Introducing the technology also proved challenging. Baker says the SD-WAN model "scared the hell out of" his nine Cisco network engineers because they didn't know how to operate it relative to traditional MPLS networks and VPN connections. "They didn't understand that it was not about managing the network at an ISO Cisco code level anymore," Baker says. "It was about working with application developers and business users and determining the optimum way to deliver an application anywhere in the world."
The big pay-off
Steering through the learning curves, JAS rolled out Aryaka in June 2012. The software connected JAS' ERP, email and other apps at a fraction of the cost of MPLS systems. Baker estimates he saved as much as 66 percent of bandwidth connectivity costs using Aryaka and cut provisioning time from six to eight months to less than a month. "It allowed us to deliver an ERP system on a global scale and overcome some massive local infrastructure challenges by leveraging simple internet bandwidth at a fraction of the cost of the MPLS services that we had or that would have had to pay for to put in place," Baker says.
Baker has begun to run cloud applications, such as the Zoom video conferencing application, on its SD-WAN network, replacing a hodgepodge of WebEx and Skype instances while boosting collaboration for JAS employees and trimming travel costs.
Baker is particularly excited about using the SD-WAN system for predictive analytics that will help JAS customers gauge whether their cargo will arrive on time. JAS plans to use Aryaka to ingest data from airline and ocean freight schedules and weather information and funnel it into a Microsoft Azure data lake.
Running machine learning algorithms against the data, the system will predict the probability of whether, for example, a Delta Airlines plane carrying a compressor part needed by workers on an oil rig will make its flight from Los Angeles to Houston. Baker says JAS customers are keen to "know the probability of an event happening" that would impact their shipments. Theoretically, such information could give JAS a leg up in negotiating customer deals.
"With the foundation of SD-WAN, we can talk about moving into machine learning and artificial intelligence, helping us weave JAS into the supply chain of each and every customer," Baker says. "[SD-WAN] has become a disruptive technology because it elevates network connectivity as a business value."
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.