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IU Health, CBTS cooperate to deploy COVID-19 pop-up testing centers in 24 hours

Solidarity during times of crisis—neighbors assisting neighbors simply for the sake of being helpful­—is how communities pull through. The same is true of businesses that lend a hand to one another during difficult periods.

While the United States struggles as a nation to respond to the dangerously contagious novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, businesses are shutting down and people are confining themselves to their homes in an attempt to “flatten the curve,” or reduce the infection rate, as much as possible and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. The healthcare industry has been on the front lines of this public health crisis. One healthcare organization in particular was recently facing a significant challenge it couldn’t easily address on its own. That’s where solidarity came in.

Rising to the task

Indiana University Health, a nonprofit healthcare system that operates 17 hospitals throughout Indiana and employs nearly 30,000 people, is recognized as the largest and most comprehensive healthcare system in the state. When the COVID-19 pandemic began reaching local communities served by IU Health, it was clear that immediate action was needed. The hospital system sought ways to serve populations at risk of infection without putting other patients in unnecessary danger of exposure or infection.

The decision was made to establish a series of remote testing centers dedicated to providing treatment outside of primary IU Health facilities. These “pop-up” clinics would serve as additional resources for potential and confirmed COVID-19 cases while reducing the logistical burden on traditional, physical hospitals.

However, these clinics would need the same level of data center access, information security, and connection reliability that the main hospitals had. The medical professionals staffing these clinics would also expect high quality of service, predictable performance, and consistent bandwidth from the network, as well as the ability to securely use the devices and applications they’re accustomed to using in their day-to-day hospital environments.

Additionally, IU Health’s medical professionals and IT specialists alike needed the network to not only handle communications and computer activity, but to also monitor patients connected to other networked medical equipment.

The operative issue was to adapt IU Health’s existing IT infrastructure to this new functionality and get the new pop-up sites networked and operational on a strict timeline.

A reliable partner

Fortunately for IU Health and the communities it serves, a strong and productive partnership already existed between the hospital network and CBTS. With their wealth of knowledge about IU Health’s day-to-day networking technology needs, CBTS was in a position to offer immediate and effective assistance. Despite global inventory shortages and shipping delays, IU Health’s networking technology partners were able to develop and deploy a VMware SD-WAN solution powered by VeloCloud on short notice, with patient service and wellness being the top priorities.

Through a combination of close cooperation, forethought, and nimble problem-solving, IU Health and CBTS were able to design and deploy a scalable, agile, and highly mobile cloud computing network that grants reliable data center access to all of IU Health’s newly established remote contact centers—all within 24 hours. This network allows these pop-up clinics, often located in parking lots and other disparate areas, to operate with the same effectiveness as fully network hospitals while enjoying reliable connections to existing data centers, despite the distances involved.

Additionally, this VMware SD-WAN solution by VeloCloud includes proprietary collaboration tools and cloud applications, as well as the capability to prioritize mission-critical traffic over any transport conditions. As a managed solution, the network can also be monitored, maintained, and updated as needed from a single point of contact.

Moving forward together

Like two neighbors coming together to address a serious issue, this partnership between a client and a provider led to a synergistic and effective solution. By working closely, the two entities accomplished a significant feat in rapidly deploying multiple pop-up clinics in one day, taking the fight against COVID-19 to the front lines, and providing testing and treatment to tens of thousands of patients in non-traditional locations.

To find out more about what partnership with CBTS and VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud can offer your enterprise, contact us.

How NaaS Helped a Cannabis Company Manage its Rapid Growth

Many enterprises have turned to Network as a Service (NaaS) as a means to rid themselves of rigid, silo-laden, legacy network architectures. Not only is NaaS a lower-cost option, but provides the flexibility needed to compete in a rapidly evolving digital economy.

Start-up organizations do not have this problem, however, because they have no legacy networks to contend with. Today’s emerging company is purpose-built for advanced virtual and cloud-based infrastructure. For them, NaaS provides an altogether different, but no less significant, advantage: the ability to scale networks to support rapidly expanding workflows.

One of the fastest-growing industries these days is cannabis. Whether for medical or recreational purposes, the pot industry is growing by leaps and bounds even though it remains fully legal in only a handful of states.

For one company at the forefront of Michigan’s nascent cannabis industry, rapid growth had them in a bind when it came to sourcing and provisioning network infrastructure. With limited staff and a limited budget, expansion to multiple sites across the state, not to mention plans to branch out to other states, posed a heady challenge, both in terms of initial capital costs and ongoing licensing, maintenance and support.

