After 10 years on an MPLS network for their 60 sites worldwide, and with a fast-growing adoption of cloud solutions and applications, Kemin had to evaluate if moving to an SD-WAN solution, is the right decision for the company's high growth targets.
Moving away from MPLS
About 10 years ago Kemin Industries chose to centralize its IT and run its global operation on a single central ERP system in the USA. Connections with the branch offices were MPLS-based.
Nik Meeus, worldwide IT Technical Manager, is responsible for Kemin’s worldwide IT network infrastructure with 60 sites worldwide. “Before the expiration of our WAN contract, we evaluated if we were still on the right track with MPLS in terms of price and technology. Our provider had grown so big that the collaboration did not run as smoothly as we would like in terms of administration, deployment, and support. Also, the cost of the lines was relatively high compared to the available bandwidth.
Another important factor was our fast-growing adoption of cloud solutions and applications such as Microsoft Office 365. Most of our subsidiaries had only one single internet connection. This posed a risk in terms of application availability and continuity, so we wanted to have redundant connections to the cloud.”
Kemin evaluated several alternatives, including their existing WAN provider and several SD-WAN vendors.
Nik Meeus: “Then we talked to the people of Expereo and we were enthusiastic about the fact they represent the most important SDWAN vendors. Through an open dialog with Expereo we concluded that the Cato Networks solution was the best fit with our environment.”
Kemin Industries is a very ambitious company with high growth targets. Nik Meeus: “Last year we built a completely new site in Russia and next year a new site in South Africa will go live. Several acquisitions will fuel further growth in the future. One of the foundations under our growth strategy is digitization and the flexibility of our SD-WAN solution must help us integrate and scale faster.”
The SD-WAN implementation
Kemin and Expereo first ran a proof of concept to test the Cato solution in the Kemin infrastructure. Nik Meeus: “Some applications are just very sensitive to latency, and we operate around the globe. Therefore we decide to run the PoC in Belgium as well as in two of our most difficult sites: China and Brazil.” The results of the PoC were positive and soon after that, the global roll-out started. Kemin fully replaced their MPLS-based WAN with the new Cato Networks SD-WAN solution.
Cato Networks benefits
With the Cato solution, Kemin now can use standard internet connections to connect to the private Cato network. Cato’s global cloud backbone and local Points of Presence around the world ensure a performance that is at least equal to the phased out MPLS connections. Because of the lower cost of the lines, Kemin could also use double the number of internet connections on all locations at the same price level as before. As a result, both the connections to the cloud and to the Kemin datacenter are now fully redundant.
Nik Meeus: “The Cato Networks solutions has proved to be the perfect match for our environment and needs. One of the objectives we have achieved was to have a cost neutral transition from MPLS to SD-WAN. At the same time, we made big progress in terms of flexibility and capacity. A good example of Cato’s benefits is the improved situation in China. Due to the Chinese firewall, our colleagues sometimes didn’t have access to their email and Skype for hours. Today our Office 365 data travels via the local Chinese PoP over the global Cato cloud backbone, which solved that issue instantly.”
Experiences with Expereo
Nik Meeus: “We chose for Expereo because they are a vendor independent SDWAN specialist. What we learned during our collaboration is that they always deliver on their promise, which makes them a trusted partner for Kemin.
Of course there have been some issues during the Proof of Concept phase, but that’s just normal. Because all issues were resolved during the PoC, the actual roll-out went amazingly fast. Within two months our SD-WAN was up and running. That speed is a result of the way the Cato solution is built, and the proactive way Expereo has managed the project.
The people of Expereo work very structured but at the same time they are very flexible and proactive. If we have a question or issue we don’t end up in a support queue, there is always direct contact and clear communication on the status and progress. Our SD-WAN network is being monitored and every month we evaluate the performance and potential options for further improvement.
From our Belgian office our infrastructure team supports our mission critical WAN. Even with a stable solution such as Cato, we want to have a good and dedicated local partner. If we ever need help, it is good to know that we can rely on Expereo 24×7.”
Built on exacting science and powered by human imagination, Kemin is an ingredient manufacturer committed to improving the quality, safety and efficacy of feed, food and health-related products.
Through this commitment, Kemin touches more than 3.8 billion lives every day with their products and employees worldwide. To think globally and act locally, Kemin with HQ in the US, operates in 90 countries with manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Brazil, China, India, Italy, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the United States.