In the modern digital economy, global food and beverage manufacturers face a conundrum: their physical supply chains remain as important as ever, but they must also ensure the resilience of their digital supply chains. A breakdown anywhere in their IT infrastructure—such as a cloud service outage—will inevitably lead to logistical issues, lost sales and a negative customer experience.
This is why digital leaders in the food and beverage space recognize the importance of ensuring redundancy and availability in their IT environments. They understand that now more than ever, manufacturing and logistics depend on agile, interconnected digital infrastructure, distributed in key locations throughout the world. For this reason, they’re working to make sure that infrastructure is available whenever and wherever they need it.
It’s particularly important for these businesses to ensure high-performance hybrid multicloud networking. Cloud services can help them stand up new capabilities and scale their global presence quickly, but only if they can move data and workloads to and from the cloud with no delays or interruptions. Without reliable networking capabilities to get the right traffic to the right place at the right time, enterprises simply won’t be able to use cloud services to their full potential.
Enable smarter, more resilient manufacturing
This white paper examines how manufacturers can enable greater supply chain resilience by transforming their centralized IT to a modernized distributed IT infrastructure.Download Now
Equinix has helped thousands of businesses build out agile, resilient digital supply chains, thereby putting themselves in a position to thrive. Many customers know us primarily for our global colocation footprint of more than 240 data centers across six continents, but we also offer digital services that help businesses deploy modernized digital infrastructure on demand, with lower complexity and higher availability built in by design.
Customer case study: Investing for lower costs and greater reliability
One Equinix customer in the food and beverage industry—a global coffee manufacturer and retailer—undertook a digital transformation initiative to increase cloud performance and cut costs, all while driving greater resiliency. The solution was built around the following digital services on Platform Equinix®:
- Network Edge, which offers virtual network functions (VNFs) from top providers like Cisco, VMware and Palo Alto Networks, deployed in a matter of minutes
- Equinix Fabric™, which helps customers connect digital infrastructure and services at software speed—including rapid virtual connections to leading cloud providers
- Equinix Internet Access, which offers consistent, reliable internet access via two or more upstream ISPs in each market
The customer had been using MPLS technology as a key part of its networking infrastructure for many years. However, in an era when hybrid multicloud architectures play an increasingly important role in most digital supply chains and dynamic software-defined network expansion is mandatory, there was a strong business case to grow beyond point-to-point connectivity solutions.
The company relies heavily on hundreds of apps running on Microsoft Azure, but also uses cloud services from Amazon Web Services and Oracle Cloud. It needed its new solution to be cloud-agnostic, so that it could continue to take full advantage of each provider’s unique strengths. Like many other global enterprises, the customer began to consider how it could replace MPLS—particularly for hybrid multicloud networking use cases, which require optimal flexibility, scalability, cost-efficiency and resiliency.
Specifically, the customer had been experiencing connectivity issues with their MPLS circuits and was looking into a replacement WAN backbone to ensure stable, reliable connectivity between its warehouses and manufacturing sites, such as coffee roasting and packaging facilities. Any time an MPLS circuit went down, the customer wasn’t able to process deliveries in or out of its sites. This caused a logistical breakdown, with delivery trucks literally backing up outside the facilities.
As part of its digital transformation initiative, the customer also wanted to retire at least one of its private data centers. By removing the need for all multicloud traffic to pass through that centralized data center hub, the company planned to decrease latency while optimizing performance and flexibility.
Network Edge supports network agility and modernization
The customer initiated its Equinix solution by deploying Network Edge routers and firewalls before eventually adding SD-WAN edge gateways.
The Network Edge devices are supported by global software-defined interconnection services from Equinix Fabric. The company was able to connect its remote locations to Equinix Fabric using physical cross connects and Bring-Your-Own-Connection (BYOC) capabilities. From there, it created a virtual connection from Equinix Fabric to the Network Edge devices.