Instead, the company chose to deploy NaaS as a managed service by CBTS. The overriding factor in this decision was one of logistics: while a traditional hardware-centric network required a great deal of time and implementation of complex technical solutions, NaaS can be deployed at the speeds needed in today’s economy. This is particularly important when the expanding customer base is dependent on the reliable delivery of a basic medical product that is vital to their quality of life.

As a matter of capital costs, NaaS provides a much more elegant solution to a greenfield network deployment than the complex process of selecting the right hardware, shipping it to dispersed locations, installing it, integrating software, followed by testing, debugging and a host of other steps—only to produce a system that will steadily lose value and provide diminishing performance with the passage of time. With NaaS, the enterprise is equipped with a state-of-the-art network that is continuously upgraded and backed by 24x7x365 support by thoroughly trained professionals. At the same time, companies can scale the consumption of virtual resources according to workload demands, thereby eliminating the need to maintain idle capacity during non-peak hours.

One of the key advantages of the CBTS NaaS platform is the Cisco Meraki dashboard, which provides the option to offload day-to-day management operations to CBTS technical staff even as the enterprise retains the ability to step in and implement its own management decisions when the need arises. The system provides deep visibility into networking conditions—everything from overall uptime, performance and application usage to detailed metrics on how users are engaging the system. This provides a thorough understanding of what is happening both internally and externally to the native network footprint so executives can make informed business decisions related to the impact on network consumption.

As well, network configurations can be designed around a number of security and redundancy features, including firewalls at each site and high-availability pairs at centralized locations to enable seamless failover in the event of an outage. Under this architecture, the enterprise is able to maintain virtual private networks between sites while still keeping confidential data secure.

With the pace of economic activity at a fever pitch these days, start-ups need to maintain single focus on growing their business, not building and maintaining data infrastructure. With a managed NaaS platform, fast-growing organizations are finding they can do just that. By handing off network implementation and management tasks to a provider, all company resources can be devoted to enhancing revenue streams, tapping new markets and optimizing core business processes.

For information on how CBTS can solve your networking problems, visit cbts.com.

Read how a cannabis cultivation company utilized NaaS to overcome its network challenges, support rapid growth, and offload day-to-day network monitoring to CBTS.

How healthcare providers implement better mass communications with CBTS

When it comes to healthcare, effective communications can make all the difference between life and death. Without the right communications technology in place, doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, and other stakeholders can risk the delivery of information vital to successful patient outcomes.

The need for rapid, highly-targeted, and widely-distributed communications is absolutely necessary today. With specialized systems governing life support, patient monitoring, and drug delivery, and other crucial functions becoming more intelligent and autonomous, these systems also need to communicate more effectively with medical staff and each other.

Advanced communications can positively impact patient outcomes

The problems with a significant number of mass-communication systems in place are similar to the issues related to data operations in general. Many platforms are outdated, having evolved over decades to meet the needs of an on-premises, data center-centric approach. Additionally, the manual and on-site nature of managing and operating this infrastructure is out of step with the high-speed, automated performance requirements of today’s communications environments.

With regulatory requirements and the rapid need for swift medical care, the adoption of advanced communications can lag behind patient-focused technology needs. Critical communications infrastructure requirements are absolutely front and center issues. Meanwhile, online doctor consultations and virtual visits are still necessary and require a different approach to communications, without disrupting the functioning of the rest of the healthcare organization.

Healthcare systems need to move to a communications environment with the capability to handle today’s current pandemic, post-COVID-19 worst-case scenario incidents, natural disasters, or mass casualty events. Timely, accurate delivery of information has a positive impact on real-time steps affecting patient outcomes.

 
The world we live in today definitely highlights the importance of sharing critical information during emergencies. However, many organizations do not have the infrastructure in place to properly communicate with everyone. This poses a danger to everyone involved.

Download our white paper, where we share the best practices to implement in your organization to help avoice these same pitfalls should you need to manage an emergency.

 

Consider cloud-based mass-alert technology

CBTS addresses the needs of modern healthcare organizations through its Hosted Enterprise Unified Communications (UC) solutions. One critical advantage CBTS brings to healthcare providers is the integration of Singlewire Software’s InformaCast Fusion platform, a cloud-based mass-alert technology with world-class messaging tools designed for campus installations and wide geographic areas. With the Hosted Enterprise UC solution in place, organizations can prioritize messages to defined groups using advanced VoIP, teleconferencing, mobile, and global collaboration tools via a turnkey, centralized dashboard.

