Oracle/Talari Networks – Case Study – Sno Isle Libraries

A Talari SD-WAN is Something to Read About at Sno-Isles’ Library

With 123 community libraries serving 713,835 residents, and covering 2,260 square miles in Washington’s Snohomish and Island counties, Sno-Isle is celebrating over 50 years of service. In 2015, over 9 million library items were borrowed from Sno-Isles’ libraries, giving people a lot to read about. Sno-Isle has 460 employees, and over 500 computers available for public use.

Sno-Isle’s Challenge

At Sno-Isle Libraries, where the library’s main source of revenue comes primarily from property and timber taxes and the entire IT operating budget is $16.6 million, John Mulhall, Information Technology Manager at Sno-Isle, was being continually challenged on two fronts in using MPLS. The MPLS network that was in place was becoming increasingly expensive with increasing demands on bandwidth, and consuming a sizeable amount of the budget. “We continually looks for ways to cut costs and fulfill the library’s goal of being good stewards of public tax dollars,” says Mulhall.

Secondly, the MPLS links within Sno-Isle’s network were consistently failing, causing dropped calls in between branches, slow or offline internet, delayed emails, and considerably impacted customer transactions and the libraries book check-out system.

One of the biggest concerns for Sno-Isle was that the library’s Avaya VoIP gear used for site-to-site phone calls would suffer from Internet-based cable and DSL connections that offered no quality of service guarantees, Mulhall says. “It was scary to rely on those kinds of circuits,” he says.

Enabling Hybrid WAN

Mulhall learned about Talari after visiting Talari’s booth at Interop five years ago. He first tested out the appliances at one of his branches in the hope they could help cut his WAN costs. They worked exactly as advertised, even handling VoIP traffic without any major hiccups. Mulhall then deployed the appliances at all of the library’s 23 locations and completely replaced his MPLS network with an assortment of standard Internet connections in 2011. The Internet-based WAN was being supplemented by a few high-capacity dark fiber links for internal traffic between buildings.

The Talari SD-WAN Solution

The goal of finding a solution that was less expensive was solved with Talari’s SD-WAN, which aggregates and multiplexes multiple inexpensive connections to provide a reliable WAN that performs better than any of the individual services. Each site now has multiple WAN connections, and the Talari boxes pick the best performing route possible between each site. “There is an upside to the new WAN,” says Mulhall. “The MPLS links were T-1s and traffic couldn’t burst above that. The new connections support more bandwidth, which means high-traffic chores like data backup can be done much more quickly.” The library has not only saved at least $400,000 annually as a result, but it has also improved the performance and redundancy of its WAN. Whereas each branch previously only had one MPLS link that backhauled internal and external traffic to Sno-Isle’s data center, a typical branch now aggregates four different Internet connections. The Talari appliance also identifies traffic that doesn’t need to be filtered to be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act and sends it directly out to the Internet.

“It’s allowed us to really use the intelligence of those appliances to say, ‘OK, what kind of traffic is it?’” Mulhall says. “We did notice a performance improvement because with our standard MPLS network, everything goes back via the WAN to your headquarters and then out to the main Internet connection. Now we can send it out to multiple routes. It has made a huge difference for both our customers and employees,” he says.

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