The company deployed the three varieties of Network Edge devices as part of a single virtual networking stack. Since all the devices were virtual, they could be deployed quickly, despite the global chip shortage that’s causing months of wait time for delivery of physical hardware. Network Edge is also a vendor-neutral solution, meaning the customer was able to choose its preferred technology provider for each device, while ensuring complete connectivity and interoperability among the different devices.
In all, the company deployed more than thirty Network Edge devices across six metros; from those six metros, it extended connectivity to more than 50 remote manufacturing facilities.
Equinix Internet Access provides an additional degree of redundant connectivity
Equinix Internet Access is a blended ISP solution that’s vital for monitoring and providing out-of-band management for Network Edge devices. In addition, customers have come to rely on it as a primary and secondary internet service that can be quickly deployed with virtual services.
With the service, customers get the simplicity of multiple local ISPs in each market, all managed via a single contract. To get this level of globally distributed internet access via third-party solutions, customers would likely need to piece together a complex patchwork of multiple contracts with providers in different regions.
As the customer connected its BYOC circuits into the virtual Network Edge devices, it updated its global WAN environment to replace some of its legacy MPLS circuits. Equinix Fabric allowed global connectivity with the Network Edge devices for new multicloud and service provider traffic to the manufacturing sites. However, in recognition of just how important continuous uptime is for the company, it decided to take things a step further by adding Equinix Internet Access.
Deploying Equinix Internet Access in two major transit hubs enabled new levels of compliance and security for the organization. The service was tied to the customer’s new SD-WAN deployment from its Network Edge stack. This blended ISP offering can be managed via a single pane of glass in the Equinix Customer Portal—which is also used for management of Equinix Fabric and Network Edge—and provides public IP addresses for setting routes for the new network design. This meant the customer had access to multiple ISPs in each location; in the event of an issue with one ISP, another ISP would take over utilizing the same IP address.
With three levels of redundant connectivity across its global network infrastructure—Network Edge cloud routers, Equinix Fabric interconnection, and Equinix Internet Access—the company has essentially eliminated outages, ensuring that its roasting and packaging facilities can continue functioning no matter what.
Equinix solution helps coffee company connect remote sites across the globe
The Equinix solution enables future elastic design and cost and performance benefits
The Equinix solution also drove cost benefits. Simply replacing two of its legacy MPLS circuits helped the company defer $50,000 a month in operating costs. The customer drove further cost savings by retiring one of its data centers, and shifted from CAPEX to OPEX by deploying VNFs instead of physical hardware. In the end, the cost savings generated were more than sufficient to offset the initial costs of the project. The additional savings can now be reinvested in other areas of the company’s digital transformation initiative.
The solution also supports greater cloud performance. In particular, private, dedicated interconnection from Equinix Fabric helps move traffic to and from the cloud quickly, while support for virtual multicloud networking gives the company flexibility to add or change connections as needed. Platform Equinix is also home to many cloud on-ramps from top providers, all of which can be accessed directly via Equinix Fabric. This helps the customer ensure low-latency access to the cloud services it needs.
After implementing Equinix Internet Access, the customer immediately began to evaluate how it would continue to grow the service in the future. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, Equinix Internet Access offers direct fast-path connections to major content destinations, resulting in superior, low-latency performance. This makes the solution well suited to support a variety of digital use cases, including deploying applications for optimized performance and enabling distributed traffic exchange at the edge. The solution is also tied to Equinix Internet Exchange®, the largest global peering solution. Global service provider coverage varies based on local carriers to remain agile and scalable and ensure high uptime.
The customer also took full advantage of Platform Equinix in utilizing the API capabilities of Equinix Fabric, Network Edge and Equinix Internet Access. Network Edge’s built-in support for Terraform helped the customer automate infrastructure deployment and quickly add new devices for new projects in a completely self-service manner. Now, the company is free to continue shaping its digital infrastructure to meet the changing needs of the business, without Equinix personnel ever having to get involved.
To learn more about how some other digital leaders in manufacturing are designing their IT infrastructure to maximize digital supply chain resiliency, read the white paper “Enable smarter, more resilient manufacturing” today.