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United Drug saves €30k-plus a year with Silver Peak WAN optimisation

Antony Adshead
Ezine

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Irish multinational drug maker United Drug has implemented Silver Peak WAN optimisation devices that have improved application performance, upgraded disaster recovery provision and saved on bandwidth costs to the tune of €30,000 per year.

The WAN optimisation implementation forms part of a revamp of network and disaster recovery (DR) provision under the company’s “Crystal” project, which aims to boost the effectiveness of the business and its IT service and will see the current number of 26 IT sites slimmed down to three or four main datacentres globally.

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United Drug has grown through acquisition over the past two years to span 23 countries and 8,000 employees. It has around 200 locations overall, mostly in western Europe, with 10 sites in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, plus six sites in Britain.

Key applications for the business are ERP, quality management, business intelligence, Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and Office. The company runs on an infrastructure of EMC VNX unified storage subsystems, Cisco networking gear and x86 servers from Dell, HP and IBM. Data replication between sites is dealt with by EMC’s switch-based replication product RecoverPoint.

Core applications are delivered from centralised country hubs to remote sites but United Drug was suffering latency issues that affected replication between the company’s main site in Dublin, second production site in Belfast, as well as to a new dedicated DR site in Dublin. 

Also, poor replication performance affected United Drug’s disaster recovery provision, said IT director Tim Buckley.

"We had a newly-deployed MPLS WAN but were struggling to get the performance we wanted for key apps. We also wanted to change our DR landscape completely. That’s why we looked at WAN optimisation,” he said.

So far, in Ireland and the British mainland United Drug has deployed Silver Peak VX-5000 WAN optimisation appliances at central hubs with NX-3700s at remote sites. The devices have been rolled out to 12 sites so far. The project will see Silver Peak hardware rolled out to the rest of Europe in 2013 and other worldwide sites in 2014.

WAN optimisation products reduce the load on existing bandwidth by a combination of data deduplication, caching and optimisation of network protocols and application traffic. WAN optimisation is often deployed to help with replication of data between sites to effect disaster recovery provision.

Buckley said the Silver Peak implementation had seen network traffic efficiency improve by between 50% and 90% and that this had boosted application performance and allowed effective disaster recovery provision to be assured. He estimated that the company had avoided bandwidth upgrade costs of €30,000 this year, with increasing savings expected over the next few years.

“Remote office locations have seen much improved app response times and WAN traffic is much improved. Disaster recovery now presents a much lower risk for a company of our stature,” said Buckley.

Silver Peak was chosen in an evaluation process alongside Dublin-based reseller Comsys from a field of WAN optimisation vendors that also included Blue Coat Systems, Cisco and Riverbed. Buckley wouldn’t give details on why Silver Peak was chosen other than to say it came out best on “speed, quality and cost”.

Asked how could Silver Peak improve its product in future, Buckley said: “Currently when Silver Peak devices go down at remote sites we have to reboot them from the central hub. It’d be good if this wasn’t necessary in future, although we haven’t checked the upgrade documentation so they may have already addressed this.”


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