Gartner predicts that by 2024, to enhance agility and support for cloud applications, 60% of enterprises will have implemented SD-WAN. For most, that means migrating to the cloud and finding the right software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution to support their rapidly growing business. This is especially true for high-tech enterprises where businesses are expanding rapidly and are required to remain dynamic in order to keep up with an ever-evolving industry. Businesses are required to seamlessly adopt new technologies, leverage merger and acquisition (M&A) activities to remain competitive, expand branch locations at scale, and offer a great user experience. This can be challenging and costly when customers rely on a legacy WAN infrastructure. This was exactly the case for the world’s leading customer relationship management (CRM) provider, Salesforce.com, Inc.
Challenges and Requirements to Connect Global Branch Offices
Salesforce, supporting over 70 branch locations and 60,000+ employees, understood these challenges all too well. They frequently acquire new technologies, and their legacy infrastructure focused on data center based application delivery just wasn’t cutting it. They struggled with limited bandwidth and a costly multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network that couldn’t scale as they adopted new cloud applications. They sought a solution that could provide greater network intelligence, elevate control, application awareness, and flexible bandwidth. With branches located all over the world of varying sizes, ranging from offices of 5,000 employees, to offices of fewer than 12, they needed a solution that would cost-effectively support the large offices, and scale down WAN throughput for the smaller offices.
In addition to bandwidth improvements, Salesforce needed to distinguish application traffic in an extremely granular manner, so much so that their WAN could distinguish between applications even from the same vendor. “Cost was an important factor, but bandwidth, security, support, automation, application-focus, availability, and proper redundancy were our top requirements. After the RFP and extensive testing, our top requirements came back to application awareness and flexibility.” said Georgi Stoev, Senior Network Architect at Salesforce, on the decision making process.
Salesforce evaluated a variety of vendors, but Palo Alto Networks’ Prisma SD-WAN solution stood out as the only vendor to offer the Layer 7 visibility, granular control, and automated capabilities that were needed. Prisma SD-WAN was the only solution that could meet all of Salesforce’s requirements, and ultimately, that is why they selected Palo Alto Networks to be their next-generation SD-WAN vendor of choice.
Next-Generation SD-WAN Requires a Change in Mindset
Adopting a next-generation SD-WAN solution wasn’t a ‘no-brainer’ for Salesforce. It required a shift in mindset, and a new way of thinking about networking. The norm for Salesforce was for their applications to run on a private MPLS network, so switching to a model where they connect directly to the public internet had to be done thoughtfully. Stoev knew this switch would be worth it, and he was right. The decision to implement Prisma SD-WAN led to numerous benefits, including the following:
- Simple deployment and ongoing management. “All the pieces are templatized, so deployment is simple. Once the WAN circuits come up and the SD-WAN appliances are reachable from the Palo Alto Networks central management portal, everything else is a snap,” claimed Stoev. His team no longer needs to login to separate devices for maintenance, resulting in a reduction in operational costs.
- Improved network resilience with diverse connectivity and appliance redundancy. Using Prisma SD-WAN automated overlays, Salesforce was able to add encryption to secure application traffic over public broadband internet connections. This improved the reliability of the network and increased application resilience. They also implemented high availability using dual devices at branch and data center locations, achieving consistent network uptime by providing redundancy and failover. Prisma SD-WAN ION devices’ fail-to-wire capability allowed Salesforce to maintain branch connectivity even in the event of hardware failure.
- 500% increase in performance without increased costs. Stoev decided to use cost-effective WAN links to increase the network’s bandwidth by 500% on average, improving end-user experience without increasing WAN costs.
- Reduces risk with a significantly stronger security posture. To ensure maximum network security, Salesforce utilized Prisma SD-WAN zone-based firewalls to segment two zones in each branch to support guest wireless and corporate employees.
With Prisma SD-WAN, Salesforce can easily and securely integrate networks acquired through M&A activities. They no longer have to deal with network outages, which had previously rendered thousands of employees unproductive for hours at a time. Finally, they save on operational costs thanks to the simple, straightforward management of their SD-WAN. Stoev says Prisma SD-WAN brought them to the “next level.”
See how Prisma SD-WAN can help bring your organization to the next level with our free trial.