Business is booming for Indiana Mills and Manufacturing (IMMI). The family-owned business is best known for making seatbelts and car seats for children, but it also makes restraint systems for military vehicles and counts the U.S. military as one of its biggest customers.
According to Tom Braden, VP of enterprise technology at IMMI, the company is “growing like a weed” and adding new manufacturing sites around the globe as well as acquiring other companies that make safety gear.
But with that growth comes complexity. Braden said the company has manufacturing plants in China, Mexico, Europe, and in the United States. To connect all those sites, the company was using Cisco routers and connecting via VPN tunnels. “It was a hub-and-spoke topology,” Braden said. “And it was creating some major pain points.”
Some manufacturing plant locations, like the one in China, are plagued with slow speeds, high latency and a lot of packet loss. “It makes the end-user experience miserable,” he said.
SD-WAN to the Rescue
To solve the problem, IMMI has deployed Silver Peak’s SD-WAN technology at seven of its 12 locations. Braden said that while it isn’t saving money by decommissioning costly MPLS lines (it never used MPLS), it is benefiting from greater efficiency. “Customers get a faster connection,” he said, not because Silver Peak can alter the speeds of the broadband connection but because the technology can reduce packet loss and insert forward-error correction so that the end user has a better experience. “Those two features alone were a big enough reason to do this,” Braden said.
He also said that switching to SD-WAN will allow the company to reduce its IT costs. Before deploying SD-WAN he had to supplement his IT staff with consultants to support the different manufacturing sites. Now, almost anyone can set up an SD-WAN appliance. “I just need someone to plug in the Silver Peak appliance, and the rest is a download from the cloud,” he said.
Interestingly, Braden said that Silver Peak was one of a handful of SD-WAN vendors that IMMI evaluated. He said the company wanted to deploy SD-WAN from a major vendor and picked Silver Peak because it was able to optimize low latency connections and its appliances can accommodate multiple ports. He added that the evaluation period took about six to eight months. “To change all our old technology is a scary thing,” he said. “We are taking a big leap by moving to this new technology.”