Moving to a Software Defined Framework
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Moving to a Software Defined Framework

By Rathi Murthy, CTO, Gap Inc.

Rathi Murthy, CTO, Gap Inc.

As the shopping experience has evolved, so have the customer’s expectations of the experience they will have each time that they interact with us. They expect fast service, short wait times, an easy way to discover products, and more personal interactions with associates. To deliver this level of customer experience, we must have the technological backbone to support these interactions and avoid slow response times or even service outages that keep our customers from discovering our products.

That’s why, over the past year it has been a priority for our teams to innovate and modernize our technology and infrastructure as we lead a large scale digital transformation across the company. One of our key focus areas has been to move to a Software-Defined Networking infrastructure. This provides us several advantages, such as:

Easier Network Provisioning – Ability to accelerate service delivery by provisioning both virtual and physical network devices from a central location using zero touch provisioning

Centralized Controller - Simplified operations and management as we continue to automate our operations in our complex environment with thousands of devices using software. SDN provides a single set of APIs to create a single management console for physical and virtual devices and also supports management of both physical and virtual switches and network devices from a central controller.

Centralized Security Management – With virtualization, its sometimes challenging to ensure that the right firewall and content filtering policies are applied consistently to all our virtual machines. With SDN Controller, we now have the ability to control and distribute security and policy information consistently throughout our ecosystem.

Reduced Capital Expenditures – Many of the routine network administration issues can now be automated. SDN makes it easier to optimize commoditized hardware.

Streaming Telemetry Metrics - Our real-time metrics provide granular detail which enables quicker fault detection and resolution resulting in improved availability and quicker time to repair.

Lower operating costs - SD WAN has allowed us to shave millions in operating costs by giving us the ability to utilize economical broadband/LTE circuits in lieu of expensive private circuits and to provide an intelligent routing platform based on quality of these circuits

Gap Inc. is embracing software defined networking in critical areas of our business today: our global retail stores and our supply chain distribution centers which service all of our brands across stores and online, as well as our corporate offices and data centers.

This work is taking place across all layers of the networking stack: SD-WAN, SD-LAN, SD-WLAN and SD-Datacenter.

Cloud computing is a very important part of our digital transformation journey. As applications continue to move to the cloud, networking professionals are quickly realizing that traditional WANs were never architected for a dynamic, internet-based environment. SD-WAN simplifies our cloud connectivity and enables us to respond to changing business needs with speed and agility. We now have the ability to easily open stores and branches across the globe, which would have taken months of planning and deployment in the past. Today, we have SD-WAN deployed in over 1,700 stores and we are currently underway to add hundreds more across our network.

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