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Posted on: July 18, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

In a crowded and sometimes confusing SD-WAN market, it’s easy for partners and end-users to get lost in the mix. Every SD-WAN vendor has its strengths and unique value. But all the hyperbole and marketing terminology makes it hard to choose the right SD-WAN for your needs.

We want to try something different…

That’s why we partnered with WatchGuard for a 60-minute webinar titled SD-WAN: One Size Doesn’t Fit All. In this presentation Bigleaf’s Co-founder, Jeff Burchett, and WatchGuard VP of Product Management, Brendan Patterson, walked through the most common use cases for SD-WAN and how to choose the right solution for each of them. They covered:

  • What SD-WAN technology is and why it matters
  • How SD-WAN is used in example use cases
  • Which SD-WAN scenarios you need to consider before deploying
  • How to make SD-WAN work for your business needs

As an industry-leading security vendor, Bigleaf has partnered with WatchGuard as part of its WatchGuardONE program. But, WatchGuard also offers its own SD-WAN functionality. That dynamic of coopetition presented a unique opportunity to drop the hype and simply present you with two completely different approaches to SD-WAN—each with its own use cases and benefits.

You can watch the full recording at any time. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to learn more about Bigleaf and/or WatchGuard’s approach to SD-WAN, contact us today.

Posted on: July 17, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

by JP González

Cloud-based and mobile apps put traditional networks to the test by making last-mile connectivity a mission-critical component. And, with 83% of enterprise workloads expected to run in the cloud by next year1, the need for a network that can properly support a fluctuating mix of bandwidth-intensive applications all but guarantees SD‑WAN is here to stay.

Much has been said about the complexity sometimes associated with a successful SD‑WAN deployment. However, we hear less talk about another critical factor in maintaining a successfully deployed solution—namely, visibility.

Unlike their traditional counterparts, modern networks are not intended to be static. The days of “set it and forget it” are fast becoming a distant memory. The mission‑critical modern network calls for real-time network path conditioning and continuous policy evaluation to ensure an optimal application experience. Network and application performance can vary depending on the number of applications running, sites connected, service providers in place and individual user behaviors. Visibility can help monitor link reliability, application performance and user demands for the aggregate business or in varying granularity levels—crucial to understanding the operational impact of the SD-WAN.

The digital experience of SD-WAN

This is where the SD-WAN digital experience comes into play. When working with service providers, there is a patchwork of available tools and interfaces for monitoring, configuration, and analytics. Monitoring and configuration control are essential to the long-term success of the SD-WAN. Therefore, it’s important to consider whether the SD-WAN you deploy gives your IT department the tools it needs to effectively manage the network or whether it becomes an administrative burden with negative implications on your IT workload, security, end-user, and customer experience.

When considering an SD-WAN solution Windstream Enterprise recommends you ask some key questions about the digital management and analytics capabilities available.

Monitoring visibility

  • Can you create a customized dashboard to view what’s important to you?
  • Does it show how much bandwidth your apps consume by location and device?
  • Can you monitor the performance of every access connection?
  • Can you create customized reports to view the history of bandwidth usage for troubleshooting and upgrade planning?
  • Do you have visibility from your mobile devices?

Configuration control

  • Is it secured by multi-factor authentication?
  • Do you have admin rights to make modifications to your settings on your own via any desktop or mobile device?
  • Can you rate limit or block unauthorized apps?
  • Can you modify business rules to prioritize apps?
  • Can you modify security policies by location, group or end-user?
  • Can you quickly implement configuration changes to all locations?

Posted on: June 26, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

 

By: Jorge Rodriguez

 

Telecom carriers traditionally delivered the basic functionality of communication and connectivity – voice, data and network capacity. The telco of old deployed teams of technicians to manage a physical infrastructure of cables, boxes and switches. Service provisioning and maintenance were labor-intensive and time-consuming. Service options were one-size-fits-all.

Today, the rapid growth of intelligent devices, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) is redefining the marketplace. More specifically, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) creates an opportunity for the “digital telco” to assume a strategic role as a provider of solutions to critical business issues.

With SDN-enabled configurability, static telecom infrastructure evolves into a flexible platform of easy access, seamless connectivity and autonomic management. Service provisioning is becoming on-demand and real-time. Automated monitoring and processing are driving predictive modeling and proactive maintenance. These trends are taking operational performance to new levels of efficiency and quality.