Using mass notifications, organizations can quickly integrate IP speakers, digital signage solutions, panic buttons, and other devices to share critical information automatically. The solution not only enhances the speed and reach of communications infrastructure, but it also lowers overall costs by removing the need to invest in multiple technologies to oversee these diverse lines of connectivity. Specifically, this technology improves communications in four key areas:

  • Automated paging – contact the right people at the right time, whether it’s a pre-recorded message or a code blue.
  • Patient tracking – automate the connectivity to tracking devices and send instant alerts when their location triggers a warning.
  • Lockdown – quickly initiate and share lockdown procedures with staff and visitors via mobile, email and on-prem devices.
  • Severe weather – pull alerts directly from the National Weather Service and distribute them to all users, along with any instructions and follow-up messages.

Integrate mass communications capabilities for IoT devices

Equally important is the need to integrate mass communications capabilities into the growing arsenal of IoT devices that are populating the healthcare industry. These devices include everything from light and temperature control systems to access entry, fire alarms, and medical devices.

With the implementation of these capabilities, healthcare providers can ensure the information required to maintain optimal care is going to the right person or device without drowning medical professionals in unnecessary or redundant alerts and messages. Simultaneously, CBTS takes over the time-consuming tasks of configuring phones, allocating bandwidth, and ensuring high-quality communications under its hosted managed service solution.

Faster, better, secure solutions

The healthcare industry is similar to other sectors of the economy when it comes to technology. It requires faster, better solutions that are secure, easy to implement and operate, and less expensive than traditional platforms. When it comes to communications, the best way to achieve these goals is through a hosted cloud-based solution that provides both the scale and flexibility to operate at the speed required of today’s digital applications and services.

We are watching our healthcare system transforming daily. Functions like mass communications and mass alerting can help organizations manage digital assets and incorporate next-gen technologies into mainstream operations.

For more information on how CBTS can help your organization manage this transition today, give us a call at (866) 587-2287, or visit our website at https://www.cbts.com/communications/.

How NaaS Can Relieve Stress of Providing Mental Health Services

Of all the specializations in the healthcare industry, mental health providers face some of the most complex sets of data and regulatory challenges.

As researchers continue to uncover significant links between mental and physical health, the mental health patient load has increased dramatically. And in this period of rising mental illness and a shortage of mental health resources, these same healthcare organizations are tasked with improving data privacy and security, provider access, personal and professional communication, storage, and analytics. Moreover, mental health providers face some of the most stringent legal and regulatory burdens in the industry.

When a North Carolina mental healthcare provider came to CBTS to update its network infrastructure, the primary goal was to consolidate the wide disparity of equipment and platforms that had evolved over the years, as the practice had expanded from a single office to multiple sites across several states in the southeastern U.S. With only two members on their IT team, the new infrastructure had to meet numerous requirements:

  • Low cost.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Easy to upgrade.
  • Supports HIPAA compliance and other regulatory requirements.
  • Top-notch security.
  • High availability.
  • Dynamically scalable.

After reviewing several on-premises and service delivery options, it became clear the best approach was a Network as a Service (NaaS) solution with Cisco Meraki technology at its core.

Unlike traditional network environments, NaaS provides a virtualized, software-defined solution that is cheaper and easier to deploy and operate, with a level of flexibility more in tune with the dynamic nature of today’s data flows.

As a managed service, NaaS provides the robust connectivity organizations need without requiring the addition of personnel to maintain it. Once the Cisco Meraki Dashboard is in place, day-to-day operational responsibilities—such as resource provisioning, network mapping, and security monitoring—are handled by experienced professionals at CBTS, while preserving the ability for internal IT staff to monitor and adjust the network as necessary.

This level of fine-grain visibility extends across the network architecture, from the local data center to branch or secondary locations and beyond to the next-gen UTM edge. Technicians on the enterprise side maintain full control through a simple, user-friendly interface, and can see all alerts, discrepancies, and operational metrics on any device no matter their location.

And to support HIPAA compliance efforts of healthcare organizations, NaaS can be configured to encrypt data before transmission. Although not formally designated as a HIPAA-compliant solution—since that extends beyond the scope of networking—NaaS nevertheless reinforces compliance by adding an extra layer of data protection at the network level, which is coming increasingly under attack by hackers. With data encrypted in motion, criminals who manage to break into the network are not able to decipher the data without access to the original encryption keys.

