When men’s clothing retailer Brooks Brothers decided it needed to simplify the connectivity in its 278 retail stores and its four main offices, the company evaluated a handful of different options. In the end it selected software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology because it could get better performance and functionality than it was getting with MPLS.
“New applications are being introduced, and they require more bandwidth even if they are cloud-based apps,” said Manny Stergakis, technology architect at Brooks Brothers. “Going to a broadband solution with SD-WAN gave us the ability to have these new business applications for our stores.”
Migrating to broadband without deploying an SD-WAN wasn’t really a viable option because it would require the company to configure a VPN between the firewall in all its locations, which is a time-consuming and largely manual job. “With SD-WAN that is all done for you,” said Stergakis. “Once you build a profile it crosses every single appliance. You don’t have to create 278 tunnels.”
The company selected VeloCloud’s cloud-delivered SD-WAN because Stergakis said it was more mature than some of the competitors’. “They weren’t at the same level as what we saw with VeloCloud,” he said. Specifically, he said VeloCloud’s hardware was more mature. And the company’s gateways, which are deployed at cloud data centers around the globe, provided scalability.
This was important for Brooks Brothers, which has retail stores and offices around the globe. Although the company initially focused on North America for its SD-WAN deployment, it is working in other areas of the world as well including Japan, Europe, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Stergakis said that the majority of the company’s retail stores are using DSL for their broadband connectivity with LTE as a backup. The reason for the DSL is because many Brooks Brothers’ retail stores are located in malls or areas without access to a cable broadband connection. “ADSL was something we looked at because it is viable and the performance was not that bad,” Stergakis said.
Brooks Brothers also has a 24 x 7 network operations center that monitors its SD-WAN portal so it can tell if an appliance is not working or if the service is down. “It’s easy to determine what the problem is so we can take the next steps,” he said.
Perhaps more important than the improved functionality and the better performance, SD-WAN is proving to be a significant cost savings for Brooks Brothers. Stergakis estimated that SD-WAN is costing the company about one-third of what it was paying for MPLS. The company hasn’t completely moved away from MPLS yet but is moving that way. “MPLS is stable and solid,” Stergakis said. “But the world is moving in that direction, and at some point you have to move forward.”