Equally important, SDN gives telcos clear visibility into the data flowing through the communications ecosystem – at the architecture, warehouse and packet levels. This visibility in turn creates an opportunity to gain critical insight into customers. Using that insight, telcos can deliver highly personalized services segmented by geography, industry and demographic. Moreover, they can anticipate and deliver services before a customer requests them.

Example: Let’s say that a telco positions a beacon on a utility pole in a block in Greenwich Village. The beacon continually collects data on foot traffic on the block in general, as well as traffic in and out of different retail establishments at different times of day and days of the week. Analyzing that data can give the telco powerful insight into how to help different businesses. At a basic level, it enables appropriately targeted offers of Wi-Fi, Point of Sale (POS) and security services. At a more hyper-personalized level, it can mean offering digital signage to help a global fashion retailer promote a spring fashion line (focusing on items likely to appeal to the particular consumer of the area). Or, sending targeted text alerts on behalf of a gastro-pub to regular customers promoting happy hour specials during off-peak hours.

Another characteristic of the digital telco is the ability to blur physical boundaries and extend the communications and analytics infrastructure. Smart sensors at the edge of business activity are the “tip of the spear” of the Internet of Things (IoT). These intelligent devices can integrate with machine learning-enabled data analytics and real-time communications to drive transformation. Top-of-mind examples include self-driving cars and self-repairing jet engines. But equally impactful possibilities involve more mundane applications. For example, how transportation companies monitor their vehicles, how farmers manage livestock and how restaurants ensure the reliability of their freezers and refrigerators.

The potential competitive advantage of the digital telco lies in its connectivity expertise. Telcos are ideally positioned to manage the connection between the data-collecting devices at the edge of business activity to the analytical platforms within the back office. By overseeing that conduit, the digital telco can evolve from commodity provider to strategic partner.

Seizing the opportunity requires applying the latest edge and analytical innovations, while fully leveraging existing transport and switching technology. At the same time, we need to develop the business models that unleash the ability of SDN to drive predictive, real-time and insight-based actions. By leveraging our technology and business legacy, we can assume a leadership role in driving truly connected digital enablement.

Posted on: June 19, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

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Matrix Networks got its start in 1984 supporting and installing PBX phone systems. Over the years, the company’s embrace of Internet technologies and cloud computing solutions has helped its customers navigate a constantly evolving network landscape.

Matrix Networks’ success is the result of having a principled approach to the cloud-ready network solutions it offers to customers. It’s a proven formula developed over three decades of experience. Matrix Networks has seen a lot of success as a Bigleaf Networks partner and remains one of the top partners in the Pacific Northwest.

We sat down with Matrix Networks president, Kyle Holmes, to learn more about the company’s formula for success when moving their customers to the cloud.

As companies shift their businesses to the cloud, what are some of the things you’re seeing?

A lot of people don’t realize they are already in the cloud. In fact, many of them are farther along on their cloud journeys than they think they are. That’s because every business application is moving to the cloud. Every application on a desktop has a web version today. That has resulted in an increase in IT sprawl, as the cloud makes it easy for individual departments to make their own buying decisions.

Is there a secret formula you’ve found for building a cloud-ready network?

There’s a right way to build a cloud-ready network. We call it Matrix Connectivity as a Service (MCaaS). Through a combination of purposeful network design, disparate circuit sourcing, and SD-WAN optimization we’re able to intelligently manage a customer’s Internet bandwidth. From carrier agnostic circuit sourcing to built-in company-wide redundancy, 24/7 support and monitoring, and consolidated billing, MCaaS has simplified the way our clients experience connectivity, allowing them to focus on what matters: their business.

We’ve had a lot of success because we’re principled about our approach to what it takes to build a cloud-ready network. Customers want something easy that just works and they want one partner for their connectivity strategy. It’s why our MCaaS is so popular. It’s what our customers want because it’s everything they need in one package with one bill.

What role does SD-WAN play in the solutions you deliver to clients?

In many client engagements, we’re seeing SD-WAN displace existing MPLS networks because SD-WAN delivers better reliability, more speed and cloud access. And beyond the technical benefits, SD-WAN makes it easy for company IT managers to migrate their applications on private networks to the cloud, giving their own customers — the users — better speed, reliability and access flexibility. It’s always good to remember there’s usually a human at the other end of your solution and anything you can do to make their life easier is a good thing.

Are companies you work with aware of SD-WAN or is this something you introduce to them?

A couple of years ago, if you mentioned SD-WAN to someone it would be the first time they had ever heard of it. Today, everyone’s heard of it, but nobody understands it. That’s largely due to the fact that there’s a lot of market confusion around the term where people think they’ve got what they need and they really don’t.

