SI Group is a privately held global leader with more than 100 years of innovation in chemistry. More than 2,800 employees work on products that are integral to countless industrial and consumer goods, ranging from Ibuprofen to the adhesive that makes Teflon stick to pans.
We’ve gained more bandwidth and reduced costs 40 to 80 percent while increasing network reliability with Talari.
CIO, SI Group
Look made it his mission to find a solution that ensured network availability even when individual circuits were down. He started his search in 2009 – before the term SD-WAN even came into fashion – and found Oracle in 2012.
“One magical day, my infrastructure lead told me she had found the box I was looking for. Very soon after, we put in dozens of Talari appliances,” says Look.
Now, when there are problems with a carrier connection, Oracle SD-WAN technology automatically detects the failure within a fraction of a second and moves traffic to a well-performing link without interrupting active user sessions, ensuring that SI Group’s 2,800 engineers, chemists, payroll and other employees don’t experience a performance gap. Oracle's failsafe SD-WAN approach provides SI Group with increased capacity, improved reliability, and lowered costs while ensuring that applications are not impacted by underlying network issues.
“The results were immediately apparent. We started getting compliments from the plant managers and others working with and in the remote branches,” Look says.
When the IT team took a closer look at Oracle's network diagnostics, they found unexpected good news. They were seeing MPLS outages in multiple locations at different times, but the outages had zero impact on the network. In one location in France, MPLS circuits were down for three days without anyone knowing.
“The Talari SD-WAN was doing its job and re-routing traffic over the best available path; everything was still running with no noticeable reduction in speed or capabilities,” says Look.
Oracle's patented failsafe technology delivers both MPLS-class high availability and high QoE (quality of experience), predictable application performance for both TCP-based apps and real-time apps including VoIP and videoconferencing. SI Group benefits whether any location’s connectivity is built on a hybrid MPLS plus Internet WAN fabric, or a WAN made up only of Internet connections. Continuous, unidirectional measurement of all traffic between any pair of locations enables sub-second response. This approach applies not only to link or device failures, but also WAN “brownouts” – episodes of congestion-based packet loss and jitter that occur on shared IP networks like the Internet.
Before installing Oracle, SI Group’s WAN averaged 95 percent uptime. Oracle boosted uptime to 99.99 percent. For Look, the most visible changes were around the real-time staff Skype audio and video traffic. Skype is extremely popular within SI Group, and employees now reliably schedule and conduct conferences without worrying about dropped calls. These communications are vital for remote locations working with headquarters, partners and customers.
Oracle diagnostics also proved out that the Internet most of the time was vastly better at handling their traffic than MPLS.
“The failsafe-enabled Internet connections were consistently faster and had less jitter than MPLS. We were considering an MPLS overhaul but based on the stats opted for leveraging 100 Mbps Internet connections. SI Group kept 2 Mbps MPLS for added QoE for the most performance-sensitive apps. We have no plans to scale MPLS and spend more money with a carrier,” says Look.
Moving to 100 Mbps Internet is leading to both significantly more bandwidth and monthly cost savings for SI Group. Typically, MPLS connections run 50 to 400 times more expensive per bit than Internet connections. SI Group is realizing both near term and future cost savings.
“Internet pricing keeps going down while MPLS stays at the same high price,” notes Look.
Network management is another area where SI Group gives Oracle high marks. One person manages the global Oracle SD-WAN, in addition to many other responsibilities.
“We don’t need a large team of network engineers or multiple people to manage and monitor Talari’s edge devices,” says Look.
Oracle SD-WAN solution brings additional benefits for SI Group, especially around future WAN upgrades. SI Group is now ready to leverage multi-cloud-based services, and easily incorporate any additional WAN provider at its different locations, since Oracle's SD-WAN solution is carrier-agnostic.
With very little ongoing input from IT, the Oracle SD-WAN manages all the network connections across all the different regions and telcos. SI Group has gained 50 times the overall WAN capacity, maintained QoS for its applications, and increased network uptime and application performance by moving traffic from MPLS to Internet connections, and back as needed, even multiple times during an existing user session, all without users knowing.
“We’ve gained more bandwidth and reduced costs 40 to 80 percent while increasing network reliability with Talari,” says Look. “We tried other SD-WAN products, but we have torn those out of the network. Talari is at every location, supporting a diverse mix of connections, and everything stays up. Talari has been fantastic.”
As SI Group’s global reach expands, the chemical company is primed and ready for new remote branch offices and any other regional connectivity needs.