Talon FAST™
#Europe's Leading Consultancy Firm Consolidates and Expands with Talon FAST™ **About SWECO** SWECO is Europe’s leading consultancy firm for planning and designing the communities and cities of the future. They work hard to ensure their work results in sustainable buildings, efficient infrastructure, and safe access to clean water. To ensure a tailored and unique customer experience, they offer qualified services in the fields of consulting, engineering, environmental technology, and architecture. SWECO recently acquired Dutch consultancy firm Grontmij, effectively doubling their staff to over 15,000 employees in Northern Europe. The company now delivers engineering projects in over 70 countries across the world every year and are continually expanding. **The Challenge: Streamlining acquisitions, integrating the newly acquired Grontmij firms** Due to their roles as engineers and designers, employees of SWECO need to utilize data and file intensive programs like AutoDesk AutoCAD, Civil3D and Revit, Dassault Systémes SolidWorks, CATIA, MATLAB, and many more. Each of these programs require massive amounts of resources in terms of storage capacity and processing power, and sharing the files between users across multiple locations can often take hours or even days. With the addition of over 7,000 new employees in remote offices around the world, totaling SWECO’s estate up to 270 locations globally, the existing IT infrastructure and associated file sharing solutions were under even more strain. SWECO needed to integrate Grontmij’s IT infrastructure, including storage and servers, while still providing an efficient file sharing experience to the distributed workforce. The addition of many remote locations, each housing a local file server, other servers running different IT infrastructure roles and features, made it nearly impossible for network and system administrators to manage these services. At the same time, users were struggling with collaboration on projects as each location was working on their own version of the truth, a local copy of their project data. **Storage & Cloud Strategy** Although SWECO pioneered a cloud transformation strategy, invested in a hybrid-cloud storage platform for its datacenter archival requirements, the infrastructure wasn’t designed to accommodate 7,000 new employees on a global scale. The challenge presented itself beyond the realm of the datacenter, for SWECO to revisit their distributed file storage requirements holistically. Over the years SWECO leveraged DFS-R replication for the purpose of centralized backup, meaning all files from local file servers in distributed locations were replicated back to the datacenter each night. The impact on the Wide Area Network (WAN), having to move enormous amounts of data between distributed sites and the datacenter, presented a major bottleneck in terms of RTO and RPO requirements. SWECO keeps over 500TB of project data backed up on central data servers in Stockholm, Sweden and the Netherlands. In order to maintain a consistent backup replication schedule, remote offices had been utilizing a WAN optimization devices to improve network transfer speeds without much success. The additional server sprawl made it next to impossible to maintain a consistent backup schedule. Not only did this make loss of company data a serious risk, it opened SWECO up to a potential security breach. While SWECO is continually expanding, their infrastructure couldn’t keep up. Their existing on-premise and cloud storage wasn’t able to scale to accommodate for the new users constantly being added to the system. Any additional storage they added only partially solved the problem. They needed a more permanent and modern solution. **Consolidated Storage & Modernized IT** SWECO needed a system that could drastically improve file sharing speeds, consolidate remote office infrastructure, centralize all company data and backups, and optimise global collaboration, without investing in new hardware for each individual office. They also needed a solution that could continue to scale alongside their growing workforce, without inhibiting project workflow and file sharing. When SWECO approached Microsoft’s team with their problem, Microsoft recommended Talon FAST™ in conjunction with their existing Microsoft Azure cloud-centric strategy. Talon FAST™ provided all the necessary benefits SWECO needed to optimize their existing hybrid-cloud storage and global file sharing solutions. After some consultation between SWECO IT managers, Talon, and Microsoft, four primary goals were defined for the initial deployment: Centralize and consolidate SWECO’s datacenters for better data control and disaster recovery Integrate existing infrastructure with future technology for expanding storage, either on-premise, hybrid-cloud or using the public cloud Streamline storage and servers to eliminate WAN optimization solutions and provide a unified virtualization strategy, including all roles and features required in the distributed offices, all on commodity hardware Deliver a high-performance experience for users globally, allowing for real-time collaboration on large file sets across offices, ensuring optimal performance for engineering applications like Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD, Inventor, Solidworks, etc. **The Proof!