Waters Corporation, a publicly traded company (NYSE:WAT) headquartered in Milford, Massachusetts, designs, manufactures, sells, and services analytical laboratory instruments used by scientists at research-driven pharmaceutical, personal care product, and food and beverage manufacturers, independent testing laboratories, governmental agencies, and university research departments. With 5,000 employees in 30 countries, revenue of $1.47 billion in 2007, and a distributor network spanning the globe, the company continues to maintain its market-leading position.
Waters runs a single global instance of SAP to support its worldwide business spanning ERP, CRM, PLM, SCM, GRC and HRM delivered through an SAP NetWeaver Portal. Nearly 2,000 of its 5,000 global employees access the portal and web applications from outside the office, while the company’s business partners access various portions of the portal to interact with Waters’ employees and customers. Though these web applications delivered via SSL VPN enable global business operations, the productivity of remote employees and partners can be adversely affected by issues beyond Waters’ control, such as outages caused by earthquakes and poor Internet performance in some areas of the world. With so many employees and partners relying on the performance and reliability of these web applications, Waters does all it can to ensure business continuity and capitalize on business opportunities.
Waters needed to meet two key requirements to support its objectives:
Only Akamai’s globally distributed content delivery network (CDN) and intelligent routing are able to bypass middle-mile problems to ensure fast and reliable delivery of any IP-enabled application,” explains Paul Newton, CTO for Waters.
Waters strives for excellence in all it does, including ensuring five nines of availability for all SAP applications used by its worldwide employee base and partners. When there are Internet outages due to human error – such as cable cuts – or natural events – such as earthquakes, the company wants to be sure it is able to conduct day-to-day business operations without interruption. “Because of the dynamic routing capabilities of the Akamai network and IP Application Accelerator solution, our applications are available even in the event of outages. That eliminates end-user frustration and promotes productivity,” continues Newton. In early 2008, an outage reduced general Internet capacity between Europe and the Middle East by 75% and slowed application response times by as much as 6X for all global users. For Waters’ Indian-based employees and partners in particular, the cable cuts led to page response times as high as 20 seconds.
Although Waters had not yet completed the IP Application Accelerator implementation at the time of the outage, other existing Akamai customers reported response times that had been improved by 300% to an average of less than four seconds. “We can’t take the chance of lines being cut somewhere in the world and not being able to conduct business in the last week of a quarter. Akamai now ensures that won’t happen,” says Newton.
Before Akamai, Waters’ customers and partners in dispersed geographies experienced intermittent web performance issues. Whether users are trying to fill out sales opportunities or expense reports, consistent screen-to-screen performance is critical to efficient business processes. “If customers and partners experience long delays to conduct transactions, it can adversely impact our business operations,” says Newton.
With Akamai in place, tests have shown that Waters’ web applications are delivered significantly faster on average around the world. “Our SSL VPN strategy was always effective in enabling remote connectivity, but IPA makes it more effective, especially for challenged areas like China and India. Our remote users are very happy with the consistent performance,” says Jeff Lampert, Manager, Systems Architecture.
As one of the few companies running its entire operations on single global instance of SAP software, Waters gains great benefits in the form of centralized services and economies of scale. “We believe strongly in supporting our global user base with a single source of the truth, but the success and viability of our global operations’ strategy was at risk if we couldn’t ensure reliability, performance, and consistency. Akamai gives us the confidence to deliver our critical business applications over the Internet while leveraging existing SSL VPN hardware,” concludes Newton.
Waters Corporation creates business advantages for laboratory-dependent organizations by delivering practical and sustainable innovation to enable significant advancements in such areas as healthcare delivery, environmental management, food safety, and water quality worldwide. Pioneering a connected portfolio of separations science, laboratory information management, mass spectrometry and thermal analysis, Waters technology breakthroughs and laboratory solutions provide an enduring platform for customer success. With revenue of $1.47 billion in 2007 and 5,000 employees, Waters is driving scientific discovery and operational excellence for customers worldwide. For more information, visit www.waters.com.