With well-known brands like Celestial Seasonings, Earth’s Best, Greek Gods, Alba Botanica and West Soy, The Hain Celestial Group is a leading organic and natural products company. The company, which operates in North America, Europe and India, had $2.2 billion in sales in 2014 and was listed as one of Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies in 2014.
Paying for something you can’t use is throwing money away. We reduced our monthly costs, improved performance and improved reliability with Talari.
Director of IT Infrastructure, The Hain Celestial Group
The Hain Celestial Group’s strategy to meet consumers’ growing appetite for natural and organic foods is based on innovation and acquisition, and sustaining success means that its network infrastructure must scale efficiently.
“In certain locations, we had 50 users sharing one MPLS T1 connection, but as our service portfolio has grown and applications are delivered from a centralized data center, that’s not enough bandwidth anymore,” says David Rahbany, Director of Enterprise IT Infrastructure at The Hain Celestial Group.
Employees were complaining about the quality of phone calls and slow applications.
In search of a way to pump up the WAN, Rahbany and Scott Steinke, Network and Security Engineer at The Hain Celestial Group, first tested three WAN optimization products: Riverbed, Exinda and SilverPeak.
“We attempted to address the basic, easy- to-quantify challenge of updating ShoreTel firmware over the wire,” says Rahbany. “But the WAN optimization products couldn’t accomplish the code update with the bandwidth we had. We thought the test was a softball for the WAN optimization vendors, but it was surprisingly difficult.”
Worse was that WAN optimization products interfered with legitimate business traffic without heavy-duty tuning. “We’re about to embark on a Lifesize videoconferencing deployment across the enterprise, and we would have to anticipate and make accommodations within the WAN optimization to handle the new application,” says Steinke. “Using WAN optimization was like squeezing water from a stone.”
Plus, increasing WAN capacity wasn’t the singular goal. “In addition to increasing capacity, we had a secondary objective to create a resilient network that could withstand a circuit failure and leverage redundancy to keep services running,” says Rahbany. “WAN optimization does nothing to address the reliability issue.”
The company used mobile broadband connections and a stew of routing protocols running at key locations to serve as backup connections if the primary MPLS circuits failed. “In theory, there would be failover between the two circuits, but the reality was different,” says Rahbany. “If an MPLS circuit went down, the failover would take 30 seconds to three minutes. Everyone’s sessions would be disconnected and calls, conferences and ERP sessions would drop.”
Rahbany learned about Oracle (formerly Talari) on an industry blog. Oracle (formerly Talari) creates a Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) by bringing real-time, packet-level intelligence to the network. With Oracle (formerly Talari), The Hain Celestial Group has increased WAN capacity, improved network resiliency and lowered costs. Phone calls and videoconferences are loud and clear. ERP, finance and other applications are speedy and unimpeded by network congestion or link failure.
The Hain Celestial Group deployed Oracle (formerly Talari) in eight locations and two data centers and plans to roll out another four locations.
Manufacturing plants in Southern California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were the first to benefit from Oracle (formerly Talari), since they were experiencing the biggest bandwidth crunch. The difference was immediately apparent.
“The transformation of our employee customers before and after the Talari deployment was remarkable,” says Rahbany.
Calls to the helpdesk are down. “I was working helpdesk tickets like crazy, trying to figure out what was eating up bandwidth. I spent a lot of time analyzing traffic. All that went away when Talari was deployed. It was a major win. The helpdesk isn’t getting calls because of slow applications, and that has given me a lot more time to deal with my other job—network security,” says Steinke.
Having an SD-WAN has been vital for business continuity. The Hain Celestial Group replicates between its data centers in Colorado and New York using a 20Mbps MPLS VPN as the primary connection and a 100Mbps Internet connection that could only be used during a failure. With Oracle (formerly Talari), all of that bandwidth can be used—all the time. “Talari added an obvious win for data-center-to-data-center optimization and link aggregation,” says Rahbany. “We are pumping tons of data between our data centers, and that will only increase.”
Having an Oracle (formerly Talari) SD-WAN gives the natural and organic foods company the flexibility to choose the best—and most cost-effective— WAN link for each location. The business hasn’t experienced any WAN downtime since deploying Oracle (formerly Talari). “Circuits have gone down, but Talari has allowed us to have the resiliency we need for 100-percent uptime,” notes Steinke.
Using Oracle (formerly Talari) has had unexpected benefits, too. “Commodity Internet has been performing really well. These Internet connections are running at a lower latency than MPLS, too,” says Steinke.
Using Oracle (formerly Talari) is changing how The Hain Celestial Group views its service providers. “Talari has liberated us from dependency on a particular carrier,” says Steinke. “If one carrier can’t deliver in a particular location, we can choose the cheapest broadband provider, and it works.”
“We had light-bulb thinking about Talari’s return on investment,” says Rahbany. “For many of our WAN connections where we had redundancy, we were paying for bandwidth we weren’t using. Our backup links were costing money, but we were largely leaving them unused unless there was an outage.”
Rahbany measures ROI in dollars per usable Mbps, “which is how much we’re spending on bandwidth we can use,” he says. “The Talari ROI is very favorable. In some circumstances, we can reduce our usable-megabit-per-second cost by a factor of 10 or 15. It wasn’t obvious at first, but we were paying for a resource that we didn’t use, and we need to take the opportunity cost into consideration.”
For instance, in its Pennsylvania location, The Hain Celestial Group was paying $453 per usable Mbps per month. With Oracle (formerly Talari), it was able to replace an expensive mobile broadband backup line with commodity Internet, and it now pays $40 per usable Mbps per month. “Paying for something you can’t use is throwing money away,” says Rahbany. “We reduced our monthly costs, improved performance and improved reliability with Talari.”
Having an Oracle (formerly Talari) also has improved visibility into what’s happening on the network. “Talari has become our best indicator of network performance from a NOC perspective,” says Rahbany. “Talari gives us better detail and a simpler view than other network monitoring tools.”
The Hain Celestial Group uses Oracle (formerly Talari) Aware, a centralized management system to configure, monitor and analyze the Oracle (formerly Talari)-enabled WAN. Oracle (formerly Talari) Aware makes it easy to configure Oracle (formerly Talari) for new locations and simplifies monitoring and analyzing the WAN. Flexible reports make it easy to get an executive-level view—and drill down as needed.
Oracle (formerly Talari) has given The Hain Celestial Group an important negotiating advantage when service providers don’t meet their service-level agreements. “We’ve been able to hold carriers’ feet to the fire to show them where network quality has deteriorated,” says Rahbany. “I love catching carriers off guard with the volume and accuracy of the data that Talari provides,” says Steinke.
That visibility allows this organic and natural food company to negotiate from a position of strength. “We consider Talari as a strategic partner in our next-generation WAN design,” says Rahbany. “We’re creating an RFP for carriers to deliver MPLS and Internet for our WAN services. We can use a combination and not worry about how much MPLS we have. Talari is an enabler for determining where we go next for the network.”
I spent a lot of time analyzing traffic. All that went away when Talari was deployed. It was a major win.
Network and Security Engineer, The Hain Celestial Group