Is your company’s network service unable to keep pace with your current business needs? Do you find it difficult to manage your network securely and efficiently? Is network performance too slow for your users? How do you manage the task of researching, purchasing, and installing an updated network?
RAM Communications has answered these concerns for many business enterprises. We are here to help you find the technology and service providers that best fit your enterprise needs. RAM consults with you and your team to determine your specific business needs.
In the research phase, we save our clients hours of due-diligence work in technology that can often be foreign and intimidating to business owners and executives. We’re highly effective because we keep close relationships with key service providers (Masergy, Comcast, AT&T, Verizon) while keeping pace with evolving network services like SD-WAN.
What Is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN (or Software-Defined Wide Area Networking) is a software application that delivers and controls VPN services from a cloud-based location. SD-WAN provides several new enhancements for corporate businesses. These enhancements can drive down operating costs and increase network performance.
First, as the name indicates, SD-WAN uses more software and less hardware to deliver network services to the organization and its branch offices.
This software-driven approach can create several advantages over traditional WAN services.
1. Bandwidth Flexibility – SD-WAN allows network administrators the ability to use ANY bandwidth service (illustrate cable, wireless, T1, fiber) as a platform for delivering specific VPN information.
2. Faster Roll Out Times – because SD-WAN is carrier ‘agnostic’, network administrators can utilize any bandwidth service that is most convenient for a given location so you don’t necessarily have to order new circuits.
The SD-WAN provider can supply a router to the site, plug in the existing ISP, and use the bandwidth for hosting all the necessary network activities.
3. Network Redundancy – at RAM, we are most excited about the advantages SD-WAN brings for internet redundancy. With SD-WAN, the client can utilize two (ISPs (internet service providers) simultaneously. The nice part? SD-WAN pools both pieces of bandwidth together so, all applications (voice, VPN,) can run over all or part of the available bandwidth.
If one provider connection goes down, all activities continue to operate on the remaining provider.
In most cases, the end-user experiences no dropped packets or delay which means no downtime!
4. Intelligent Bandwidth Management – because SD-WAN service can pool together separate bandwidth providers, under one device, there are even more benefits.
First, IT staff no longer need to program redundant routes on firewalls or gateway devices. This saves time and potential equipment costs.
Second, this pooling of resources maximizes your overall investment. How? You can see SD-WAN takes full advantage of all bandwidth connections to the router so, none of your bandwidth is left unused as it could be in a traditional A/B failover scenario.
Finally, and perhaps the greatest long-term advantage is the network monitoring enhancements.
The best SDWAN solutions have the best management portals with specific information on usage, network threat management, and overall performance. Your IT Team will have better control and intelligence that can be utilized for better decision-making with upper management.
- Reduces the Need for Expensive MPLS Circuits – SD-WAN can provide similar, often better performance for a lower cost than MPLS. You can pay more or pay less for similar performance. Why pay more?
- Simplifies Network Management – managing network services can be a time-consuming and futile endeavor. Often IT pros struggle to find key productivity measures for corporate management because the information is not readily available on legacy network tools. Many of the legacy network tools lack the key analytics that today’s enterprises need.If you can’t see what’s happening on your network in real-time, then you are missing key information your enterprise could use. We have insightful data analytics from the top service providers in the marketplace today. RAM can show you how these analytics can help you drive performance and lower costs.
- Improves Connectivity Between Locations – more enterprises are working from home now. This treatment has created unexpected productivity issues; remote workers are now the same as remote office branches. They need quality network connections with the enterprise to be productive. Are your end-users productive at home? Or, are they struggling to make applications work on the home internet shared by the family?There are tools and solutions available to help improve and privatize end-user connections. RAM can show you how to make remote connectivity more productive at reasonable costs.
- Improves Application performance – when applications run better your organization is more productive. Increasingly, more applications are being hosted online. SD-WAN helps ensure your applications perform as efficiently and securely as possible.
- Generates Significant Cost Savings – Do you care about saving money? How about saving money on fixed costs? SD-WAN is impacting operational costs for every client we engage. At the same time, we’re able to enhance productivity.
- Simplifies Operations – SD-WAN service is the most efficient redundancy solution available today. From design to installation SD-WAN is easier to utilize than past network technologies. We also leverage SD-WAN to create network connections more quickly. SD-WAN is so efficient at covering up internet connection gaps that end users won’t notice a drop in their network performance.
