Digital transformation best practice for Australian businesses

Kennards Hire uses SD-WAN to create its 'network of the future'

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Kennards Hire uses SD-WAN to create its 'network of the future'

Partner content funded by Fortinet.

Equipment rental giant Kennards Hire has fast-tracked its move to cloud applications with the eight week rollout of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) network architecture to 180 branches.

The rapid deployment has simplified network management and improved network reliability. It is also expected to save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The rollout was a big technological move for Kennards Hire, which IT infrastructure lead Nicolas Aragnou says tries to “stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, security, and general well-being” to enable its 1,500 employees across Australia and New Zealand to do their jobs.

The deployment was necessary to overcome an antiquated network architecture and inflexible telecommunications provider – which Kennards Hire leaders felt was hindering the business.

Previously, the company used expensive Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections to route all traffic through its primary data centre. Setting up those MPLS connections for a site could take several days.

That architecture no longer made sense as employees in branches needed to access software residing in multiple public clouds. Kennards Hire had migrated its core enterprise resource planning system onto Amazon Web Services, and rolled out several Internet of Things applications, running on Microsoft Azure.

In this distributed application environment, routing all traffic through the data centre had become needlessly expensive due to the cost and inflexibility of legacy MPLS services.

These problems were also affecting customers. “We faced a lot of issues around system downtime and interruptions, which ultimately affected our customer experience,” Aragnou recalls.

“We want to keep customers as happy as possible, and keep them coming back – so we need to empower the branches to run as seamlessly as possible.”

 

 

Efficient connectivity to cloud applications

The Kennards Hire IT team explored alternative options that would allow branches to connect to core systems over their own faster Internet services, while avoiding any reduction in data and application security.

An SD-WAN-based alternative fit the bill. It allowed the company to manage branch employees’ access to new cloud-based applications while maintaining a single, secure network that could be easily managed and expanded quickly.

The team chose the Fortinet SD-Branch platform, which combines Fortinet Secure SD-WAN with FortiSwitch, FortiAP access points and FortiExtender network devices.

This has improved the application experience for users and strengthened security and compliance, while reducing operational overheads.

It has also dramatically sped up the process of connecting branches to the Kennards Hire IT environment. Using the Fortinet SD-WAN platform and its FortiManager companion administrative tool, the Kennards Hire IT team can complete the onboarding process in 20 minutes instead of several days.

“We could send a fresh vanilla device out to a site,” Aragnou says, “and within 20 minutes we could have a fully operational branch.”

Better performance, lower-cost networking

As well as improving cybersecurity within Kennards Hire, the SD-WAN implementation has helped the company increase the performance and reliability of its branch-office connections. Failover of dropped connections occurs within seconds rather than two to three minutes.

Centralising security management reporting and analytics has significantly reduced the administrative overhead required to support the Kennards Hire network.

The network is now “invisible” to end users, Aragnou says, allowing employees to focus on serving customers rather than worrying about IT issues.

As mentioned, the rollout is also expected to result in significant savings.

It is also enabling Kennards Hire to better execute its corporate strategy as it moves more workloads into the cloud. “The future is moving away from hardware to virtual,” Aragnou says. “Obviously, keeping that relationship with Fortinet [enables us to] move from an on-premises data center toward a virtual cloud infrastructure, utilising Fortinet products to protect the borders for us.”

Aragnou adds: “[Fortinet’s technology] really gives us options around how we create our network of the future.”

Contact Fortinet to learn more about SD-WAN networking.

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