The NaaS framework is deployed easily and tailored to the organization’s unique data demands without expensive retrofitting or forklift upgrades. With NaaS, the networking infrastructure is continually updated, so the organization is always equipped with state-of-the-art technology without significant upfront capital outlays. Additionally, NaaS facilitates the expansion of new sites and easily handles ever-increasing data loads. In these scenarios, business policies can be set to ensure the network can manage increased volume without interrupting or degrading performance for existing users.

Serving mental health needs in today’s hectic, chaotic world is a stressful endeavor, which can ultimately wear on the mental health of providers. One of the ways to relieve that burden is to shed responsibility for support services, like networking, to a provider whose core business is to deliver stress-free IT services to clients.

With NaaS, organizations tasked with improving the mental health of patients will find that they can deliver improved services and achieve better outcomes than those that continue to rely on aging infrastructure. And in this way, they can help make entire communities safer and more productive.

To learn more about how CBTS can help you solve your networking pain points with NaaS, visit cbts.com/communications/network-service-naas.

 

NaaS and SD-WAN from CBTS are compatible with compliance and can enhance security required in the healtchare industry.
Why SD-WAN is a powerful healthcare solution

SD-WAN and Healthcare: CIOs Guide to Mission-Critical Transformation,

 
 

Considerations for Remote Work

How to leverage technology to work around the Coronavirus

By embracing collaboration technology, modern enterprises can begin to move away from traditional face-to-face meetings as the go-to tool for driving business operations. The teleconferencing trend shows no signs of slowing down, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As reported cases of the novel Coronavirus grow in number and quarantine becomes necessary to safeguard employees, companies across multiple industries are leaning on video conferences and other collaboration technology more than ever. Effective use of these tools, however, is crucial for continuing business operations and avoiding costly downtime.

Tips to ensure remote work efficiency

Video meeting capabilities give modern organizations significant flexibility in times of crisis.

One approach that has successfully connected global workplaces is the “video first” approach, which emphasizes video conferencing as a reliable alternative for when in-person meetings aren’t feasible due to travel, remote offices, or illness. This strategy is rapidly catching on in the modern business world­; a survey by Deloitte found that 70 percent of respondents expect to use collaboration platforms more often in the near future.

Here are some helpful tips to follow when your teammates are working from home:

  • Get everyone on the same page by using the same tools.
  • Create online work spaces for projects to keep essential team members in the loop.
  • Keep meeting documents, presentations, and notes in a shared place.
  • Record meetings for people who are not able to attend.
  • Turn your video on; it makes a difference.

The Right Tools for the Job

Many enterprise employees worldwide are being required or encouraged to stay home from the office to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Platforms such as Cisco Webex Meetings and Webex Teams can be critical for allowing these enterprises to maintain their day-to-day functionality and continue to serve their clients throughout a public health crisis. There is a wealth of options available for enterprises looking to empower their employees to work remotely without sacrificing collaboration or productivity. CBTS can implement the features you need, such as Call Forward All, Single Number Reach (SNR), and Voicemail to E-mail to keep your team engaged and performing at their best no matter their location.

Webex Meetings enables teams to coordinate their efforts even with miles between them. Anyone inside or outside your organization can quickly join a meeting from a smartphone, desktop, video room devices, or through their browser. Everyone can enjoy consistent meeting experiences and be fully engaged in the conference with minimal technical complexity. Webex Meetings removes the complexity of the video meeting experience—with crystal-clear audio and content sharing in the same session.

Cisco Webex Teams is an easy-to-use collaboration solution that keeps teams and departments connected anytime, anywhere.

  • Start calls instantly, have high-quality video meetings with screen sharing at the touch of a button.
  • Create secure virtual workspaces for every purpose.
  • Include outside vendors or customers in collaborative spaces.
  • Simplify day-to-day interactions with messaging and file sharing.
  • Third-party app integrations for a seamless workflow.
  • Increase productivity and engagement with real-time communications.
  • Express your ideas on digital whiteboards and add colleagues at any time.

For more information on how CBTS can help your organization during the COVID-19 health crisis, check out our Contingency planning post or collaboration and meeting solutions page at CBTS.com.

Case Study: Network upgrade improves customer engagement

Synopsis: CBTS recently conducted a network upgrade for an auto retailer by implementing Network as a Service (NaaS). As a result, the auto retailer experienced a significant cost savings of approximately 55 percent. Read this article to learn about more results the retailer enjoyed and other benefits of NaaS.