- Increased Bandwidth – are you having difficulty making your critical applications work? How is that problem affecting your bottom line? Are you willing to spend a small investment to gain productivity for all your users? SD-WAN is positioned to prioritize and push your critical applications for the best possible performance. RAM has spent hundreds of hours helping its clients isolate and improve critical application performance.
- Redundancy, scalability, and fault-tolerant efficiency – simplifying operational tasks saves time. RAM uses solutions like SD-WAN to help clients save operational time. Our clients understand the value of their time and they know and trust our abilities. This is why we continually win and retain outsourced projects with clients new and old.
- Improves quality of experience for critical applications – What this term refers to is using more than one internet service in your organization. Why? Network connections fail for a variety of reasons and many times these outages are beyond your control. How do you minimize risk? Bring in dynamic bandwidth. Using SD-WAN we can integrate and use dynamic bandwidth to help clients achieve the highest uptime possible for as little budget as possible. That’s a win-win and that’s what RAM is here to help your organization achieve through our technology partners and solutions.
- Lowers internet costs – the SD-WAN solutions we design for our clients are lowering internet costs by 20-30% while increasing speed and network capacity by over 50%. We’re consistently bringing clients better performance and cost savings over their old technology. That’s why these upgrades are a no-brainer.
How RAM Communications Can Help You Build a Better WAN
1. SD-WAN Consulting
RAM’s SD-WAN consulting approach uses the same principles we’ve always practiced: explore and understand the client’s needs and build the appropriate solution around those needs. Unfortunately, some providers want to push their ‘one’ product in all environments.
There’s no such thing as a ‘one size fits all model.s This is why RAM maintains tight, vetted relationships with many key service providers in the industry. We bring a variety of trusted sources to the client so we are in a position to make the best recommendation for technology, cost, and operational fit.
2. SD-WAN Installation
Our team takes ownership of every installation. We have to do this to ensure the client receives the solution in proper working order on day one. Unfortunately, many providers drop ship their equipment with a basic installation sheet and a phone number. This is not helpful and puts unnecessary pressure on IT staff or end-users to install a service they may not be qualified to perform. Complex technologies require professional installation. This is why we insist our clients continue to receive the professional installation they deserve.
3. SD-WAN Testing Services
Like the answer in ‘item A’ these solutions require professional engineers and installers to ensure the new SD-WAN service is tested properly. We have to test several performance and redundancy parameters to make sure the product will perform as designed in the client environment.
Otherwise, we risk a product that won’t improve performance and provide the backup service needed during internet interruptions. Proper testing saves money and ensures proper performance. RAM owns this process. We don’t outsource it to the client or their IT staff for completion.
SD-WAN Frequently Asked Questions
- Does My Business Need SD-WAN? What problem are you trying to solve? If your business changes often – opening new offices or branches, switching locations, increasing remote working – your existing network needs to be as agile as your business to keep up.If that sounds like you, SD-WAN could be the right move. If you’re looking to increase speeds and overall performance then SD-WAN is also worth your consideration.
- Can I Do it Myself? You can certainly try to create a new network on your own time. The question is do you have the time and resources to create a new network successfully? Here’s an estimate for your consideration. Depending on the complexity and breadth of your current network you will need to spend considerable time auditing your current services.You will need to consult with your corporate stakeholders, managers, and at least a sampling of other personnel that uses network services so you can pinpoint weaknesses and areas for improvement. The research alone may very well take weeks if not months to complete. Assuming you find the network gear and software tools appropriate for your organization you will then need to set aside hours for implementation and testing.Can you afford to keep staff engaged for after-hours implementations? To avoid downtime during business hours? Do you have resources you can turn to in the event there are network issues that need troubleshooting?At RAM, we’ve provided WAN consulting, planning, and implementation for over 20 years. Consider hiring an expert with the experience, relationships, and resources to provide your organization with the best network. RAM has a proven track record in this field. Our expertise, support, and solutions will lower your costs and provide a clear return on investment. Our clients can assure you that outsourcing your network project is the right call.
- Can SD-WAN Help Me Better Secure My Network? Yes! There are SD-WAN providers integrating firewall and security monitoring tools in their SD-WAN devices. This integration not only helps increase your security it can also be used as a complement to your existing cyber-security system.
- Can SD-WAN Help Me Better Manage Remote (Home-Based) Users? Yes. Using VPN tunnels and updated monitoring tools, SD-WAN can provide home users with secure connections with the office. SD-WAN can also be used to prioritize and therefore improve performance over a home-based internet connection.
