This is the question that VF Corporation was faced with. They are a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel with more than 30 brands, including Wrangler, The North Face, Lee, Vans, and Nautica. They sell through retailers in 150 countries and their workforce is distributed across 770 global offices. To reduce IT costs they were consolidating branch office servers and applications in centralized data centers, but this created a challenge with transferring large CAD image files.
VF Corp used a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) application for apparel design that was hosted on servers in the branch office. The IT department wanted to deploy a new application in the data center to reduce the costs of maintaining it and give them better control over data. The designers use this application all day every day and need access to the large CAD image files that it creates, so this move presented a challenge to the WAN over which these files would have to travel.
“When we tested the new application during development, downloading images over the WAN took an average of 2 to 3 minutes, and up to 5 minutes,” says Billy Yawn, the network architect, for VF Corporation. “Before deploying the application to branch offices, we needed a WAN acceleration solution.”
The IT department began looking for a WAN acceleration solution that VF Corp would use for the PLM application as well as other centrally hosted applications, including Lotus Notes email, Microsoft file services, web browsing, and SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). After evaluating two leading WAN acceleration solutions and speaking with industry analysts, VF Corp selected Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS).
“Our tests proved that the combination of prepositioning and flow optimization in Cisco WAAS significantly increased performance for the apparel-design application,” Yawn said. Other factors influencing VF’s decision included their excellent experience with other Cisco solutions for the network, such as Unified Communications. “We prefer to work with just a few, trusted vendors,” Yawn said.
VF started by deploying Cisco WAAS in 13 large offices. The IT department prepositioned approximately 100 GB of design images on the Cisco WAAS appliances in each office. Designers access these images over the LAN, and only the changes travel across the WAN, accelerating response time and conserving WAN bandwidth. Designers who work in other offices will begin using the centralized apparel-design application when their offices receive Cisco WAAS during scheduled network refresh activities.
“Fast application performance is important for designers because we’re constantly trying new features to get just the right looks. When we don’t have to wait a long time to download images, I can try a few new ideas without worrying about missing a deadline.” Says Billy Yawn. For more information on VF Corp’s WAAS deployment see this case study.