Financial Services Company

Firm grows locations while maintaining application performance, through WAN optimization.

Cash America Overview

Cash America International, Inc. is a Fort Worth, Texas-based specialty financial services company with a focus on financial services to individuals. Cash America also provides short-term cash advances via the Internet to customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada through its online subsidiary Enova Financial.

In 2011, Cash America had grown to over 750 U.S. retail locations and the consumer finance marketplace was becoming more competitive day-by-day. CashAmerica’ s formula for growth and beating the competition is built on offering an array of financial services from a growing number of retail locations. Some of the new financial services (Tax filing and insurance) are from 3rd party vendors in the form of software-as-a- service (SaaS). These SaaS applications enabled CashAmerica to quickly deliver new services in a timely fashion. Cash America’ s retail locations interaction with the SaaS application is through their Internet-based web portals. Cash America also had plans to roll out a new point-of-sale (POS) application that has greater scalability than the previous application and delivers enhanced automation and functionality to the retail location staffers.

In order to keep the staff at retail locations up-to-date and productive on the growing list of applications, CashAmerica implemented a Learning Management System (LMS) from SuccessFactors. The SuccessFactors LMS is a SaaS application based on Adobe-Flash to deliver video-based training over the Internet. Cash America uses SuccessFactors SaaS applications to train new hires and continually update employees so services
are delivered in a timely, consistent manner. On-going training for employees occurs monthly and quarterly and the Adobe Flash-based video content is quite large and can impact other network traffic when it is accessed by multiple users at the same time. The Cash America Network team wanted to find a way to mitigate the delivery impact of this important application on network resources.

To help address a larger number of retail stores and applications, CashAmerica IT added servers to address computing capacity. But by adding server capacity for the applications, the bottleneck became the 512K/ T1 connections out to the retail locations. In order to remove the bottleneck out to the retail locations, Cash America Network team upgraded most of the retail locations from 512K to MPLS-based T1 (1.544Mbps) connections.

Since 2004, Cash America had relied on Blue Coat PacketShaper to provide visibility and control over network traffic between the data center and the retail locations. PacketShaper had been a successful implementation that improved network reliability and application performance over satellite links to a few hundred locations. With the satellite links replaced by MPLS T1 connections and the new application (POS, tax services, SaaS training) PacketShaper could still provide visibility and control along with compression of traffic but was not optimizing the application traffic flows.

Blue Coat Solution

Cash America decided in mid-2011 that it needed to refresh its WAN optimization infrastructure so it could improve the performance of applications over the updated network infrastructure. Given the long relationship with Blue Coat and recognized value of PacketShaper, Blue Coat was asked to be a part of the decision making process.

Cash America set a strict criteria list that the next generation of WAN optimization had to meet in order in order for the business to continue growth and be competitive:

  • Improve performance of all internal and external applications out to remote retail locations
  • Reduce bandwidth used by each application in order to enable future expansion of services.
  • Control non-essential traffic on the WAN.
  • Optimize the implemented SuccessFactors LMS for on-going training

CashAmerica Network team tested Blue Coat and another vendor’s WAN optimization solutions against their set of internal and external applications and found that Blue Coat MACH5 at the WAN Core and Branch offices delivered superior acceleration, reliability and bandwidth savings. Blue Coat MACH5 was chosen to provide application acceleration and optimization between the primary data center (MACH 9000) and over 780 retail locations (MACH5 300). CashAmerica also decided to update the PacketShapers at the WAN Core and Internet edge in order to continue to have real-time visibility and deep control over application traffic on the WAN and Internet edge. CashAmerica has upgraded to PacketShaper Model 12000 at the data center core and 7500 at Internet edge.

Benefits

Blue Coat PacketShaper for visibility and control and MACH5 WAN optimization provided CashAmerica Network Services with the following improvements to their application infrastructure:

  • Average performance improvement between 78%-83% for internal and SaaS applications
  • Reduce bandwidth consumption of applications between 50% and 90%+
  • Sharp reduction in IT tickets from users at branch offices and internal application administrators
  • Core Internal applications protected from non-critical traffic on the WAN
  • Important SaaS application traffic prioritized and guaranteed bandwidth (incoming/ outgoing) to ensure performance for Branch offices
  • SuccessFactors Learning Management System (SaaS) training video consistently delivered without impacting other applications