Customer satisfaction is a principal performance indicator for service centers. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to satisfy customers when the necessary technological and equipment support is not provided. An old and unreliable network infrastructure means that prospective customers will struggle to contact the service center, and when they do, the quality of both the call and customer engagement is compromised.

A network upgrade from CBTS provides a reduction in network downtime, an improvement in customer engagement, and access to vital customer data and analytics.

Network challenges for service centers

Multi-site service centers that run on outdated networks are bound to face a number of challenges.

CBTS recently worked with a service center client whose legacy equipment was being run on a copper network and could no longer efficiently serve its 103 locations. Constant network outages resulted in numerous lost business opportunities as prospective customers could not get in touch with the client while their resources were being expended to keep the network online.

Additionally, because of the obsolete nature of the technology the client was operating with, modern amenities were not available. A network upgrade was required to not only stabilize but enhance the network.

CBTS NaaS offers a wide range of solutions

Network as a Service from CBTS offers businesses a flexible avenue to expand, secure, and maintain their networks. It provides hardware upgrades, the ability to connect multiple locations seamlessly, 24x7x365 support, and more.

By leveraging the CBTS NaaS solution, service centers looking to revamp their network infrastructures stand to benefit from the following:
 
  1. A network that seamlessly connects multiple locations and integrates existing data centers, ensuring that there is no downtime during the transition period.
  2. Cutting-edge equipment and technology that is reliable, cost-effective, and easy to maintain.
  3. Improved Wi-Fi network for visitors, making it easy to gather valuable customer data.
  4. A cloud-based infrastructure that moves the business from a CapEx to an OpEx financial model.
  5. Prevents future technology obsolescence by incorporating hardware refreshes in the product lifecycle.
  6. Frees IT support staff to focus on innovation instead of managing a failing network.

Impact of network upgrade on the client’s business

CBTS upgraded the client’s technology with our NaaS solution to provide their business with an ultramodern network managed and supported by CBTS. Voice calls and wireless services are more reliable and of higher quality, downtime across all branches has been reduced by 10 percent, and approximately 55 percent has been saved in operational expenses.

While waiting to be attended to, visitors get to enjoy Wi-Fi services; this allows the service center to gather valuable customer data and analytics such as how much is gained (or lost) depending on what time the store opens and closes. Data like this can be used to optimize service delivery, improve customer engagement, and increase customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, by selling advert spaces on the customer authentication page to vendors, the client generates even more revenue. The authentication page can also be used to provide customers with information on promotional offers, new locations, and so on.

Conclusion

CBTS NaaS helped upgrade this service center’s network from copper-based equipment with unreliable voice call services to a modern cloud-hosted infrastructure that seamlessly connects hundreds of locations. The solution is not only superior, it requires less time and resources to maintain. It provides a means to generate further income, and it allows the client to collect and leverage customer analytics.

The client’s IT staff now has complete visibility into their network with a centrally managed dashboard and has 24x7x365 support from CBTS expert engineers for all of their locations nationwide.

How to choose the right SD-WAN provider for your business

It’s no longer a secret that SD-WAN is at the leading edge of software-based networking deployments. Users, no matter their location, demand large amounts of bandwidth and direct access to the continually growing number of SaaS and cloud-based applications.

For Matt Douglass, Senior Director of Solution Engineering at CBTS, in order to truly take advantage of all the benefits of SD-WAN, organizations need to understand the value of partnering with the right SD-WAN service provider. The first step is knowing how to evaluate the best fit for your company.

How to find the right SD-WAN partner

Over the past five years, we’ve seen a boom in networking technology innovations. With it, the ability for businesses to design and deploy incremental improvements across a variety of different environments has been stretched. Teams at CBTS have spent a lot of time working side-by-side with IT departments in numerous industries, so we have the expertise to transition legacy MPLS networks to a hybrid or new SD-WAN deployment that’s better suited for today’s technology demands. CBTS begins by analyzing where an organization’s network is today and then determines the best way to move forward seamlessly to next-generation networking technology.

For organizations looking to free up their IT resources, partnering with a managed services provider gives them that flexibility. With a managed SD-WAN deployment, your SD-WAN partner will be there with you for Day 2 Operations and beyond, helping monitor, maintain, and update the network as needed to ensure all applications and services are performing optimally. One common misperception about SD-WAN is once your managed services provider deploys the architecture, your IT staff will no longer have full control over the platform or your network. With CBTS, however, an experienced and award-winning provider of VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud, your IT department co-manages the environment. With its centralized monitoring, visibility, and cloud control, VMware has created a platform designed to make the most of the combined expertise of CBTS and your IT staff to deliver on your organization’s desired business outcomes.