SD-WAN is a broad term that means different things to different people. In our case, customers don’t come looking for SD-WAN, but we’re able to show them why they need it.

Your approach to SD-WAN is different than a lot of companies in the market.

For us, SD-WAN takes on two plays: One, we took a hard stand to require SD-WAN in every UCaaS solution we sell. That’s non-negotiable for us. Because deploying UCaaS without SD-WAN is like driving a car without a seatbelt.

The other is as an MPLS displacement where companies are migrating applications to the cloud from a private network and realize they suddenly have different security and reliability requirements.

What makes Bigleaf different?

There are three network connectivity types: site to site, cloud-based and hybrid SD-WAN. Companies can live off a single dumb pipe and hope nothing goes wrong. But we all know that networks inevitably go down. Or they can create a better experience using SD-WAN.

Bigleaf falls right in that cloud SD-WAN sweet spot. There aren’t many that do, fewer that do it well and none that were built specifically for the cloud like Bigleaf.

To put it bluntly, Bigleaf is an upgrade to the Internet. Bigleaf allows companies to migrate to the cloud with minimal changes to their network or existing firewall infrastructure. It’s simple and it works. And that’s why we’ve made it a mandatory part of our offering and also why it sells so well.

What advice would you give to others?

It’s easy to fall prey to the marketing around the cloud and SD-WAN. You need to find a partner who has sifted through the sand for you. When you find that partner, pay attention to the dashboard experience they offer. Visibility is important.

And remember, carrier networks go down. Don’t be dependent on just one. When Centurylink went down last year, 80 percent of our clients were on their network. None of them called us. And a big reason they didn’t was because they had Bigleaf as part of the solution we built for them.

Posted on: By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Contributed By: Jody Hagemann – Senior Director, SD-WAN Product Management at Comcast Business

With so many SD-WAN products and vendors in the market, misinformation is rampant. Getting to the facts will help your software-defined journey succeed.

If you’re an IT leader considering software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), you may have a great opportunity this year to hear directly from some of your peers who’ve recently adopted it. Several of these IT managers are generously sharing their experiences, lessons learned and helpful advice by speaking at various conferences around the U.S.

These sessions are valuable opportunities to hear some of the pros and cons of different products and vendors, suggestions on making your transition smooth and all-too-common pitfalls to avoid. With some 60 competing SD-WAN vendors and products, the market is crowded, with a wide range of players, from pure over-the-top providers to major carriers. Hearing directly from another corporate IT manager who’s been through the evaluation, selection and installation process within the past year or two is a tremendous benefit.

As an SD-WAN product manager, it has been more than enlightening sitting in on these sessions and interacting with the presenters. Recently, a speaker made the provocative statement that “carriers really aren’t experts on SD-WAN.”

With more than 20 years of experience in the telecom industry, specifically in the VPN space and a lot of experience in new product and feature launches, I have a very different perspective. The lifeblood of a carrier is the network, and no customer network can succeed without vast software and engineering expertise to back it. As product managers at network carriers, we are viewed as the conductors of a finely tuned orchestra. That orchestra must include expertise in software-defined networking (SDN) as well as carrier infrastructure so the music (aka customer network) is harmonized perfectly.

While I can’t speak for all carriers, I can definitively point to Comcast’s in-depth expertise in the SDN space. Chances are you’re familiar with our Xfinity X1 service that provides entertainment, internet, voice, apps and more to many thousands of residential and business customers in the U.S. X1 is a virtualized platform that has been developed in Comcast Labs, the technology and innovation arm of the company, over many years.

We applied the same lessons learned in developing the X1 platform to building our Comcast Business ActiveCoreSM SDN platform that powers our SD-WAN and other products to come. It’s built to support other virtualized services, such as routing and firewalls, over the top of Comcast‘s or any other US providers’ network. ActiveCore is built to scale just like Xfinity X1 to support thousands of customers. We could not be in a better position to be a long-term networking partner that builds business solutions for customers.

I encourage anyone – wherever you are on your SD-WAN journey – to keep an open mind and ask the tough questions that will lead to an understanding that helps you make the right decision for your software-defined future.

