Freight company wins, wins and wins again with SD-WAN service

Cloud Applications

Mark Baker, the former CIO of JAS Forwarding Worldwide, a recognized leader in global freight forwarding and logistics, found a network solution to support his company’s effort to consolidate and centralize its global ERP resources, and then realized that network was the perfect platform to support growing collaboration and cloud needs. It has been a win/win/win that is paying huge dividends and is still showing plenty of future upside.

Today the global network ties 240 JAS locations in 80 countries around the world, enabling 4,000 employees to use the company’s WiseTech’s CargoWiseOne ERP system, Zoom collaboration tools, and Microsoft Azure cloud resources.

House cleaning

It all started when Baker set out to reorganize the company’s software estate.  Years of acquisitions and expansion around the world – including in China, South Africa and Brazil — left the company with a mix of software programs, many of them custom, and the time was right to clean it all up and move to industry standard options.

The core of the effort was a new ERP system from WiseTech called CargoWiseOne, an application that is widely used in the logistics industry.  But Baker wanted to prevent program sprawl from happening again and wanted to ensure data was always in sync company wide, so JAS decided to support the whole organization from a single SQL Server database.

That forced Baker to revisit the corporate network.  CargoWiseOne needed sub-150 millisecond response time, and that was going to be hard to achieve with the company’s mix of MPLS and VPN tools, say nothing of the fact that updating that network was increasingly hard and expensive.

After looking at WAN optimization tools from Cisco and Riverbed Technology, JAS decided instead to go with a Software Defined WAN from Aryaka. Aryaka’s SD-WAN solution is delivered as a service over a global private Layer 2 mesh network that interconnects 29 points of presence.  Customer offices are connected to nearby POPs via short, dedicated Internet links and from there traffic is groomed and optimized for delivery anywhere in the world over the private network.

“The goal was to enable our 240 offices to transact in real time,” Baker said. “More than that, though, it was important for every user in every office anywhere in the world to have the exact same high-quality experience when accessing business-critical applications. To complicate matters, we wanted to achieve all of this under a very insane deployment schedule of 18 months.”

Aryaka delivered on that and more.  With no capital costs up front, JAS benefited from:

  • 300x faster TCP connections
  • 95x compression rate
  • More than 56% in cost savings
  • Close to a 90% reduction in provisioning times

  “We found a solid partner in Aryaka, and now we have a reliable global network with built-in management and optimization tools,” Baker said.  “Aryaka provided us with a simple, cost-effective solution with no maintenance or capital expenditure. They were the perfect answer to the challenge we faced.”

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.  JAS has since realized other benefits of having a managed, high performance, global network platform.

Cloud Applications

Flying with Zoom

The next big challenge JAS faced was finding a video conferencing solution to enable collaboration between globally distributed employees.

“Our employees are based in offices all across the globe, and as a logistics industry leader, efficient communication and collaboration between geographically distributed teams are key to ensuring continuous business productivity,” Baker said.

While the company had some high-end video conferencing services in place, it wanted to make the tools more broadly available so it ultimately decided to embrace Zoom, a cloud-based service that enables people using standard laptops and mobile devices to participate in video conferences, audio conferences and chat sessions.

Zoom is cost effective right out of the gate because the personal solutions don’t require additional hardware, but there are issues to be aware of.  “The main challenge we faced with Zoom is it uses the public Internet by default, but the Internet is usually slow and inconsistent, which causes frustration for our employees using Internet-based applications,” Baker said.

Running Zoom over Aryaka’s SD-WAN resulted in an almost instantaneous improvement in audio and video quality globally.  “All it took was a phone call to Aryaka, and within minutes the network was up and ready for all traffic from Zoom,” Baker said. “We experienced better-than-MPLS video conferencing quality with Aryaka at a fraction of the cost. Not only did end users stop complaining about voice and video quality issues, the usage of the Zoom platform within JAS started to rise. It was only by using Aryaka [that] we were able to achieve the results we were looking for on a global scale.”

Optimizing the cloud

The Aryaka SD-WAN platform also saved the day when the company started to migrate workloads to Microsoft Azure, including Active Directory domain servers and file services.

Like many companies moving to the cloud, JAS learned that application performance tends to degrade over the Internet. Congestion, latency, jitter and other public Internet issues manifest as poor or spotty performance when it comes to cloud-based resources.

Experiencing this first hand, JAS investigated options for accelerating Azure performance, such as optimizing MPLS, but they were too expensive and took too long to deploy. Fortunately, Aryaka had recently joined Microsoft’s ExpressRoute program.

ExpressRoute gives enterprises the ability to create private connections between Azure datacenters and IT infrastructure located on-premises or in a colocation environment. ExpressRoute connections do not go over the public Internet and offer greater reliability, faster speeds, lower latencies, and higher security than typical connections over the Internet.

“Once Aryaka became part of ExpressRoute, our decision was easy,” Baker said. “With Aryaka, we were able to deploy a fast lane to the Azure cloud in two weeks. Actually, Aryaka turned up the connection in a few hours, but we had to coordinate with the other vendors and SaaS providers we rely on.  But even with those third parties factored in, Aryaka’s deployment time was amazingly fast.”

Other benefits of using Aryaka for Azure access include the built-in security of Aryaka’s global network, the ability to get backup-and-recovery running reliably in the Azure Cloud, and visibility into end-to-end network and application performance through MyAryaka, a customer portal.

For JAS, Aryaka’s global SD-WAN service has justified itself again and again, first helping the company adopt a centralized ERP system, then optimizing its collaboration experiences, and finally solving its cloud performance issues.  That’s the kind of IT investment organizations of all stripes dream of.

Want to give Aryaka a try? Contact us for a proof of concept today and see how we can transform your network.

About the author

Jig Ruparel
Jig Ruparel is the Principal Strategic Architect at Aryaka. He has over 15 years of experience mentoring existing system engineers and solutions architects on best practices for global network deployment. He has held senior advisor, architect, and consultant roles with some of the leading cloud and SaaS, SDN, and ERP providers in the industry.