Undeniably, organizations today rely more on connectivity and agility than ever before. Companies are moving all types of business applications to the cloud and using Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions including Office 365 or Cloud Contact Center to drive better productivity, especially amidst the current pandemic. This dynamic is also experienced by the retail industry. Most of today’s retail industry IT infrastructure is shifting to the cloud environment due to more efficient cost management, increasing business productivity capabilities.
Indonesia’s Geographical Landscape Poses a Network Challenge
With the ever-growing demands of technology, connectivity challenges arise. Traditional WAN architecture is not able to keep up with rapid technological advances such as cloud migration, due to high complexity, preventing IT teams from swiftly responding to business needs. In Indonesia, this is exacerbated by the wide range of geographical conditions of the 12,000 inhabited islands and more than 17,000 islands in total, which present unique challenges from a resource and connectivity perspective.
Introducing Company A, One of the Largest Modern Retailers in Indonesia
Our client, company A, is one of the largest retailers in Indonesia, serving more than 1 million customers every day with approximately 10,000 stores across Indonesia, and managed by more than 30 branch offices. The company faced challenges managing its branch network after switching to the cloud.
“In retail, speed and innovation are the most important elements, and we need network infrastructure that facilitates growth while keeping pace with the competition. Our business needs an agile, dynamic, and secure network that is able to support all of the applications and services implemented in the cloud,” stated the company’s Technology Director.
With traditional WAN, company A and its IT staff were forced to encounter various obstacles, including the amount of time it takes to provide each branch office with network infrastructure and scheduling the allocation of technicians for tasks such as installing complex network equipment, configuring the network, and updating policies for network access to the required applications. These obstacles resulted in slower business operations and higher cost of operations.
Company A then identified SD-WAN as the technology to address their network challenges. “We believed that SD-WAN technology had an important role in connecting our branch offices seamlessly as part of our digital transformation plan,” stated Company A’s Technology Director.
Turning Uncertainty into a Solution
Telkomtelstra was contracted to provide effective SD-WAN services to Company A with a simple but advanced network solution, while optimizing the performance of Company A’s branch office network in the existing cloud ecosystem.
Unlike traditional WAN, the main differentiator of Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN is its flexible and easy to use cloud-based network solution. For Company A, Telkomtelstra specifically used SD-WAN solution powered by VMware. VMware SD-WAN delivers high performance and reliable access from branches or work-from-anywhere locations to cloud services, private data centres and SaaS-based enterprise applications in a cost-effective manner. It simplifies remote and branch-wide area networking by automating deployment and improving performance over private, broadband Internet, and LTE links for today’s distributed enterprises. Also, VMware SD-WAN is a foundational component of VMware Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) Platform, which converges network services with best-in-class cloud security and Zero Trust network access to deliver flexibility, agility and scalability for enterprises of all sizes.
Furthermore, Company A also set an ambitious target of activating the SD-WAN solution in more than 5,000 locations across Indonesia in just 15 months, as they desired fast implementation to meet their need for high performance and secure services.
Telkomtelstra initiated the project by delving into Company A’s network architecture, ranging from IP routing, switching, and distribution schemes, to connectivity and security. All Telkomtelstra technical teams then worked with Company A to review core network configurations, conduct geographic planning, trace sites to evaluate network capabilities, and verify their network activity in the cloud ecosystem.
Subsequently, Telkomtelstra began orchestration, including installation, configuration, and centralized real-time network monitoring.
How Does Telkomtelstra SD-WAN Assist Company A?
Faster than the initial 15-month target, Telkomtelstra was able to complete SD-WAN activation for Company A in just 12 months for 5,000 locations, even in the midst of the pandemic situation. In fact, a record 131 sites from Company A’s branch office network were successfully connected in just 1 day.
Telkomtelstra recognizes the importance of easy-to-operate implementation. The cloud presents SD-WAN solution to Company A, which has branch office spread across Indonesia. Several advantages of Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN are summarized in the following 4 points:
1. Managing and Scaling Connectivity for Workloads in the Cloud Ecosystem
Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN solution optimizes retail connectivity across all business points of Company A’s retail stores. This allows Company A’s head office to easily centralize management of all network operations for all branch offices, with lower wait times compared to a traditional WAN. Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN also allows Company A to optimize the network for workloads in its cloud ecosystem with scalability within minutes. This capability allows Company A to distribute and change policies, and implement new configurations throughout the branch network quickly, at any scale, and from anywhere.
2. Dynamic Path Optimization and Auto Failover
Dynamic Multi-Path Optimization consists of automatic link monitoring, automatic detection of internet service providers (IPSs), auto-configuration of link characteristics, routing, and QoS (quality of service) settings. This means that Company A can dedicate network workload to high-priority applications via an available ISP, while low-priority applications are switched to ISP2.
Furthermore, VMware SD-WAN allows corporate IT teams to troubleshoot connectivity issues at branch offices using a feature called auto-failover. This provides the ability to connect several different WAN connections, including internet, to create a whole that functions as one entity. This means that if one connection fails, SD-WAN can activate the automatic failover feature using Company A’s backup connection. In other words, SD-WAN guarantees real-time service performance of Company A’s connectivity, which in turn increases the resilience of the company’s network as a whole.
3. Zero-Touch Installation
The big added value of Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN solution is zero-touch installation for branch offices. SD-WAN devices automatically authenticate, connect, and receive configuration instructions once the branch office network is connected to the head office via zero-touch deployment.
Telkomtelstra SD-WAN’s zero-touch feature reduces the need to send technicians to branch offices for all network requirements or when adding new sites within the branch location, which can now easily be done by non-technical staff. This benefits the business in terms of better cost management compared to traditional WAN or MPLS.
In addition to high performance and productivity, Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN solution also offers companies comprehensive security options using cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service). Amidst the increasing threat of branch offices being exposed to the risks of advanced cyber-attacks, particularly from cloud-based connectivity, security features strengthen the SD-WAN solution to centralize all branch office network operations securely without any disruptions.
For large companies with branch offices spread across various regions of Indonesia and neighboring countries, like Company A, traditional WAN solutions are not capable of connecting networks between data centers, head offices, and branch offices which are located far apart. Traditional WAN operations require multiple devices with their own complexities and costs. Another disadvantage of traditional WAN is that control, configuration, and management of devices in all locations must be conducted on each site. This means the company must send out and place experts in the branch offices, resulting in higher operational costs. Not to mention questionable security within the network amidst increasing cyber-security threats.
Telkomtelstra’s SD-WAN solution is able to simplify WAN connectivity, with the technology combining several of the most important capabilities that are needed – taking into account companies’ varying requirements, including bandwidth management, application performance, security, and cost – all in one elegant, powerful solution. Interested in learning more or switching/migrating to an SD-WAN solution? Contact Telkomtelstra or watch the video of our webinar session with VMware on Migrating to SD-WAN Technology. (*)
*This article was written by Agus F.Abdillah, Chief Customer Officer, Telkomtelstra