, EU presence
Services:
Products:
  • Cisco SD-WAN
  • SD-WAN cloud-based controllers
  • cEdge C1100 & vEdge Cloud routers
  • DNA Advantage, DNA Essentials
Grandmetric implements Cisco SD-WAN at a European sugar manufacturer

SD-WAN as a game changer

SD-WAN approach changes the way of thinking about the wide-area networking. The SD-WAN solution defines a secured and centrally managed overlay network abstraction that has independent logic of the underlying transmission technologies and service providers leveraging the most trusted algorithms for data encryption (see fig. 1).

SD-WAN implementation network concept
Figure 1. SD-WAN overlay concept

Thanks to the Software-Defined WAN, the company’s data is transported based on traffic policies defined by the organization, not by the service providers.

Moreover, SD-WAN is able to effectively utilize many links in parallel, using bandwidth that the company pays for. The whole infrastructure is managed by central controllers, which make sure that the wan routers are compliant, secured and the routing is consistent across the whole SD-WAN structure
(see fig. 2).

Cisco SD-WAN control data plane
Figure 2. Disaggregation, control, data plane

Traffic quality change

Some may say, that only the classic QoS (DSCP based), assured end-to-end across the dedicated network of the service provider is a guarantee of
traffic quality. In fact, this is one approach. Another one, the SD-WAN approach, is to use many different Internet access links and define the path quality requirements for particular applications that must be met.

If the performance of a particular path is degraded and the parameters fall down below the set level, the application traffic is automatically re-routed via another available path. It is worth mentioning, that the quality, bandwidth, and the availability of business Internet links nowadays are better than ever before and can meet most of the companies’ expectations
related to WAN performance.

Migration process to SD-WAN

One of the key objectives related to the migration of Pfeifer & Langen’s network was to preserve WAN production traffic without significant outages during the whole migration process. The dynamic protocol in WAN locations between MPLS CE routers and the client’s core devices was EIGRP.

There were also some redistributions performed into the routing process. As of now, Cisco SD-WAN (former Viptela) supports the OSPF and BGP routing on the service-side VPN. Based on the scalability and reconvergence
speed, the OSPF was chosen as a new Interior Gateway Protocol. The new protocol had to be introduced while maintaining current communication
via MPLS.

The challenge was, that there was no „day-zero” migration. Instead, there was a huge timeslot of about 3 months, when new Internet links were delivered by the new service provider to particular locations – one at a time. Thus, Grandmetric had to maintain both old and new routing for quite a long time, using loop-free topology.

The migration steps assumed Cisco vEdge cloud routers and cEdge Cisco C1100 provisioning, integration into the existing topology, and configuration to the final shape, without the outage. There was also a local Internet breakout requirement for each site, that needed to be secured by Cisco ASA FirePower. Each local ASA should assume the role of a primary Internet Gateway for the local site and, in case of failure, traffic to the Internet had to be re-routed via the central SD-WAN site.

For the given purpose, route filtering policy had to be configured between OSPF and OMP (Overlay Management Protocol) in SD-WAN as a central policy.

Speed and UX confirmed

During the migration, all services were preserved without a downtime experienced by the users. Just after the transparent WAN traffic change, users started seeing an application performance boost, increase in the Internet access speed and the IT team finally started having efficient backups.


Now, WAN and Internet links in each location are 5 to 10 times faster than before the migration to SD-WAN. This increase in available bandwidth is inversely proportional to links’ cost, which has decreased by around 40%.

says Marcin Jaźwiec, Pfeifer and Langen IT Manager

Great visibility

Another value claimed by IT was the WAN traffic visibility. They can now troubleshoot, go back to the path utilization history, answer questions and monitor WAN links’ performance. „The Wide Area Network visibility is one of the key tools in today’s IT operations,” says Marcin Jaźwiec.

SD-WAN management with vManage control dashboard

“Software-Defined” is the keyword, but another value that provides order and compliance is vManage – one management dashboard for all WAN administration activities. IT specialists can update configuration, verify routers’ status, monitor links, and troubleshoot WAN network from one place – vManage controller.

Figure 3. vManage traffic monitoring view
Figure 4. vManage SD-WAN inventory view

Cloud readiness

While the organization’s approach of having cloud services with business apps and systems is gaining popularity, connectivity between the company’s network and the cloud environment is needed. Thanks to Cisco SD-WAN solution, Pfeifer & Langen Polska S.A. is ready to adopt cloud solutions, using vEdgerouters that can be set up as virtualized instances
within the cloud provider’s infrastructure, connecting SD-WAN and cloud services.

Independence from service providers

Last but not least, as Marcin Jaźwiec said, „the SDWAN gave us the flexibility and arguments in negotiations with service providers. When a provider does not meet our expectations, we can look for an alternate one, without impacting the WAN infrastructure, because SD-WAN is a network
completely managed by us, and it is independent of service providers.
” What is also important, the SDWAN overlay can make use of many different service providers and transmission types at the same time.

Summary

Being the first Cisco SD-WAN-enabled company in Poland, Pfeifer & Langen Polska S.A. reduced the WAN operational costs by 40%, gained productivity, and improved user experience. IT operations were effectively optimized by utilizing the service provider’s links and becoming a cloud-ready organization

See also

Cisco SD-WAN Offer


Grandmetric delivers Cisco SD-WAN
and SD-WAN as a service.
We provide full portfolio
of Cisco sdwan routers from
C1000, ISR and industrial series.