  • Ask the carrier for details on their SDN/SD-WAN experience; how they developed or acquired their service; what resources they have to support it
  • Ask about any OTT provider’s network underlay and how they manage and support it
  • Ask whether the service you’re considering meets highly available criteria, including multiple underlying connections from different carriers
  • Understand how expedient your potential vendor’s replacement is for equipment failures
  • And be sure to know the last-mile connection, because your new WAN can be only as good as the last mile that connects it to your users

These are exciting times for all of us in the networking world. The opportunities that SD-WAN offers to exponentially increase your bandwidth, speed innovation and time to market activities is powerful. Simultaneously being able to hold down the total cost of ownership lets you drive your network, not the other way around. Don’t let the misleading myths out there steer you in the wrong direction.

Posted on: June 10, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

The WAN is evolving and SD-WAN is all the rage. It promises to remove the constraints of legacy connectivity technologies, namely MPLS, and create a flexible, resilient, and secure network.

MPLS is a privately managed backbone with built-in Quality of Service (QoS). MPLS services deliver predictability — whatever contention exists for its backbone is managed by the MPLS provider.

Packet loss and latency statistics are more consistent and much lower than those of the public Internet. And to back up that point, MPLS services come with guarantees of availability (99.99% per year uptime), packet loss (.1% is typical), and latency on a route-by-route basis.

Just as important, MPLS services are mature services built for the enterprise. Aside from the SLAs, they come with integrated invoicing, end-to-end delivery, and management.

The Pitfalls of MPLS

But there’s a price for this kind of dedicated infrastructure. Committing to a dedicated capacity, maximum latency, and maximum time to repair makes MPLS services very expensive. As a result, capacity is constrained by available budgets and can be easily overwhelmed by the needs of the business.

MPLS services are also notorious for their lack of agility. Site deployments involve a slow and rigid process that can take weeks and sometimes months to complete. Change management is also a hassle, requiring careful coordination with the carrier to ensure service levels are met.

Addressing the challenges of MPLS

SD-WAN is looking to address the challenges of MPLS like cost, capacity, rigidity, and manageability.

The SD-WAN edge router can dynamically route traffic over multiple data services (MPLS, cable, xDSL, 4G/LTE) based on the type of traffic and the quality of the underlying service. SD-WAN edge solutions let organizations boost capacity available for production by adding inexpensive data services to an existing MPLS-based network.

In that context, SD-WAN can reduce the growth of MPLS spend. SD-WAN automates application traffic routing based on real-time monitoring of changing conditions, which means less error-prone manual configuration changes through command line interfaces.

Some SD-WAN solutions offer zero-touch provisioning, which allows the edge to configure its connection to the WAN using the available mix of services at each location. This means a site can be brought online quickly with a single or dual Internet service or even 4G/LTE. And, MPLS can be incorporated seamlessly when it becomes available at a later point.

SD-WANs aren’t perfect

But SD-WAN edge architectures have several gaps. SD-WAN edge routers must rely on a predictable service, like MPLS, to carry latency-sensitive traffic. The router can move traffic to an alternate service if MPLS is unavailable, but this is not a recommended approach. SD-WAN routers still need MPLS and have a limited impact on overall networking spend.

Also, the introduction of Internet breakouts increases the risk of Internet-borne threats. SD-WAN routers do not address these new security requirements. Organizations need to extend their security architectures to support SD-WAN projects using edge firewalls or cloud security services.  This only adds to the costs and complexity of an SD-WAN deployment.

Finally, SD-WAN routers are not optimized for cloud resources and mobile users. Since they were built to solve a branch office problem, SD-WAN vendors had to stretch their architectures to the cloud as an afterthought. This involves complicated route configurations and time-consuming deployments of SD-WAN routers near or at the cloud providers.

SaaS routing intelligence comes at the cost of deploying many SD-WAN routers near SaaS data centers in order to build a fabric with sufficient density to provide any real optimization benefits. Mobile users are simply out of scope for edge SD-WAN deployments and can’t benefit from the new network capabilities introduced by SD-WAN.

What is the solution?

Cato Networks delivers on the core promise of SD-WAN while extending it to address these key gaps. The Cato Cloud includes advanced SD-WAN edge capabilities including multi-transport support, last mile optimization, and policy-based routing.

The SLA-backed global backbone of points of presence (PoPs) at the core of the Cato Cloud service forms an affordable MPLS alternative and has the following benefits:

  • An enterprise-grade network security stack, built into the backbone, extends security everywhere without the need to deploy additional security products.
  • An agentless deployment model allows Cato to connect cloud resources as easily as physical locations, from the nearest PoP to the cloud provider.
  • Mobile users benefit from the power of the Cato Cloud using Cato’s mobile client.

