Glaston and Elisa have joined forces and built an intelligent SD-WAN network. It supports Glaston’s global business as an individual ICT service.
Glaston manufactures heat treatment machines for glass processing, as well as insulating glass and automotive glass machines. The global company also provides lifecycle services for its machines. It has production facilities in Finland, Germany, Switzerland and China, and sales offices in approximately 20 countries.
The 150-year-old company was established in Kyrönkoski, Finland. Last year, it doubled its size by acquiring the Swiss-German Bystoric Glass. Today, Glaston employs approximately 800 people. Its net sales amounted to approximately EUR 200 million in 2019.
A cost-effective solution
Glaston and Elisa have cooperated for a long time in traditional network and communication solutions. However, global business requires more: you need to have an intelligent network solution that reacts quickly to any business changes and offers the same user experience to all end users everywhere in the world.
“We contacted Elisa and suggested that SD-WAN might be the best solution for our needs,” says Janne Puhakka, ICT director at Glaston.
Puhakka was interested in SD-WAN because it is a cost-effective solution for a medium-sized global company, as with it, activities on different continents can work together effectively.
“The repayment time of the SD-WAN investment is 6–9 months for us,” counts Puhakka.
A part of the change in architecture
The development of the new intelligent network solution was begun at the same time as the company was transferring its services from its own data centres to Azure’s cloud service. The deployment of new technologies has been part of a larger change in business architecture.
“We wanted to create a solution that serves our designers in other factories the same way as the ones in Finland. We connected Citrix Cloud to the SD-WAN solution to replace the traditional VPN. It serves external designers and our other partners.”
On top of other benefits, a major advantage of the SD-WAN network, which is based on Fortinet’s FortiGate technology, is its solid data security. Data security becomes increasingly important in companies that operate globally.
Connecting networks flexibly
The benefits of the SD-WAN solution have been highlighted since the acquisition of Bystronic Glass. Compared with traditional technologies, it is considerably faster and more cost-effective to connect the networks of two companies using modern technology.
Glaston is currently studying how to use FortiGate technology in the IoT world. There are nearly 4,000 machines around world that are manufactured by the company, of which 150 are connected to Glaston’s monitoring centre through the Azure cloud. The aim is to connect machines manufactured by Bystronic Glass to the monitoring as well.
“We will find out how we could take the smart network to the customer. The challenge is that many of the machines in exotic places only have slow and unstable data connections.”
It is important for Glaston to continuously monitor its machines, because they are intended to be used for decades, and their maintenance and service is an important part of the full-range service offered to customers. Data security is crucial when connecting customers to the network. It is ensured by network segmentation enabled by SD-WAN.
Elephant, piece by piece
The intelligent SD-WAN network has been deployed in stages. First, Glaston’s own networks were updated. Then, Bystronic’s networks were consolidated, and in the third phase, they were connected to the common intelligent SD-WAN network. The project begun in the spring of 2019, and it was completed at the beginning of September 2020.
“The elephant should be processed in pieces, so that after reaching intermediate goals, we can assess the final cost and repayment time,” says Puhakka.
At the start of Glaston’s and Elisa’s cooperation, finding the right technology took a bit more consideration than usual. The first one proved to be the wrong choice, after which negotiations led to Fortinet’s technology.
“The final outcome was good after we managed to get the right technology working with Elisa and Fortinet’s local experts. It was important that we dared to admit and fix the mistakes we made in the beginning. This increased our trust and ability to move the project forward,” says Puhakka.
Learning and developing new things together
“I’ve been happy with Elisa’s rapid responses and expertise. The company management is committed to delivering solutions that meet our needs. It is important for us that we get our services from one place – we don’t want them to be in different silos. By cooperating, we have developed methods, solved problems and deepened our cooperation.”
According to Puhakka, the benefits of the intelligent network include cost-effectiveness, global availability, centralised management, data security, and scalability in the event of business changes.
The experiences gained over the past year of the intelligent SD-WAN network and cooperation with Elisa are convincing.
“I couldn’t think of using any other solution in our company. This has met all our expectations, and I’m certain that the SD-WAN network will function perfectly in future. When skills and understanding increase in this ecosystem, we’ll discover new benefits all the time,” says Puhakka.
Article in Finnish: Älykäs verkko tukee Glastonin kasvua