SD-WAN reality check

During the last 30 years, only a few momentous technology shifts, especially as they relate to the cloud, can compare to the significance of SD-WAN for networking. Organizations today view SD-WAN as a next-generation networking solution to deliver consistency, continually enhance user experience across locations, and ensure a new standard of service for applications.

One of the biggest misconceptions about SD-WAN, however, is the belief that it’s an all-encompassing “easy button” to solve variable and degraded connectivity for a company’s dispersed workforce. It undoubtedly can address a majority of network concerns when designed with care and precision, but a DIY approach is difficult for any organization. Even if a company’s IT team has a firm understanding of SD-WAN, deploying across hundreds or even thousands of sites without the support of a partner can present daunting challenges. An experienced SD-WAN partner will ensure a smooth deployment, giving your IT staff a level of control and visibility over your network and applications like never before while eliminating the potential for network disruption.

The key to success for a software-defined network strategy

Because networking technologies continuously evolve, ongoing learning and training are vital to the success of any software-defined strategy. For CBTS, we work directly with your IT personnel, first, to understand the differences and similarities between their traditional wide-area network and SD-WAN, and secondly, to align the network infrastructure roadmap with specific business goals.

The next step is helping IT personnel recognize the relationships between SD-WAN infrastructure and the communications and productivity apps used every day across an organization. Learning how to manage and prioritize traffic to handle communications technologies like Voice over Internet Protocol  (VoIP) and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is crucial, along with understanding how to integrate and maximize the performance of cloud apps like Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365. Your SD-WAN partner should be able to guide your IT staff not only on the integration of these apps but also on how to standardize the different cloud applications used by various departments in your organization. Organizing and aligning these different technologies is vital to achieving your desired business outcomes.

Equally important is choosing a partner intrigued by your business challenges and that can help you determine the best path toward meeting future goals. The objective, for example, might be to reduce operating expenses or achieve 100 percent application uptime rate during a network failure. The right service provider will ask relevant questions and take the time to comprehend where your company’s network and application flow is today so they can help you get to where you want to be tomorrow.

A look to the future

At VMworld 2019, two key technologies were highlighted for their impact on the networking landscape: IoT and 5G. Without implementing SD-WAN, your IT department may be capable of handling hundreds, or even thousands of devices, without much trouble. However, it will soon be impossible to manage tens (or hundreds) of thousands of devices, all their connections, and how they communicate without software intelligence built into your network. As IoT and 5G push compute services to the edge, SD-WAN will become critical in helping prioritize traffic.

SD-WAN alleviates a multitude of constraints, from simplifying branch networks to adding greater agility. Choosing a strategic SD-WAN provider gets your organization one step closer to solving the unique challenges facing your remote locations. A partner in lockstep with your initiatives ensures your IT staff can equip your workforce with the resources they need to keep up with today’s continuous digital transformations.  

For more information about why today’s business leaders are transitioning to SD-WAN, visit: https://go.cbts.com/request-nyc-cio-summit-tools

Putting SD-WAN to work in the Manufacturing Sector

For most enterprises in recent decades, multiple label protocol switching (MPLS) has been the go-to solution for their voice and data needs. Lately, however, as data footprints have become more complex, and traffic has become both heavier and more dynamic, this long-standing technology’s shortcomings are starting to hamper performance.

Recently a machine tool manufacturing firm based in Florence, KY, came to CBTS to see if they could improve their wide are connectivity without blowing their budget. Their MPLS service, it turned out, suffered from numerous deficiencies, including:

  • Rising costs
  • Inability to scale
  • Poor customer support
  • Poor visibility
  • Lack of redundancy

The key challenge was to offer an alternative solution that could be implemented quickly and non-disruptively while preserving the reliability that is the hallmark of MPLS.

In the end, the answer was a full replacement of the MPLS service with a combined SD-WAN and SIP solution connecting the company’s main office with more than 19 locations across North America. The solution provides excellent performance at lower costs both now and in the future as data loads continue to climb.

One distinct advantage of SD-WAN is that it enables users to access greater bandwidth dynamically. With its sophisticated software management, data loads adjust automatically to the appropriate set of resources based on costs, performance needs, and a host of other factors. These capabilities eliminate the need to pay for peak bandwidth at all times, leaving much of it idle during periods of light use. Also, this manufacturing company was able to replace its single-thread connection at each site with multiple redundant connections, providing high availability even during peak loads.

