Lancet Laboratories, one of the leading pathology laboratories operating throughout Africa, recently took the decision to implement software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and appointed Redvine and  VeloCloud SD-WAN by Dell and VMware to tackle the task.

The intention: to digitally transform itself by adopting SD-WAN solutions; to simplify the manner in which Lancet Laboratories configures its branches within the WAN; to improve the organisation’s performance; and to implement a cost-effective solution.

“The complexity of our network grew to a point where it  caused us to fail rather than give us the insight and resilience we desired,” says John Sole, IT director at Lancet Laboratories. “SD-WAN has been on the horizon for us for quite a number of years, but we never got to a point to consider it a priority, until about 18 months ago and we haven’t looked back.

“Fundamentally, our network is very complex and we tend to operate on the basis of self-managed WAN, but number one for us was resilience. In many cases, we have laboratories that need to operate 24/7/365, and we don’t work with a single vendor.”

Over the years, Lancet Laboratories have learnt to play things safe and the organisation’s policy has always been that they would use a multi-vendor strategy for telecommunications and self-manage.

“Before we committed to partnering with Redvine and VeloCloud SD-WAN by Dell and VMware , we looked at all providers for the product sets we were looking for. Unfortunately, some of them don’t understand that customers often want to be masters of their own destiny, in the sense that we own and manage the infrastructure, as opposed to outsourcing it to somebody else. So the use of equipment tied to physical links makes it impossible for you to manoeuvre.

“When you start talking to some of the big players, and you say you need 24/7 support with a really tight SLA, it becomes prohibitively expensive. So for us, the key issue was stability when outages took place on a particular vendor system.”

John Sole, IT Director, Lancet Laboratories


The initial roll out is to equip 120 branch laboratories with VeloCloud, to give us resilience that we had never experienced previously, and the simplicity of the installation was a major factor for us,” says Sole. “We can configure the units for the points of presence, obviously making sure that the infrastructure and the branch labs are appropriately set up, and we’re ready to roll. So far, in a matter of 10 days, we rolled out eight sites.”

With regard to Covid, life was a little bit easier from a network stability point of view for Lancet Laboratories. “Many companies put projects on hold, so there wasn’t this massive amount of change taking place in the general telecommunication market,” says Sole. “We had to put people on to short time and manage Covid protocols in terms of emergency services getting people to site to ensure that we could actually operate and provide the services required to each of the operational laboratories. But there were no severe operational issues, because Redvine set us up properly and networks were stable.

“The biggest challenge is just keeping everything in line to ensure that when a site is ready to roll, we are ready to move with it,” he continues.

“Resilience of the wide area network infrastructure is absolutely crucial to us. And the only way we can achieve this really easily is with SD-WAN-type infrastructure. It gives us resilience by being able to run multiple service providers in parallel and utilise internet connectivity, as opposed to using dedicated high-end expensive bandwidth options from the various service providers.

“Essentially, we as Lancet Laboratories, chose the right company to partner with and look forward to partnering with Redvine from here on out,” he concludes.

Original article published in Brainstorm magazine, April 2021