With Cato’s tunnel overlay architecture connecting all resources to the service in the same way, organizations gain single-policy control and holistic visibility across their network — physical locations, cloud resources, and mobile users.

Posted on: May 14, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By Terry Traina, SVP of Engineering at Masergy

As the first step in the SD-WAN education process, channel partners and IT consultants must lead buyers in understanding the market, how solutions differ, and which aspects truly maximize results.

The SD-WAN market is saturated by large providers and small startups, pure SD-WAN equipment manufacturers, and service providers who essentially just resell hardware. With few agile, mid-sized players who deliver a fully-managed service, buyers lack balanced offerings with both proven technologies and superior customer experiences. This gap leaves many CIOs choosing between the service they deserve or the technology they need.

There is a great opportunity for channel partners to act as true consultants, understand the enterprise business needs, and work with providers who can design an agile, secure, and cost-effective Managed SD-WAN solution that optimizes application performance, location, and user needs.

The Technology Differentiation

Comparing solutions requires examination into the underlying infrastructure as well as service quality, agility, and reliability.

  • Built-In Security: Look for solutions with a secure edge architecture where the SD-WAN edge device has built-in security features including next-generation firewalls with unified threat management.

  • Network Architecture and Design Principles: Choose a provider whose entire “backbone” is software-defined. With the entire solution software-defined, virtually every function is programmable for more responsiveness and automation. SD-WAN solutions that are truly embedded and integrated into a software-defined network fabric will deliver reliability and application quality.

  • Transport-Agnostic: Recommend solutions that are truly transport agnostic and can mix private, public, and wireless connectivity to customize access based on the needs of each application, location, and user.

  • SLAs for Cloud Service Interconnections: Inquire about end-to-end SLAs. Many providers offer direct connectivity to cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and others. But not all of them offer SLAs with that service, which is key for a cloud-first strategy. Cloud SLAs ensure reliable data transport right up until the moment the traffic is handed off to the cloud service, creating a globally consistent experience.

  • Real-time Application Analytics and Controls: Ensure that key business insights including security and application performance metrics are available in real-time and in one integrated dashboard. Due to multiple acquisitions and underlying legacy architectures, most SD-WAN providers are unable to deliver this critical functionality that businesses need to optimize their network.

The Key Customer Experience Questions

Services included with SD-WAN vary wildly among providers, so lead the buyer in understanding:

  • Configuration: Who will be responsible for configuration (before zero-touch devices are shipped)?

  • Implementation: Will the provider have dedicated project management resources to ensure on-time delivery and agile adds and moves?

  • Service Monitoring: Will they provide proactive network and security monitoring 24/7?

  • Maintenance and Security: Who will manage the equipment after deployment and ensure devices/firewalls are updated/monitored from a security standpoint?

  • Customer Experience Metrics: What is their Net Promoter Score and do they have a large referenceable customer base?

Masergy Managed SD-WAN and Business Use Cases

With the integration between SD-WAN and a globally ubiquitous software-defined platform, built-in security and advanced routing features, and real-time analytics, CIOs leverage Masergy SD-WAN to:

  • Support a multi-cloud enterprise that can aggressively migrate applications and services to multiple cloud environments

  • Enhance network performance with global availability, reliability improvements, and competitive IT agility

  • Optimize resource efficiency and cost savings, decreasing the complexity of WAN management through automation and advanced analytics tools

Posted on: March 18, 2019 By: CNSG Marketing

By: Dave Greenfield of Cato Networks

MPLS has been a popular choice for enterprise networks for many years. Despite the relatively high costs, MPLS can deliver SLA-backed performance required for today’s applications. Although it has almost legendary status, every legend develops myths. Let’s take a look at five myths about MPLS:

Myth 1: MPLS Is Necessary For Enterprises That Demand High Availability

networks are known for high uptime, but it’s not the only option when high availability is required. SD-WAN is a flexible solution that integrates low-cost Internet transports into a virtual WAN connection. Utilizing multiple links and additional features such as load balancing, and real-time monitoring of circuit health and performance, SD-WAN can achieve the required high availability today’s enterprises demand. Achieving high availability by having more than one circuit is great, but SD-WAN can also mix circuit types, such as fiber and 4G, to guarantee physical-layer redundancy.

Myth 2: The Entire Network Needs To Be Built With MPLS

Businesses have embraced cloud applications for ease of access and lower costs. But these applications live outside the corporate network and the MPLS network doesn’t connect to the cloud. For companies who are heavily invested in their current MPLS infrastructure can take a hybrid approach and add SD-WAN to provide improved access to the cloud. Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at IDC, notes, “SD-WAN will be particularly relevant for enterprises that have adopted or are adopting hybrid cloud and especially those that are availing themselves of SaaS application services.”

