Waltons, South Africa’s largest stationery and office equipment company, has successfully deployed 50 Riverbed Steelhead appliances at locations throughout South Africa in order to optimise bandwidth and improve ERP transaction time.

Laurence Slotow, national IT manager at Waltons, says: “Our ERP system relies heavily on the wide area network (WAN). Thanks to Riverbed we’ve managed to avoid a costly bandwidth upgrade and at the same time we are now able to access systems that were previously unusable. Riverbed has fundamentally changed the way we view our data and systems.”
“The use of the Riverbed appliances has provided us with numerous benefits,” adds Bütha van der Merwe, national network manager at Waltons. “These include boosting our network performance and enhancing our end user experience while saving the company money. We, like many other local companies, have been forced to build distributed network solutions because of the high cost and low availability of bandwidth in South Africa.
"Riverbed has now enabled us to change our mindset completely, and we have already started numerous other consolidation projects that should have an even bigger impact on our IT cost savings in the long run.”
Waltons, a member of the Bidvest Group, has 100 branch stores and seven regional offices located across South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique. Each regional office supports between 10 to 35 stores, all requiring access to the company’s ERP system.
Waltons outsources to a service provider that provides Internet services from its data center located in Cape Town. Prior to the Riverbed deployment, users at the regional offices and stores were experiencing severe delays when accessing internet applications, including the ERP system, via the WAN. The company initially believed that to overcome the problem it would need to upgrade bandwidth for many of the WAN links in use, which would be a costly exercise.
Pieter Bekker, account executive at Datacentrix, explains: “Waltons knew it had to overcome the issue of remote users being forced to wait too long to access critical applications, but wanted to find an alternative to increasing bandwidth costs. We suggested they consider a WAN optimization solution from Riverbed."
Waltons decided to run a “proof of concept” project and installed Steelhead appliances at four of its regional offices.
“The results were immediate,” says Bekker. “Users noticed a dramatic increase in performance.”
After a successful trial, Waltons decided to deploy Steelhead appliances at every regional office. In the third phase Waltons has installed Steelhead appliances at many store locations in South Africa.
As a possible future project, Waltons is reviewing how it can consolidate data and remove servers from its regional offices.