CIO of Semiconductor Company Solves Critical Network Problem Using a Fully Managed SD-WAN Service
Kenny Gilbert, CIO of TDK InvenSense, hadn’t been on the job for more than a few weeks when employees started lining up at his door to complain about the performance of the company’s wide area network.
TDK InvenSense is a fabless semiconductor company that supplies sensors to manufacturers of devices for mobile, automotive, and industrial applications. Lift the smartwatch on your wrist to look at the time, and the sensor that detects that motion and lights up the watch face is probably from them.
Like many other semiconductor companies, TDK InvenSense had locations around the world and the performance of the WAN was critical to application performance and the ability of team members to collaborate. Gilbert almost immediately went searching for ways to address the issue.
He started with traditional WAN suppliers, many of which he had used in other shops, but they were telling the same old MPLS story and Gilbert knew MPLS to be expensive and inflexible. Changes to MPLS networks can take months to achieve. What’s more, MPLS doesn’t have a good answer for delivering traffic to cloud services, which were becoming increasingly important for global enterprises everywhere, especially TDK Invensense.
Gilbert also wasn’t much interested in the WAN acceleration tools offered by a number of vendors. The last three companies he worked for “had acceleration hardware that was not working,” he says. “This was from either lack of maintenance or misconfiguration. In all three cases, the teams were spread so thin they never got to testing and really verifying the speeds. I have found you have to always be testing and adjusting to have peak performance.”
Ultimately Gilbert discovered Aryaka, a company offering a global managed SD-WAN as a service. He brought in Aryaka for a proof of concept (POC) and there was no turning back. “The POC was up in just hours,” Gilbert says, “and we were getting results right out of the gate. After trying the POC for one month, it was obvious we couldn’t turn around. Our customers were happy, and we continued to deploy it to all of the sites that needed it. As of today, that’s seven sites that we have rolled out, and we will continue to do more.”
Host of benefits
One of the core benefits of consuming your connectivity compared to building it from scratch is there are no up-front capital costs because you consume it like you would any cloud service. “I had low monthly expenses, as compared to the competitors, and it really took the customer complaints from dozens to zero overnight,” Gilbert says.
Another key selling point was the ability to react quickly to evolving needs. The company recently had to bring up a new site in Milan, Italy, and with Arayaka, was able to get it done in days. “If I compare that to an MPLS supplier, that would be three to four months. So the advantages I am getting with Aryaka are huge.”
While that agility is key to linking corporate locations, it is also critical in the shift to cloud.
“The beauty with Aryaka is, not only can I connect my own sites into a global mesh network with WAN acceleration and QoS,” Gilbert says, “but I can also connect to suppliers like Microsoft and have that network experience for cloud-based tools. That is a huge advantage for us.”
Was he nervous going with a smaller SD-WAN service supplier vs. a traditional service from one of the global telco behemoths? Gilbert says, “I had one of the cornerstone MPLS suppliers tell me once, ‘Kenny, be careful with your decisions, because I can guarantee if you choose us you will never lose your job.’ And I think that gentleman was very wrong. I think CIOs that go with a company that is … charging outrageous prices are actually putting themselves at risk. In today’s market, you have to be able to respond fast, and cloud is a very common way to do things. I think Aryaka’s service offering in the cloud makes complete sense, and we are a hundred percent behind it.”
The beauty of buying an SD-WAN as a service, is that it comes with a dedicated team that does nothing but care for the service, relieving you of the need to monitor and manage resources scattered around the globe. “We chose Aryaka because of the team that comes with them,” Gilbert says. “I only had one network guy, and once I chose Aryaka, I got a team of network guys across the world.”
He also likes what it means for his career: “For me, as the CIO, I think it is a great talking point [because I can come] into any other job and tell the CEO or CFO about ways to increase speed and save money while keeping reliable services running.”