Another scenario for MPLS augmentation with SD-WAN is opening a new office or moving to a new location. Provisioning new MPLS circuits is notoriously slow and SD-WAN can be used in situations where agility is required. This also holds true if cost is an issue as SD-WAN can be less expensive to deploy.

Myth 3: MPLS Is Secure

On it’s own, MPLS doesn’t employ security protocols. The security is based on the VLAN implementation; MPLS is technically a shared medium with customer traffic marked to be in its own VLAN. They are not vulnerable to the kinds of attacks seen on the Internet, since hackers can’t get to them, which is why they’re perceived as being secure. However, because traffic is sent in the clear, they are vulnerable to wiretapping. Many MPLS customers today add VPN encryption to secure the network. MPLS also does not prevent malware from propagating between MPLS-connected sites. Most often, MPLS configurations backhaul traffic to a datacenter and rely on the firewall at the datacenter to provide security. Optionally, some SD-WAN providers offer solutions with converged security using a single-pane-of-glass with event correlation of network and security traffic.

Myth 4: MPLS Is The Only Networking Option For Enterprises In China

With the recent crackdown on VPN connections in China, many believe MPLS is now the only way to go. In reality, VPN is still an option but the connection must be officially registered with the Chinese government. MPLS is an alternative, but provisioning a circuit in China can take months, maybe even years to complete.

SD-WAN providers that are approved and registered with the Chinese government can provide connectivity to China without the cost and lengthy provisioning process of MPLS. SD-WAN connectivity also means the connection will not be blocked by “The Great Firewall of China”, which is notorious for creating packet loss and latency issues.

Myth 5: MPLS Is The Only Option For Global Networks

SD-WAN technology has gone from an emerging technology to mainstream in 2018. According to research firm IDC, SD-WAN revenues will reach $2.3 billion in 2018 and more than $8 billion by 2021. But some see SD-WAN as no more than a regional solution because using public Internet connections internationally introduces unpredictable performance.

However, this is not the case for SD-WAN providers that have a global private backbone to ensure traffic is optimized and securely delivered around the globe. SD-WAN also holds an advantage over MPLS for global users accessing cloud resources. With only an MPLS backbone, users backhaul to the enterprise HQ then out to the cloud incurring long delays, or they access cloud resources over the public Internet incurring higher the cost of additional security infrastructure. With a global SD-WAN infrastructure, users from anywhere in the world can access cloud applications and other corporate resources from across the global backbone and expect high-performance connectivity.

The WAN, The Myth, The Legend

MPLS has earned and is deserving of its legendary reputation for reliability and performance. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of running a business, it’s important to rely on the facts and not merely the myths of any solution. SD-WAN has become a viable option for enterprise networks and can complement an existing MPLS network to overcome obstacles such as cost, agility, availability, and cloud access. Learn more about WAN, MPLS, and SD-WAN technologies at Cato Networks blog.

Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield

Dave is a veteran of IT industry. He’s spent more than 20 years as an award-winning journalist and independent technology consultant. Today, he serves as a secure networking evangelist for Cato Networks.

Posted on: September 17, 2018 By: CNSG Marketing

If you haven’t heard already – CNSG’s The Converged Effect program works to dive deep into the industry-specific challenges our customers face with procuring technology in today’s times. Each month, our VP of Strategy Devin Williams focuses on a particular industry, to deliver industry-specific tools and resources designed to help you with each phase of the sales cycle. Looking to watch the full Construction and Architecture TCE webinar? We’ve got you covered – click here. Let’s take a minute to define the construction industry.

 

What is the Construction Industry?

 

  1. Buildings: The Building construction subset is usually further divided into residential and commercial.
  2. Infrastructure: Infrastructure is often called  heavy civil or heavy engineering that includes large public works, dams, bridges, highways, railways, water or wastewater and utility distribution.
  3. Industrial: Industrial construction includes refineries, process chemical, power generation, mills and manufacturing plants.