Another crucial factor for deploying SD-WAN was the desire to move more applications to the cloud. The company is a significant user of Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365, along with digital voice, and moving these applications to the cloud saves on licensing costs and local infrastructure. But these changes are only effective if the network is flexible enough to handle the bursts of application traffic over the long-haul. With SD-WAN, companies can easily support this cloud application traffic, allowing wide area networks to behave more like local infrastructure and data center environments extending over large geographic regions.

SD-WAN also provides greater visibility and control than traditional MPLS infrastructure. With its advanced monitoring and orchestration software, users can drill down into fine-grain performance data and determine where bottlenecks are occurring and then reroute the traffic to less stressed resources. In many cases, potential problems can be avoided up front, leading to a much smoother flow of data and more reliable service. Much of these adjustments happen automatically using increasingly intelligent algorithms, allowing network technicians to step back from day-to-day network management and focus on higher-level strategic tasks.

Looking ahead, SD-WAN also fits better with the emerging IoT infrastructure than MPLS. Manufacturers of all types are rapidly deploying sensors throughout their supply chains, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and delivery and distribution channels to drive inefficiency out of the business model. But all of this data needs to be collected and analyzed promptly, putting pressure on the enterprise to adopt low-cost, flexible bandwidth infrastructure across the wide area. By deploying SD-WAN now and reaping the benefits within existing IT infrastructure, manufacturers in virtually any industry can future-proof their networks for the data deluge that is just around the corner.

Rarely do businesses encounter a technology that produces immediate savings and better performance right from the start, but SD-WAN delivers on both levels. By migrating away from or augmenting solutions like MPLS, organizations will find the typical cost-benefit calculations do not apply – costs are lower, and the benefits far outweigh the initial investment.

For more information about how to improve your network infrastructure, contact us today.

Reexamining the fast-paced, ultra-competitive SD-WAN landscape

CIOs in nearly every industry recognize the benefits Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) can bring to their organizations. SD-WAN is proven to deliver better performance and greater control over traditional WAN infrastructure and the application traffic flowing across the network. SD-WAN technology is built specifically to handle all of today’s cloud-based applications, providing increased network efficiency and giving CIOs the agility they need to manage exponential traffic growth. 

With the right SD-WAN in place, network administrators can orchestrate traffic automatically, deploy applications faster, provide exceptional user experience, and bring down costs. But not all SD-WAN solutions and providers are the same, and with the technology changing so quickly, how can you determine the best fit for your organization?

Here are five key considerations to help you determine the right SD-WAN platform and provider for your needs:

  1. Experience. With dozens of available SD-WAN platforms offered by more than 150 providers, the SD-WAN landscape continues to expand. In this environment of numerous startups and continuous acquisitions, it’s essential to identify solutions that will be there for the long haul – companies with the people, processes, and financial stability to perform well globally, over time.
  2. Performance. The best SD-WAN providers will have the engineering support to customize the solution for your specific business needs. The differentiators between solutions are highly dependent upon the ways the platforms are designed to handle traffic, cloud application flows, and security. Today’s most advanced solutions can identify individual application flows, like a single phone call or app stream, and will duplicate and reassemble failing flows across connections. Additionally, the most effective platforms will provide cloud gateways and guarantee Quality of Service (QoS) of SaaS applications like Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce–and even for existing UCaaS environments.
  3. Flexibility. The SD-WAN solution must work with and boost the performance of your existing MPLS or Hybrid WAN infrastructure and provide the option for installation as a standalone MPLS replacement. Also, ideal solutions will give you the ability to deploy in both concentrated regions and global branch environments. 
  4. Agility. An experienced SD-WAN provider can help you assign specific policies to control and direct WAN traffic and align application priority, security, and performance with business intent. The platform will have a highly detailed level of manager visibility and control of traffic and application performance across every location.
  5. Security. Along with enabling extensive visibility into both data center or Software as a Service (SaaS) application use, the SD-WAN provider will help you apply network-wide security and business policies. Additionally, they will assist with the deployment of local, third-party cloud security services wherever needed to extend the WAN perimeter from the cloud to each branch.

We know choosing a provider to deliver on your precise, strategic SD-WAN business goals can be a daunting task. The decision involves not only the considerations we’ve laid out above but also aligning the value proposition with the overall costs for implementation and ongoing support. Ideally, we want to empower CIOs with the flexibility to engineer an SD-WAN solution with the best combination of traffic management and control technologies while improving the performance and security of cloud applications across all branches and users.

