Lenexa, Kansas-based Henderson Engineers is re-architecting its WAN network and upgrading software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology throughout its 14 sites nationwide. The firm, which was using WAN optimization devices, decided to make the move to SD-WAN as a way to improve its underlying transport, including adding business-grade broadband, without impacting its applications. At the same time, it was able to simplify its WAN architecture and improve its performance.
According to John Smock, infrastructure manager at Henderson Engineers, the company evaluated about three different SD-WAN products before deciding to use Silver Peak for its SD-WAN and EdgeConnect WAN optimization. “The Silver Peak design was attractive because it allowed us to have multiple WANs between the sites and SD-WAN gateways to take care of tunneling and path selection,” Smock said in an interview with SDxCentral.
In addition to 11 sites nationwide, the engineering firm is using Silver Peak SD-WAN in its headquarters site in Lenexa, Kansas, and two sites that are data centers. The firm’s headquarters is home to about 450 employees.
Interestingly, the company is using a combination of MPLS, switched Ethernet, and business-grade broadband from AT&T. Silver Peak’s EdgeConnect WAN Gateway helps Henderson maintain consistent connectivity, and its IT team is in the process of retiring the older, conventional WAN infrastructure. Although the company hasn’t moved away from MPLS yet, it may do that in the future. “We aren’t getting rid of MPLS yet,” Smock said. “We aren’t ready for that. But maybe in a few years.”
Smock said that Henderson is benefiting from using AT&T’s Switched Ethernet Service with Network on Demand, which lets enterprises connect directly to cloud providers and other companies in data centers and then scale their bandwidth as needed. That service helps the company better manage its bandwidth costs and is less expensive than MPLS, Smock said. “I think we are saving some but not a huge amount,” he said. “If anything, we are getting more bandwidth for what we are spending with the added comfort level that it is AT&T business grade, and it is consistent.”
And although the migration to SD-WAN hasn’t been a huge cost savings to Henderson, it has allowed the company to have a lot more visibility into its WAN and understand how the company is using its network. “We can look at flows in real time and see what is going on,” Smock said.
Advice to Others
When it comes to making the move to SD-WAN, Smock advises other enterprises to conduct a proof of concept trial by testing various SD-WAN products in a lab environment first. “Definitely do some testing first,” he said. “See how it works before you expand it to remote offices.”