The Portland, Oregon-based natural food store chain, New Seasons Market, opened nearly 30 locations — including stores, regional offices, and a central kitchen — across the Pacific Northwest and Northern California since 2000. As it grew, the company’s network and broadband connections struggled to scale with the growing business.
When New Seasons first started to expand it relied on T1 connections, which were expensive at the time.
“In the early days I felt so helpless, I felt like I was held hostage to some of the T1 agreements,” said Sean Teisher, New Seasons’ IT director. “When I looked at these products that had very high SLAs [service level agreements] I felt like I was held hostage to that carrier, and then you would discover that the bandwidth capacity was capped at a lower bandwidth than what we eventually needed.”
Later, the company switched to a fixed wireless solution, Static WIMAX, which also had its problems. For one, it had a bandwidth capacity cap that wouldn’t scale with the company, and it relied on antennas. According to Teisher, it worked but depended too much on line-of-sight to radio towers, had outages, and most of all, as with the T1 connections, relied too much on long-term or overly-expensive SLAs.
Deploying Bigleaf SD-WAN
In 2012, the grocery chain turned to Bigleaf Networks’ software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology. “Overnight it was incredible,” said Teisher. “The end users in our stores suddenly thought we upgraded all our infrastructure.”
The accounting department was pleased because it cut the telecom costs by nearly half. And store managers found it easier, and faster, to connect to application servers that hosted applications such as time, attendance, and scheduling.
New Seasons initially deployed Bigleaf’s pre-configured routers at 10 of its locations outside of its firewall. It has since expanded it to all of its locations. Teisher noted that the grocery kept its own firewall software.
Bigleaf’s SD-WAN works on New Seasons’ network by optimizing multiple Internet connections and automatically re-routing application traffic based on conditions. “If we noticed a circuit was down we could set it so it only allows point-of-sale traffic or specific traffic that we decide is most critical,” said Teisher.
He said the biggest benefits of the SD-WAN technology are its seamless failover, the load balancing, granularity of control, and Bigleaf’s quality of service.