 

Macro-Level Construction Industry Trends

 

  • Optimistic outlook for 2018: healthy predicted growth over the next 5 years, but the looming and ongoing trade war has made executives much more cautious than they were just 6 months ago
  • Lack of skilled labor
  • Overall project costs are rising across the industry
  • According to according to Research and Markets, 43% of the industry is planning to increase IT investment in 2018-2019. (In part because executives, even at small firms, are starting to look to technology to solve their skill and labor shortages)
  • To top it off, material costs are rising, even before tariff wars began

 

Construction Industry Tech Trends

 

  • Due to a lot of remote workers and temporary locations, the industry is spending on secure, agile and fast connectivity to support businesses
  • MPLS is getting replaced at a higher than average clip in construction, in part due to the need for agile connectivity. Cost pressure along with SD-WAN’s splash into the market are also drivers for MPLS replacement in construction beyond just business need.
  • Everything is mobile in today’s construction firm; employees, equipment, locations, devices, etc. and in concert with this trend we are seeing more and more firms adopt mobile applications for productivity, safety, operations, building modeling, etc.
  • Firms are looking to data and IoT solutions to reduce operating expenses and bolster margins, especially with so many high cost pieces of equipment
  • There’s growth of connected job sites and wearable technology, that also integrates to construction management software to help monitor and analyze the job site
  • Cloud and HW refresh occurring heavily in the space as companies look to go mobile, support technology driven initiatives

 

Challenge #1: Remote Everything

 

  • Quickly and securely connecting work sites, sometimes rural and short term
  • Securing and monitoring a network with explosive device growth
  • Ensuring proper network capacity and architecture to support remote workers who have large, secured files and mission critical applications they need to access
  • Ensuring proper communication and collaboration between full time, freelance, office and remote employees

 

Solutions for Remote Everything

 

Green Cloud: virtual desktop for those remote and freelance workers and DR to ensure continuity of this remote architecture

Flexential: delivers cloud and compute resources as well as professional services and compliant environments, purpose built to support organizations with remote and edge critical resources

Momentum: they have a purpose built UcaaS and collab solution for the construction industry with use cases specific for your construction clients and their remote workforce needs pre built into the platform

CenturyLink: delivers a cloud based UTM solution so no matter where your people are, their traffic can be protected and secured.  very handy for workers who aren’t in the office

Broad Sky Networks: fleet management and remote connectivity solutions that align perfectly to the construction company needs around remote everything and agile connectivity demands

Comm-Core: as a service physical monitoring and security that can be easily moved from location to location as sites turn up and down.  Helps reduce theft and insurance costs besides peace of mind and site control for management

MetTel: who can deliver unique solutions for remote workplaces; managed wifi, mutli-carrier mobile solutions, IoT platform, fleet management and a really cool mobile SD-WAN kit for quick turn up needs.

 

Challenge #2: Rising Costs

 

  • Trade wars and tariffs make the entire market difficult to predict
  • The void in labor job supply has caused a 4.5% rise in labor cost in the past 2 years alone
  • Key building materials from fencing and forklifts, to raw materials like cement and aluminum had seen huge YoY price jumps BEFORE the tariffs

Companies are looking to new technologies to help combat these rising costs such as:

  • AI/Big Data with IoT
  • Robotics/Automation
  • Cloud Technology
  • BIM (Building Information Modeling)
  • 3D Printing
  • Collaboration

 

Solutions for Rising Costs

 

MetTel again, is a natural fit for numerous use cases which we see in construction. For rising costs, they can provide fleet tracking solutions with consistent savings and sub 12 month ROI.  Or TEM for mobile while consolidating plans all with MDM included

Granite: great play on aggregation + SD-WAN to find awesome connectivity savings while driving better network performance and agility

BCN: your aggregation and cost consolidation play for access and network

CATO: get connectivity, plus sd-wan, plus security at a lower cost than MPLS, which as we mentioned is being replaced left and right in construction

Expedient: for cloud and refresh, has hybrid offerings to right size between cloud and colo for your customers and free cost analysis tools so your customers can forecast savings before they even sign the deal

A new one to the portfolio, Centrics IT: they can deliver 3rd party maintenance contracts at a fraction of the cost of existing maintenance, especially legacy or end of support tech.

And finally, another new addition to the portfolio, Flockgen: they provide waste, energy and utility contract consolidation and replacement.  Similar to the CentricsIT play for replacing maintenance contracts, you can help you customers find savings with those waste, energy and utility providers by simply getting a hold of their current contracts and providing them to Flockgen for analysis.

 

Challenge #3: Lack of IT Resources

 

  • 22% of construction firms task IT activities to non-IT employees
  • Cloud adoption in construction is the highest in any vertical; 5% higher than the next vertical
  • 58% of SMB construction firms rely on mobile devices and apps in the field
  • 1/3rd of construction firms have a mobile strategy in place, while 1/3rd have NO mobile platform at all
  • The industry is experiencing a collision of increased technology investment and reliance, with an understaffed and legacy IT environment.

