Woolworths brings Cisco into large-scale network transformation

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Woolworths brings Cisco into large-scale network transformation

Managing connectivity to tens of thousands of networked devices.

Woolworths has revealed it now has over 2000 connected devices in each retail store, a network of over 30,000 access points nationwide it is now transforming the management of.

The company has partnered with Cisco to deploy a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and secure access control system across its operations.

In addition to covering its 3000 stores, the SD-WAN will also network Woolworths’ offices, data centres and distribution centres, with work to be completed over the next 18 months.

iTnews understands upgrades have already been made to Woolworths’ data centre network where benefits are already being realised.

The transformation project was unveiled in mid-June at the US version of the Cisco Live conference.

In a video, it was noted that a decade ago, a store had 40 connected devices. 

“Now, it has over 2000,” the video states. 

“Woolworths has 3000 stores, a network with over 30,000 access points. That's an opportunity to perform and transform.”

Together with other networked assets outside of its retail stores, it is believed upwards of 86,000 network devices are connected to Woolworths' network environment.

“Cisco's SD-WAN and Secure Access is powering our next big step, delivered in a record time, just a few months,” Woolworths’ general manager of IT Patrick Misciagna said.

It is understood, however, that the rollout of Cisco hardware and software is ongoing, with 18 months left to run on the work.

SD-WAN technology is used to manage connectivity between an organisation’s physical sites and clouds, with “real-time traffic steering based on centralised policy”.

Woolworths is anticipating being able to manage its network loads more efficiently and make changes faster in response to network conditions.

The technology is also likely to improve visibility into the performance of the network at different locations.

The size of the deployment is also noteworthy, with the Cisco Live video touting it as “the largest undertaking of its type in the world”.

At the same time as SD-WAN is being deployed, Woolworths is separately upgrading physical connections to its retail stores to NBN fibre, under a deal signed in early 2019.

iTnews reported in September last year that Woolworths was connecting 50 retail sites a week with NBN fibre, for a total of 1200 sites at that time.

It is understood that the company is around 70 percent through a first tranche of 1800 locations identified for NBN cutover, meaning the number is likely to be closer to 1300 now.

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