For CBTS, VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud gives our clients the best combination of financial stability, global reach and support, industry-leading features, customization options, and the security they need to handle the exponential growth in network traffic. Moreover, the VeloCloud solution can be deployed on existing WAN and UCaaS infrastructure to improve application performance, network visibility, and VoIP traffic while reducing branch network costs. Finally, our longstanding partnership with VMware means our clients have access to our in-house engineers and technical support experts who understand the technology and have the relationships to ensure success.

Learn more about the SD-WAN solution from CBTS.

To learn more about how advanced VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud capabilities like Dynamic Multi-Path Optimization (DMPO) and cloud gateways can give you a competitive advantage, download our SD-WAN Tool Kit and request a free 90-day proof of concept.

Improve voice and video conference quality by implementing SD-WAN and UCaaS together

The business world is continually evolving, and the success of your organization depends upon your ability to adapt quickly to the ever-changing competitive environment.

Collaboration among dispersed employees, partners, and customers is paramount for business success.  

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) from CBTS can transform your business  by allowing your distributed workforce, partners, and customers to communicate and collaborate via the cloud, combining voice, video conferencing, and text messaging applications on a single platform.

Additionally, Hosted UC from CBTS brings a flexible, scalable, cloud-based communications platform that is less expensive than onsite hardware and services typically leased from traditional telecommunications providers.

To get the most out of UCaaS, customers often pair the technology with a Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) from CBTS to avoid dropped calls, weak signals, and lagging video connections.

Standalone UCaaS can result in poor voice quality and video conference quality

As businesses have moved communications to the cloud, some users experience poor quality for voice and video conferencing, depending upon how their services are delivered. Poor quality service, for example, can occur when enterprises try to utilize UCaaS over the public internet. Unified Communications solutions over the internet treat voice and data the same way, which can result in communication lags and dropped calls, especially when using voice and video conferencing platforms simultaneously.

These communication lags and dropped calls result from network configurations that move voice and data packets to several data centers before reaching their final destinations. This type of packet transport can cause pixelated images, frozen screens, dropped calls, echoes, and poor voice and video communications quality. Moreover, these issues can be made worse through the use of modern collaboration and productivity applications, which are increasingly dynamic and require more and more bandwidth, further degrading user experiences.

Additionally, poor communications quality often occurs when public internet access-only systems cannot prioritize traffic to reduce congestion, jitter, and packet loss – factors causing the communications delays that negatively impact user experience and erode productivity. To solve problems with lag and dropped calls, companies often pair UCaaS with SD-WAN.

Combining UCaaS with SD-WAN for optimal user experiences

CBTS SD-WAN solutions streamline distributed organizations into an easily accessible enterprise where everyone, regardless of proximity, can connect to the main office network via the public internet. When deployed together, SD-WAN and UCaaS connect enterprise networks across significant geographical distances while managing bandwidth and using dynamic path selection to deliver optimal user experiences on voice and video conferencing applications.

A UCaaS and SD-WAN implementation routes network activity through the organization’s infrastructure in the most efficient way, eliminating voice issues and video delays and facilitating seamless collaboration between employees, partners, and customers.

Choosing the right SD-WAN and UCaaS provider

Choosing an experienced SD-WAN and UCaaS provider can reduce operational and capital expenses while improving voice and video conferencing performance. When paired together, UCaaS and SD-WAN consolidate WAN services – routing, Wi-Fi, ethernet, firewalls, voice, collaboration, and application visibility – onto a single platform.

The CBTS SD-WAN platform improves cloud-based application performance and facilitates communication between employees, partners, and customers at locations across the country and around the world. SD-WAN is quickly becoming a business imperative to support workloads and applications that are increasingly migrating to the cloud, while cloud-based UC systems allow businesses to connect the right people to make decisions quickly.

CBTS leverages UCaaS and SD-WAN technology together to transform the way your organization communicates by replacing aging, outdated phone systems. Because the UCaaS system is fully hosted, your IT team is freed to focus their time on vital business initiatives, rather than troubleshooting and repairing old telecommunications gear.

The right SD-WAN makes it easy for IT teams to configure, upgrade, and manage the network from a single dashboard. Using UCaaS in conjunction with their SD-WAN solution ensures employees can access their main office network via an inexpensive internet connection, creating an improved user experience that optimizes business performance.

Contact CBTS experts today to learn how SD-WAN and UCaaS can transform your business.