After about 10 years with MPLS, Wachter, an electrical contractor and technology integrator, was bogged down by costs and periodic site outages due to a lack of redundancy. Which is why, when its MPLS contract came up for renewal, it sought something different to connect its employees and sites.
Carl Shriver, the IT operations manager at Wachter, said that cost, avoiding outages, and having agility for making local connections were the main drivers for converting to SD-WAN.
“I think there are still companies out there that want to stick with an MPLS, and spend the money, and not have to worry about it. And kudos to you, but for the smaller, more agile companies that want to save money and keep things simple, this is definitely the route to go,” he said.
Original estimates put the cost savings at about $200,000 a year. And since deploying the managed SD-WAN from MNJ, Shriver says the company spends 50 percent less compared to what it was spending with MPLS. “It wasn’t a small amount of money, and some of the bigger sites were the ones that really [saved] the most because they had the really big pipes that were costing quite a bit of money,” he said.
Wachter has more than 1,400 employees across 13 offices and data centers. Because some of these facilities are small, keeping the cost margins was difficult with MPLS as it could be costly to run cable to the new sites if it didn’t already exist from their cable provider. “It [SD-WAN] adds a lot of agility to our business model to be able to utilize whatever is available in that geographical market,” Shriver said.
The company now has two active circuits or two active broadband lines at each site to ensure better reliability and service.
Shriver said that Wachter did evaluate additional SD-WAN vendors, including FatPipes, but ended up going with the managed Silver Peak technology from MNJ because it has a “history in WAN optimization, and has done a really good job of making sure that data goes across from one point to another and gets moved down to core data, so you’re able to get more out of the bandwidth that you already have.”
Rather than buying directly from Silver Peak, the company chose a managed service for a few reasons. One, it had an existing relationship with MNJ and had been using it as a hardware and software vendor for many years. And two, because Wachter doesn’t have a large networking department, this allowed it to offload the management and troubleshooting to a third party.
“[SD-WAN is] really a different beast,” said Shriver. “It’s very different from what I’m used to.” While Wachter is not totally hands off, he said that having a partner to call up when there are problems has been very helpful.
MNJ’s Managed SD-WAN
Silver Peak is just one of the vendors that MNJ works with to deliver a managed SD-WAN offering. It also provides technology from Talari Networks, Cisco, and Fortinet. MNJ offers each as a managed service and technology, implementing a fully-integrated managed service from circuit to firewall to the SD-WAN device to network infrastructure.
MNJ is also a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), which means it can size, sell, and manage customers circuit and broadband, said Ben Niernberg, SVP at MNJ Technologies. “Where most managed service providers fall short is, they can’t sell or figure out the right sizing of the broadband, so they’re dependent on another company to do that.”
According to Niernberg, Wachter’s is a common use case for MNJ. “Someone like Wachter is what we see on a day-to-day basis, which is a customer that has a high MPLS cost through a carrier, had service issues, had managed service issues, firewall issues, response time issues,” he said. “We were able to come in and every one of the services within our SD-WAN offering fit and solved the problems that they were looking to solve.”
Even though it was a common deployment, Niernberg noted that Wachter had a “complex design in the way they have their routing and switching set.” However, because it has a team of network engineers and routing and switching professionals, MNJ was “able to work through that complicated design, probably quicker than most could.”