Intelys optimises Logistics WANs to solve everyday networking challenges in this space
In today’s customer orientated, digitised society, transportation & logistics are under increasing pressure to deliver quality customer service and find innovative ways to optimise their operations while remaining competitive.
In this post we will outline some of the key characteristics of the transport and logistics industry, some of the challenges facing the industry from a technological (networking) point of view, as well as look at ways to overcome these challenges.
The logistics vertical is defined by several key characteristics:
- Highly competitive ecosystem
- High operational costs
- Locations are numerous and globally distributed
- WAN connections to all locations may not be serviceable for any one service provider
- Last mile connectivity can vary from region to region
- Applications tend to be transaction-oriented and require high throughput and high availability
- Back to back SLA’s with punitive measures for non-delivery to clients
- Increased use of Internet of Things (IoT) for tracking products, environmental monitoring, and automation controls
Current WAN challenges experienced in the logistics industry:
- Poor network visibility
- Ageing infrastructure that is unable to scale
- Rapid adoption of Cloud (SaaS) based technologies
- High networks costs
- Multi-vendor complexity
- Network uptime and availability
- Skills and resources to administer the network
Currently there is a massive shift in the way that data is being consumed in this vertical. This is being fueled by the accelerated adoption in cloud, an increase in real-time applications and an ever-increasing mobile workforce. Next-generation technology SD-WAN provides the toolset required to remediate these challenges faced by the transport and logistics industry.
Enterprises in the Transport and Logistics Vertical that are embracing this change
“In2Food partnered with Intelys to transition our legacy MPLS network to a cloud-ready software defined network using Citrix SD-WAN. The Citrix SD-WAN forms the basis of an intelligent, application and link SLA aware overlay service and connects to multiple internet circuits at each branch as well as in the datacenter. Citrix SD-WAN has made a significant difference to our business, where a number of our sites sit remotely, providing us with high levels of flexibility, scalability and redundancy. In addition we now have better visibility, greater insight and control of our branch locations.”
Danie Steyn, Group IT Manager, in2food
Benefits provided by SD-WAN
- Last mile flexibility
- Faster provisioning
- Better uptime
- Simplified networks
- Increased application performance
- Better insight into the network
- Shift in commercial models
Intelligent, smart bandwidth
SD-WAN has provided high levels of flexibility, scalability and redundancy to the Transport and Logistics vertical. Any medium (Fibre, DSL, Wireless or Mobile), any Supplier (ISP), any service (MPLS, Internet, layer 2), as well as the ability to run links in an active, active state as compared to legacy models. An additional and tangible benefit is the ability to provision this bandwidth quickly as internet type services are much more available and accessible than MPLS-based services. Adding resilience and extra bandwidth to sites could be as simple as adding an LTE simcard directly into the SD-WAN appliance.
Simplified cloud onramp
As cloud adoption accelerates in the logistics space, particularly IaaS, and services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) proliferate, it makes sense for this industry to adopt an SD-WAN model. SD-WAN allows for the deployment of virtual appliances inside your IaaS environment, essentially extending the SD-WAN fabric into the cloud. Furthermore, SD-WAN opens the door for branch breakout directly to the cloud, as opposed to routing via the data centre, allowing for better application performance.
Increased network uptime
In a competitive eco-system, downtime in branches could significantly compromise orders and deliveries resulting in reputational damage and in some instances having a financial impact. SD-WAN offers seamless link failover in the event of a link failure or brownout, as well as seamless hardware failover when configured for high availability. The service also offers intelligent remediation techniques such as packet retransmission, and compression techniques.
Security in transportation and logistics is of utmost importance. Organisations hold records pertaining to clients, partners, stock and delivery schedules. Details getting into the wrong hands could have a negative impact on the organisation as well as on the end client. SD-WAN provides the ability to run secure tunnels over unsecure connectivity , encrypting the data as it flows in the SD-WAN fabric. As local branch breakout is more prevalent, SD-WAN allows for a built-in firewall, or the option to integrate with a 3rd party firewall. An option also exists to integrate to cloud security providers (SaaS), extending security into the cloud via a tunnel. All this provides for a robust security framework.
Simplification through orchestration
“Visibility and control provide peace of mind.” It is imperative that in the event of any form of downtime, the network team can pinpoint the issue in the shortest space of time, allowing for a quick resolution before they escalate. SD-WAN allows for central configuration, management, and monitoring, offering simplification to a complex network
The big payoff
SD-WAN enables connecting applications on a global scale at a fraction of the cost of MPLS systems. It is estimated that organisations can save up to 50% on connectivity costs and cut down the time to provision a site from 6 months to 1 month – sometimes even days – as it allows you to overcome local infrastructure challenges by leveraging simple Internet bandwidth.
SD-WAN also optimises applications like Zoom video conferencing, which boosts collaboration between employees and ultimately trims travel costs. It also creates an opportunity for organisations to use the network for predictive analytics. An example would be to taking airline and freight schedule data, as well as weather information and ingesting it into a Microsoft Azure data lake. Running machine learning algorithms against this data, the system will predict the probability of whether an airline carrying a package will arrive on time. This can be used to help customers gauge whether their cargo will arrive on time and improve the negotiating ability for the logistics provider, ultimately improving customer service.