** In order to achieve these goals, the teams at Talon coordinated a pilot, like how to leverage SWECO’s existing storage types (on-premise SSD, HDD, and cloud storage), and how to optimize for high latency and low bandwidth between remote locations and central datacenters. Once they had a baseline understanding of SWECO’s current WAN optimization and hybrid cloud storage systems, they came up with a system that would not only meet all of the goals, but provide an effective, dynamic solution tailored to SWECO’s current and future needs. The first issue to address was disaster recovery. SWECO’s current infrastructure wasn’t designed to easily scale to accommodate for the new users. This was creating slowdowns, packet loss, poor communication, and presented a serious security risk. Since the current systems weren’t compatible, Talon utilized VMware High Availability (HA) to improve reliability and reduce the need for dedicated standby hardware in remote offices. They also introduced Geo-redundant storage (GRS) for cross-regional data replication to protect company data in the event of an outage or other disaster. These systems, in conjunction with Microsoft Azure cloud storage and Talon FAST™’s delta differencing, not only ensured SWECO’s data was always safe and protected but eliminated the need for excess hardware and allowed the company to simplify their IT infrastructure. In addition to preparing for disaster recovery, FAST™ consolidated and centralized SWECO’s existing data. FAST™ utilizes intelligent file caching technology to store only current, relevant project data at branch locations. Any updates to those files are delta differenced back to the centralized data set. This allowed SWECO to consolidate their archive data in their existing offices, as well as the newly-acquired Grontmij offices. By utilizing a tiered cloud storage strategy alongside on-premise storage and other storage solutions like NetApp, they can separate active and archival data to ensure simpler data management, and avoid cloud consumption egress charges due to excess or duplicate files. One of the major benefits of this system is that it allowed SWECO’s engineers to collaborate globally, with near instant response times. Since they now had multi-regional offices across the EMEA, APAC, and the Americas, the performance for their end users was crucial. The new hybrid on-premise and cloud storage infrastructure, in conjunction with FAST™’s centralized data set and intelligent file caching, meant that all users, no matter the region, could collaborate as if they were in the same room. This not only met all of the goals for SWECO’s new systems, but it allowed them to eliminate the need for Riverbed WAN optimization. While their previous systems had done the job, they performed more like a stop-gap solution, and didn’t provide the seamless, efficient collaboration experience their engineers needed. FAST™ provided a consistent file sharing experience across all offices, and simplified the file sharing process. Finally, FAST™ provided users with easy access to a centralized data set and file version control. When engineers access design files located in the central hubs, a global lock is placed on the file. This not only ensures no one else can access the file, but it guarantees there’s only one current, correct version of the file. Once that user is done, other users can access the same file to view or make changes, and thanks to FAST™’s intelligent file caching, they can download the updates almost instantly. No matter how big or small the file, FAST™ provides SWECO’s users with seamless global collaboration. With the installation of Talon FAST™ and hybrid cloud solutions on SWECO’s systems, new and old users were integrated into a seamless collaboration and file sharing experience with almost 20x the performance. Now that they’ve seen FAST™ in action, SWECO will be expanding the FAST™ storage solution to 270 sites globally in the coming year. **Results** By deploying Talon FAST™ to remote locations, SWECO was able to consolidate remote data in their current and newly acquired Grontmij offices, without investing in new hardware. They now utilize a multi-tiered centralized cloud storage strategy that allows users to access company data sets from anywhere in the globe. FAST™ also eliminated the need for Riverbed WAN optimization and provided a seamless, near instant file sharing and collaboration experience for end users. SWECO’s architects, engineers, and designers can now share massive design files from programs like AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit, Solidworks, and more, without worrying about transfer times or file versions. “We’re extremely pleased with the results. Before it could take hours for our engineers to share project files, now they can do it in minutes. FAST™ has improved our productivity across the board.” SWECO saw significant benefits from the Talon FAST™ deployment: - Talon FAST™ addressed collaboration issues between remote offices on large files sets - New and old remote offices were integrated into one seamless network - Talon FAST™ leveraged SWECO and Grontmij’s existing infrastructure - Talon FAST™ prepared SWECO’s teams for data loss and disaster recovery **Vision for the Future** “We’re going to be expanding our offices even more in the future, and we’re looking forward to integrating them into the FAST™ network. It was a big headache to add new users into the system before, but now it’s simple and easy. We’re excited to see how FAST™ continues to change how we do business.” *Learn more about FAST™ and how you can improve consolidation at branch offices* Learn more »