With increasing demand for bandwidth and growing use of cloud applications, in 2019 Van Leeuwen were facing a substantial increase in cost for the lines ultimately decided to investigate the promising world of software defined wide area networks.
From MPLS to SASE
In 2019, Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group operated in 40 countries worldwide. Its European offices were connected using a 10-year-old MPLS-based network, with the international offices outside of Europe using VPN connections.
Wiljoh Beukers, Manager Technical Support at Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group: “We had built and managed the VPN-based network ourselves. In practice, it was not the reliable network we needed for our international operations. The MPLS network was stable, but with increasing demand for bandwidth and growing use of cloud applications, we were facing a substantial increase in cost for the lines. When our MPLS-contracts were about to expire, we decided to investigate the promising world of software defined wide area networks.
Van Leeuwen started a selection process for a new wide area network which ultimately led to Expereo being chosen as supplier. Wiljoh Beukers: “The solution proposed by Expereo offered the best value for money. One of the reasons we chose Expereo was that they addressed our requirement for reduced management through improved simplicity. When you use the same type of connections worldwide, the management of the network becomes easier, resulting in lower cost and improved control.
Security was another important precondition for us. With our old MPLS-based network, we had to secure all connections between the individual lines ourselves. Expereo proposed a solution that seamlessly integrates security into the network.”
The implementation of SASE
This solution is called Secure Access Service Edge or SASE. It combines the functions of network and security point solutionsinto a unified, global cloud-native service. It is an architectural transformation of enterprise networking and security that enables IT to provide a holistic, agile and adaptable service for digital business.
The SASE solution was first tested in a Proof of Concept. Part of this test was a security test carried out by a specializedcompany to validate that the solution indeed resisted various threat types. After successful completion of the PoC, the global roll-out commenced.
Wiljoh Beukers: “The roll-out went very smoothly. Expereo sent one or two preconfigured devices to every location and arranged one or multiple business-grade internet connections. The actual configuration is dependent on the location and our need for performance and redundancy. At the location, the device is connected to the internet line and, with remote support from Expereo, the location is ready to go live within two hours.”
“Replacing expensive leased lines with business-grade internet connections immediately reduced costs by 50%.” Wiljoh Beukers: “With the added security, the net cost of the SASE network is more or less the same as in the old situation. We now pay the same for our global network as previously for just our European connections, and this time with security embedded into the solution. We are looking at the same cost, but with a far higher value for us.
We also like the flexibility. With MPLS, we were forced to sign long-lasting agreements and delivery of the line could take weeks to months. If we now open a new office, we send the necessary information to Expereo and a few days later we’re live and connected. All it needs is a working internet connection at the site.
With the COVID 19 outbreak, we experienced another big advantage of the SASE solution: when our employees dial in with a VPN client, they are automatically connected to the nearest Point of Presence in the backbone. This means that the load from all the people who were suddenly working from home was spread across many access points around the world, rather than the limited number of POP access points many other companies rely on. In no time we had around 50% of Van Leeuwen employees working from home, without any significant issues.
And there is another interesting aspect: each year we perform a security survey, including hack and intrusion attempts. We have become a better-secured business, because all traffic between all subsidiaries is now checked and monitored
At the end of 2019, Van Leeuwen acquired Benteler Distribution. This more than doubled the size of the company: it grew from about 40 to over 80 locations, and from 1,100 to 2,600 employees. Wiljoh Beukers: “I am not the only one who is very satisfied about our new network. I am also getting positive feedback from within our organization. For us, it was a logical choice to also connect the Benteler Distribution locations to our SASE-based network, which we plan to roll out shortly.”
Wiljoh Beukers: “I am really happy with the collaboration with Expereo. It is a truly professional organization. I find it important we can directly talk to people who have an indepth knowledge of our environment, so they can help us quickly if needed. Expereo is the single point of contact for our network. We wanted to work with one partner so there is no discussion about who does what if there is an issue with the network.”
Van Leeuwen is an international distribution company specializing in steel pipes, and pipe and tube applications.
The family-owned company, with its head office in Zwijndrecht, the Netherlands, was founded in 1924 and is active in virtually all industrial sectors. The Group, including the acquired company Benteler Distribution, has 84 branches spread throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and North America. The combination of global logistics and knowledge of products and customer applications makes Van Leeuwen a leading company in its markets