- Can SD-WAN Enhance My Hosted Phone Performance? Yes! SD-WAN prioritizes voice as a critical application. So, voice always receives the best bandwidth at all times. When disaster strikes, SD-WAN provides backup internet service to keep calls alive and working.
- Can SD-WAN Enhance My Cloud-Based Applications? Certainly. Like voice, SD-WAN can be used to assign bandwidth to your critical cloud applications so they perform as best as possible under ideal and challenging internet connections.
- Are There Any SD-WAN Solutions Available That Can Fit My Current Budget? Absolutely! RAM has relationships with many service providers who design packages for small, medium, and enterprise-level companies. In most cases, we can find an appropriate provider for every business.
Frequently Asked SD-WAN Questions from Our Clients
- “My current network is slow – end-users complain about slow performance” – Slow performance can result from a number of factors. Adding more ‘speed’ to a network doesn’t necessarily mean it will perform better. We recommend performing a deep network analysis before you even consider making changes. Sometimes, routing updates and other tweaks can have a positive effect.If network tweaks don’t enhance performance then we can certainly make alternate recommendations using technologies like SD-WAN. Again, the careful design and testing of a network are key to long-term performance. The product alone will not solve all your network needs.
- “I don’t know how my network is being used.” – This complaint always tops our list when we interview potential clients. It’s difficult if not impossible to assess network performance and risk if you don’t have proper visibility to your network. Most service providers now have substantial web-based network monitoring tools and controls for client use. RAM has strong recommendations on the best-of-breed tools in the industry.
- “I can’t easily see what users are doing on my network.” Again, if you don’t have proper monitoring tools you won’t know how your network is being utilized. RAM can help you identify the best network tools for your business needs.
- “Are there better tools I can get for network visibility?” RAM can show you demos of all the best web-based network tools on the market today. There are interfaces available that provide statistics on network utilization, bandwidth consumption, uptime, downtime, local and cloud-based app utilization. The list of data is quite extensive and you can customize your desktop view of your network for easy monitoring and assessment.
- “How do I better secure remote/home users on my network?” Believe it or not, there are basic yet vital practices we can teach you and your home users regarding security best practices. There are excellent educational tools that offer sound advice so your users don’t fall prey to cyber threats (ie. phishing attacks) that can destroy your network. Further, when you consider the long-term benefits of developing an educated user base that effectively avoids cyber threats, these tools are extremely affordable.
- “How can I make my network services more secure?” Some network service providers are now incorporating EDS or Early Detection Services in their network routers and firewalls. This doesn’t mean you receive a cohesive security architecture but it does mean your new network will start you on the path of better enterprise security.SD-WAN networks should be designed to offer endpoint detection and work with your suite of security products and services. RAM can show you how to integrate your network so it compliments and enhances your overall security architecture.
- “My business doesn’t want to pay for expensive internet like fiber.” Fiber-based Internet services are still ‘best-in-class’ for performance and security. However, for those enterprises who are looking to reduce cost and maintain performance, SD-WAN-based services can fill in the gap between premium and average internet services. Again, RAM has the experience and providers necessary to help you achieve this goal.
- “Can we build a better network using broadband and other affordable internet services?” Again, when we leverage SD-WAN technology we can utilize products like broadband, 4G, and DSL to create reliable and reasonably performing networks. Planning, design, and careful testing are key to creating a successful outcome.
- “Our network suffers from service interruptions. How do we build a more stable network with a backup service we can afford?” Currently, we leverage SD-WAN technology to create reliable and reasonably performing networks.Some SD-WAN technologies are so advanced we can create network connections that have virtually 0% packet loss in the event a primary connection goes offline. This saves your organization money and greatly enhances productivity in times of outages or poor performance. This also saves management from the stress of resolving critical outages!
Why Choose RAM Communications as Your SD-WAN Consultant?
We serve not only as your consultant but your chief designer, contract negotiator, and installer of SD-WAN, so we are constantly engaged in some phase of SD-WAN service with our clients every business day. Our experience is key to bringing you the best and most productive network services. We’ve implemented wide area networks thousands of times over the last 20 years.
As a result, we know who the reliable and trustworthy service providers are, so we can pass on our experience to you. Your organization will save time, money, and human resources when you engage RAM for your network needs.