Leading U.S. Paint Manufacturer Takes Advantage of a Lower Cost MPLS Alternative
Hughes delivers fully-redundant architecture and increased throughput
Companies with retail and distribution locations spread across large geographic areas often have a hard time pulling together connectivity solutions that can satisfy all of their needs—especially when budget concerns enter the picture.
This is especially true as more bandwidth is required for new, sophisticated transactions and Web applications. Companies often patch together a mix of solutions. Add on layers of partner and supplier communications that need to be addressed, and the picture is even more complicated.
How the Largest Paint Manufacturer in the U.S. Made Some Choices
Consider one of Hughes’ customers. They’re the largest paint manufacturer in the U.S. and #2 in the world. With thousands of locations in North America, they maintain global wholesale and distribution operations. Their technology investments are expected to last 7–10 years, and they pride themselves on selecting the best technology for the long haul. As an example, when the company purchased a new back-office POS system, they bought thousands of extra units and warehoused them in anticipation of future store expansion. They’re a very disciplined, conservative Midwest company that controls costs tightly.
This company originally contracted with Hughes in the 1990s for an all satellite-based wide area network solution when their existing dial-up network could no longer handle their need for “always-on” business applications. At that time Web applications were nonexistent.
Now, however, 20 percent of their business applications are Web-based. That number is growing every month as more and more of their operations and analytics move to real time, and as more of their applications are pushed to “the cloud” (Web-hosted or VPN applications that are not client-based). Web-based applications help them lower costs, centralize management and maintenance, and reduce complexity at user desktops.
Web- or cloud-based applications require significant bandwidth and a very reliable network. These applications offer less local “software bloat” at the remote locations; however, this centralized approach requires large sets of data and processing instructions to travel over the wire. As a result, they require very reliable networks to ensure the applications can be accessed.
Although their existing Hughes satellite network was highly reliable, it was narrow-band and the company needed to upgrade it to support their growing applications. Thus, this paint manufacturer needed better broadband performance to handle increased traffic demands. They had many choices (their original RFP went out to approximately a dozen different solution providers). A lot of those alternatives actually increased complexity, costs, and management hassles for their internal IT teams. Other choices included a premium MPLS offering, but the cost of the service was very expensive due to the a large number of remote locations. For these hard-to-reach locations, they would have had to augment the solution with traditional T1 deployments. Overall, the cost for outfitting and managing thousands of locations with this mixed approach would be staggering.
Hughes Offered a More Compelling, Less Expensive Alternative to MPLS
This paint company chose Hughes as a networking partner for several reasons:
A Deeper Dive: What Did This Company Get for Their $$$?
- They recognized that many of their low-speed sites (768K or less) could be served with a redundant combination of wireline broadband connectivity and broadband satellite—at a 50 percent cost savings. For these hard to reach locations, the savings amounted to as much as $150 to $175 per month, per store.
- The broadband wireline and satellite combination would ensure full redundancy due to path diversity—an advantage that was not offered by other vendors.
- Easy implementation, management, and scalability fit their long-range plans. The total satellite deployment portion of the network, for example, took less than four months.
- Built-in IP multicasting capabilities help them push paint catalogs and training/policy/operations manuals to all of their stores at once. They also deliver computer-based training (CBT) programs via multicast. No other provider could supply this feature as efficiently and cost-effectively as Hughes.
- The wide range of professional services offered by Hughes (for more information, see sidebar) as part of the network implementation was critical to their implementation team to ensure the network would meet their business needs as cost-effectively as possible.
- They appreciated the value in partnering with a single vendor or, in other words, having “one throat to grab” when issues arose.
This particular Hughes customer received a low-latency, high-bandwidth network solution by deploying two broadband connections to each store: a DSL path in parallel with a redundant satellite broadband connection. It’s a fully backed- up solution with more than enough throughput to handle their transactional and business application needs. The solution also provides a fully managed service from one provider and a consistent/reliable/tested set of technologies (as opposed to mixing vendors and technologies). This service is called the Hughes High-Availability VPN and it is designed to provide many of the benefits of an MPLS network, but at a much lower cost.
The company did not have to choose between “broadband with limitations” or “MPLS with cost over-runs.” They enjoy:
- More bandwidth and better application performance
- Dramatically enhanced network reliability
- Robust security
- Low cost
- No-cost Hughes professional services that got them up and running quickly
- A trusted, long-term partnership
As a result, the company protected their revenue streams and their operational performance while increasing bandwidth and bostering security. The solution also provided ample opportunity for growth and plenty of flexibility.
LAN-like Performance over the WAN
The Hughes High-Availability VPN solution delivers LAN-like performance over the WAN. It uses a symmetrical architecture approach for bandwidth control and acceleration. Enterprise-class routers are deployed at each remote location, providing WAN optimization for:
Application Prioritization and Traffic Shaping: With the growth in remote applications as well as recreational traffic, demand for WAN bandwidth often exceeds available bandwidth at branch sites. Instead of traditional traffic engineering approaches that attempt to manage traffic levels, a more efficient method is to use prioritization to ensure that business-critical applications are provided preferential access to WAN bandwidth. The Hughes solution provides four priority levels. Traffic flows are classified via a variety of rules, such as application type, TCP ports, or IP addresses.
Application Acceleration: Protocol acceleration is an effective method for delivering excellent application performance by minimizing or eliminating the effects of latency and jitter on commonly used protocols. TCP, for instance, is susceptible to significant performance degradation due to well-known issues such as slow start and window scaling. While these have no user-perceivable impact on LANs, their effect becomes more pronounced in WANs. Hughes incorporates both TCP and HTTP/HTTPS (Web and secure Web) acceleration functionality into every Hughes enterprise-class router. No expensive and complex third-party appliance or service is required. Application acceleration occurs transparently to the end user application systems.
Data Reduction: Data reduction refers to the decrease or elimination of redundant data over the WAN. The technique delivers significant benefits in terms of WAN bandwidth efficiency. Hughes has incorporated two forms of data reduction to maximize these gains—compression and protocol overhead removal. Both are transparent to the end systems. Stateful, content-aware compression provides lossless compression gains of up to 10 times, depending on the actual traffic content.
As a result, Hughes customers enjoy the performance and cost benefits illustrated below.
Low-Cost, High-Performance Connectivity: The Key to Enterprise Growth, Efficiency, and Profitability
Companies that rely on WAN VPNs need extremely reliable, high-performance connectivity in order to keep revenue flowing, customers satisfied, and operations running. These communication links are especially crucial for distributed enterprises in the retail, financial, hospitality, and insurance industries. As your business applications outgrow the capabilities of existing WAN connections, you need to upgrade network performance while improving overall reliability, availability, and security. And you need to keep costs low.
Hughes’ solutions offer MPLS-like performance as part of a managed network service at prices more comparable to broadband VPN. With Hughes, you don’t have to sacrifice performance and availability for cost or vice versa.
The Hughes High-Availability VPN solution is already successfully providing services to a number of leading distributed enterprises. In all, over 150 enterprises with more than 250,000 sites rely on Hughes to meet their mission-critical private network requirements. Hughes ranks as a top three IP VPN provider in the United States, alongside companies like AT&T and Verizon*, due to our work with these industry-leading companies.*
*Vertical Systems Group 2008, US IP VPN Service Site Share.
Hughes Experience and Leadership—Second to None
Nothing beats experience when it comes to meeting complex communications challenges. For over 30 years, Hughes has led the market in satellite technology, innovation, and service. Now, with combined landline and wireless platforms and single-source management, Hughes Managed Services takes networking to the highest level and empowers companies to achieve seamless connectivity, extend their reach, and expand their competitive horizons.