Solutia Saves Big Bucks With WAN Optimization

Chemical firm slashes its networking budget by more than $130,000 a year

July 30, 2008

3 Min Read
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Rapidly expanding chemical manufacturer Solutia has shaved more than $130,000 off its annual IT costs by throwing its weight behind WAN optimization.

The company, which has 20 sites dotted across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, began its WAN optimization push in late 2004, according to Rahul Goturi, Solutias CIO.

Four years ago Solutia had just 5,000 employees, although this figure has now swelled to 6,000 thanks to Solutia’s 2007 acquisition of Flexsys, not to mention 1,500 contractors.

“As our company began to grow, we needed to figure out our additional bandwidth need,” says Goturi, explaining that the firm wanted to avoid placing additional expensive T1 links between each of its sites. “We either had to add more bandwidth to each site or look for an alternative.”

After scoping out options from Packeteer, now part of Blue Coat, and Riverbed, Solutia opted for the latter, deploying a Steelhead 5010 device at both its St. Louis, Missouri, HQ, and its data center in Auburn Hills, Michigan.“Riverbed removes the need to add additional T1s,” says Goturi, explaining that the 5010s won out largely by offering faster application performance than Packeteer.

Since late 2004, Solutia has deployed another nine Riverbed devices at other company locations in the U.S., the U.K., and Belgium, including Steelhead 1000, 2000, and 3000 Series devices.

“This is saving the cost of a T1 at each of those sites,” explains Goturi, adding that each T1 link typically costs around $12,000 in annual licensing fees, equaling $132,000 a year for all 11 sites. “We have saved more than a quarter of a million dollars over the last three years by putting in Riverbed.”

The exec estimates that Solutia has spent between $200,000 and $300,000 on the Riverbed devices, claiming a three-year return on his investment.

”It’s not just the cost [benefits], it’s also the user experience,” he adds, explaining that the Steelheads have significantly boosted application performance across Solutia’s WAN. “We do WAN acceleration -- we had a couple of SQL Server apps that were slow -- they would take minutes, now they take seconds.”Solutia has also boosted its SAP and HTTP Web traffic, as well as its file shares and printing, according to Goturi.

“Instead of send 500 Megabytes of [printing] traffic across all the sites, it’s now 41 Megabytes,” he says.

Despite these performance benefits, the exec told Byte and Switch that there are still areas where he would like to see Riverbed enhance its Steelhead offerings.

“I would like them to expand their appliance to be more intelligent from an application software perspective,” he says. “Virtualization would be one feature [and] an Internet Proxy would be another.”

Currently Solutia uses a Microsoft proxy server at its HQ to filter Internet traffic across its sites, although placing a proxy in remote locations could block Internet requests at the LAN level, reducing the amount of traffic on the WAN.Solutia is nonetheless planning the next stage of its WAN optimization overhaul, according to Goturi.

“One of the things that we’re going to do is refresh our Riverbed devices with the more recent models in the 3000 and 5000 series that handle more concurrent sessions,” he says. “[And] they have new models coming out later this year that we’re testing.”Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Blue Coat Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BCSI)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Packeteer Inc. (Nasdaq: PKTR)

  • Riverbed Technology Inc.

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