Some common failings related to this climate:

  • Introducing new and perpetuating old Security risks
  • Failing to meet business agility demands
  • Compromising service performance
  • Reduce or eliminate technology ROI

 

Solutions for Lack of IT Resources

 

There are so many different suppliers in the CNSG portfolio that can help with customers who are understaffed in IT. Some generic examples include:

  • Hosted communications and call center technologies
  • Cloud or managed anything from office 365 and managed workstations to handing off management of entire applications or systems
  • SD-WAN to simplify or completely outsource network management

 

Some specific vendors:

CenturyLink: Security aaS perfect for remote and agile networks but also access and network, cloud, collab technologies in their portfolio, all available as a managed service

MetTel: A great fit for the industry, specifically for lack of IT resources, talk about managed wifi with analytics to deliver connectivity AND visibility, or a complete mobile platform with MDM included

Flexential: provides excellent managed services and professional services and can do so without a reliance on a specific vendor, meaning they can be flexible for your customers’ needs and I love their focus as a company on the edge

CentricsIT: who I brought up previously, their smart hands as a service offering is perfect for customers who have specific one-time project needs like a scramble site issue fix, as well as regular recurring needs that aren’t always easy to forecast such as site turn ups.  remember larger firms can have dozens to hundreds of sites live at any time, all of which temporary and on their own timeline.

TPx: a one stop shop for managed everything; network, security, SD-WAN, cloud, office, etc.

 

 

Be sure to join us on October 3rd, 2pm eastern, for our review of the manufacturing industry on the next Converged Effect Industry Webinar. Get the presentation for this webinar and other great resources on the CNSG Partner Resource Center.

Posted on: August 28, 2018 By: CNSG Marketing

Static IP & SD-WAN / Why it’s a Critical Consideration is brought to you by BCN Telecom.

In today’s crowded landscape of SD-WAN solutions, sourcing the best option for your customers can be daunting. As always, asking the right questions, understanding the customer’s business environment and the outcomes they desire are the best place to start.  In your discovery process you may not have considered the importance of your customer’s need to support Static IP requirements within the SD-WAN environment. In fact, it is a critical need for many customers and you’ll want to ensure that the SD-WAN solution you recommend is able to offer that support.

 

Ricardo Villa, BCN Director of IT & Managed Services explores it in  more detail.

Why is full support for Static IP requirements so critical in an SD-WAN solution?

RV: Without full support for Static IPs, the SD-WAN solution becomes effectively a one-way session solution.  Without Static IP support, your customer can only benefit from the full suite of SD-WAN features on outbound-sessions.

What is the downside of an SD-WAN solution that doesn’t support Static IP requirements?

RV: Without Static IP support, there is no way to perform inbound sessions over the SD-WAN overlay.  If an SD-WAN solution doesn’t offer Static IP support, it in essence limits the possible features and services that your customer can eventually run over the SD-WAN.

How does support for Static IP in the SD-WAN overlay impact the need for your customer to re-number Static IP addresses?

RV: The availability of Static-IP at the SD-WAN level will eliminate the hassle that your customers can face in changing Static IP addresses when there is a change in the underlying access provider. When the Static IP is at the SD-WAN overlay level they won’t be faced with re-numbering Static IPs.  Even if your customer physically moves to a new location, they will still be able to preserve their Static IPs via the SD-WAN overlay.

What specific customer environments/situations are successfully addressed with Static IP support?

RV: Static IP support enables a customer to host services from their location within the SD-WAN environment.  For example, they may have an IP PBX, security camera, web server, email server, VPN concentrator, etc.  Let’s take the case of a customer with an IP PBX system. If the SD-WAN solution is able to utilize the Static IP on their IP PBX, remote office workers will be able to connect their phones via the SD-WAN overlay, thus receiving the full benefits of SD-WAN.  Without that Static IP support the remote worker has to connect to the IP PBX using one of the access circuit IPs. In doing so they are effectively bypassing the SD-WAN and all its inherent features completely.

How does the BCN SD-WAN solution support Static IP requirements within the SD-WAN environment?

RV: BCN is unique, in that our SD-WAN solution enables Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) support on the SD-WAN overlay and assigns Public Static IP addressing space to it.  In doing so, it enables the BCN SD-WAN solution to accommodate the types of customer requirements described above, making the move to SD-WAN technology one that will have positive impact on their entire environment.

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