CallTower, a hosted unified communications provider, partnered with the software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) vendor Bigleaf Networks to both extend its applications to its enterprise customers with Bigleaf’s SD-WAN and internally deploy the service to connect its branches.
CallTower provides its enterprise customers with cloud-based IP voice services — including a Microsoft Skype for business platform, a Cisco private branch exchange (PBX) platform, as well as enterprise-grade and Skype-based contact center platforms, conferencing and collaboration services, and productivity tools. And now, CallTower will offer Bigleaf’s SD-WAN technology.
Bigleaf has its own cloud-access network that routes traffic over the public Internet. The company identifies as a service provider because its cloud network provides all of the core services a provider would have such as load balancing, quality-of-service, and monitoring of traffic.
According to CallTower’s Chief Product Officer Shaun Chambers, offering Bigleaf’s SD-WAN serves as a way to improve its customers’ connection and bandwidth, implement intelligent load-balancing, and introduce an IP failover capability. It also gives them network visibility and intelligence on circuit latency, packet loss, jitter, and throughput, and overall enhances the services being offered to its customers.
The SD-WAN is being offered as a highly-recommended, though not required, add-on service. The CallTower network is connected to the Bigleaf backbone, so end-users that access CallTower’s hosted applications will hit the closest Bigleaf point of presence (PoP) and be routed directly into CallTower.
Chambers said that as more customers connect to CallTower’s services over the public Internet, they lost control and visibility over call quality.
“So one of the major driving factors was to be able to implement an SD-WAN solution so that we could improve the end user and customer experience for real-time communications on our platform,” said Chambers. “We ideally don’t want them to know that there’s an issue with one of their circuits. We want it to automatically, through replication or failover, be able to keep those sessions up without the customer even noticing an issue.”
For Internal Use
CallTower has three domestic data centers in California, Utah, and Arizona, as well as corporate offices in Salt Lake City and Boston. CallTower deployed Bigleaf’s SD-WAN at its two corporate offices in order to connect the branches and data centers.
While CallTower is offering the SD-WAN solution to its customers, “We’re using it the same way. We use the services that we sell,” said CallTower’s Chief Product Officer Shaun Chambers. “We connect our services the same exact way that our customers do, so we have corporate offices and remote offices, and they’re all connected back to our data centers as well.”
In doing so, its connections via broadband at its remote offices have seen “a tremendous increase in the quality of service in the user experience.” said Chambers. “So the digitized voice, the dropped calls, and other things that come from issues of the Internet have been significantly reduced.”
Prior to the Bigleaf deployment, CallTower was using a VPN to connect its offices. However, CallTower has not completely eliminated the VPN, but will run it over the SD-WAN for the encryption and security, which isn’t yet part of the SD-WAN solution.
CallTower considered a number of vendors to deploy its SD-WAN, but what it came down to was the ability for its applications to be able to receive traffic from the customers.
“We were able to work with Bigleaf to come up with a design that would allow us to deploy, and to give our customers the benefit of dedicated connection between our network and the BigLeaf backbone without a heavy infrastructure investment, without bringing that traffic back to us,” said Chambers. “Also, their hardware and the way they stack their hardware in terms of bandwidth was simple, it just made sense.”