SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking) is the new buzzword in telecom. But what exactly, in simple terms, is it?
One of the leading companies defines it this way:
“a transformational approach to simplify branch office networking and assure optimal application performance… the underlying principle of which is to abstract the network hardware and transport characteristics from the applications that use the network.”
Is that helpful? Does that help you understand what is is and how it might “transform” your business?
Let’s look at it in simpler terms.
Networking is the packaging together of data into bundles (packets) and transporting those packets across a network. The networks we use most of the time are the Internet and the private networks within our homes or businesses.
The data that comprise applications input and output, emails, files, images, websites, and YouTube cat videos, are moving on these networks all the time. Data is then like cargo loaded in the back of a truck being driven between two points. And the trucks are rolling 24/7.
For businesses that need to move a lot of data between multiple locations create and manage their own Wide Area Networks (data connections between offices). Deploying a WAN for your enterprise is like sending trucks onto the highways between cities.
The cheapest and most freely available network to move your data is the Internet – which would be like using the public interstate highway system to transport your cargo by truck. But, like the freeway system, the Internet is rife with congestion and subject to disruption based on all kinds of forces out of your own control. Construction, accidents, bad information on routes, can all delay, disrupt, and even derail your data. This causes unreliability in knowing when your cargo is going to land on the other side of your wide area network (or insecurity that your data will arrive intact and unmolested). In data terms, this unreliability expresses itself as jitter, packet loss and down time.
Traditionally, the way around this problem has been for enterprises to build their own highway system using costly private carrier circuits (T-1’s, DS3’s, fiber and wireless direct links). Imagine paying to build roads only you can drive your trucks on! Sweet and complete control over your haulage but nightmarishly expensive.
For a hybrid solution, companies might instead invest in access to toll roads (like a carrier service called MPLS). Still expensive but at least it offers a level of reliability to the movement of cargo.
But what if you could use those inexpensive public networks but get the level of reliability that only comes with private networks?
SD-WAN could be the answer. It manages the routing of your traffic across multiple links as a software layer of service (independent of the physical network layer), always looks for the most-efficient link to route data, and can be ready at a moment’s notice to drive around problems.
So, SD-WAN is like GPS with auto traffic routing. Instead of expensive private connections (highways), you install two Internet connections (multiple freeway on-ramps) at each location on your Wide Area Network. The SD-WAN service then manages your data traffic to make sure that your cargo travels along the most efficient path (as well as allowing you to set rules to determine which data, which applications you share across a network, get priority when there is conflict or congestion).
With SD-WAN, The chances of disruption are greatly minimized. You practically eliminate packet delays and jitter. And, you can cut WAN costs to nothing more than the price of Internet connections and the service itself.
If you want to learn more or explore the options to deploy SD-WAN on your data network, contact me (use the form to the right of this article).
Steve Medcroft is the author of The Telecom Manager’s Survival Guide and a Senior Telecom Analyst at City Communications in Phoenix Arizona. City Communications procures and delivers best-in-class telephony and wide-area networking technology for businesses nationwide.
Get a Free Try & Buy.
It is really important that you have uninterrupted connections to the cloud and your customers. Get rid of interruptions and disruptions – within your company or with other important audiences. You should check this out.
How the SD Wan ‘Slam Dunk’ works.SD Wan automatically routes traffic across multiple connections and re-routes the traffic as conditions change so you have the best possible connection. Your network will utilize the best possible paths based on routing requirements and security needs in a way that increases efficiency and lowers costs.
When you only have one connection coming into your business or location – no back up – there is obviously only one point of success or failure for your network. You have to have SD Wan to get the fluid ‘magic’ that happens with this great technology. Even if you have more than one connection.
With SD Wan you can bond together up to four different connections to ensure that your business stays connected, up and running. It keeps your speed the best that it can be. Managing the WAN traditionally has been one of the most expensive and rigid aspects of running an enterprise network. It’s a slam dunk now by making use of programmable network devices. It can be modified remotely and through dynamic best-path routing. Both of which improve cost and agility.
Get a FREE 30-day Try & Buy.What you do is important enough to need SD Wan, so you should get a FREE consult and 30-day FREE Try and Buy.
First, click here to get more info. Then connect with a City Communications professional consultant. After you click through a simple technology audit, then you’ll have all the options and answers.
Check it out now.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a major government agency turned to City Communications and Windstream to get their contact center stood up as quickly as possible to help the people of Houston.
Thanks to an “all hands on deck” approach, City and Windstream were able to successfully stand up the Avaya contact center seatswithin 24 hours.
“We typically don’t need to set up call centers that quickly, but it is nice to know that we can in an emergency,”
said John Casas of City Communications.
The center will continue to support relief efforts for Harvey victims and potentially future disasters as well.
All incoming calls are not created equal. Some calls are more important than others. And, when you have Simultaneous Ring, the important calls get the attention they require.
Simultaneous Ring is a great solution. Someone on your team can respond immediately to each important call.
Simultaneous Ring – Calls Ring at Multiple Phones at the Same Time.It’s easy. In fact, Simultaneous Ring is set up free if you are a CityHosted customer. You simply input important customer and client phone numbers into your CityHosted™ system. Then, you set the priorities. You select the important numbers. That way, whoever is available first when a call comes in can pick up the call. It means you will deliver faster responses.
Simultaneous Ring is a great feature. When phones are spread out across a wide ares, it is really helpful. But it doesn’t matter where the phones are located. You control how many phones ring at once.
The Sales Manager’s phone will ring if she is in Buffalo. Your Sales Rep will also get the call down in Houston. The call will go to the company Customer Service hotline. And, you can have all important calls sent to your phone as backup.
You won’t lose a potential sale. You won’t miss inquiries from new prospects. So think of it like this. You are ‘copying’ your whole team on incoming calls. All the options are yours.
Simultaneous Ring is a FREE feature.The only technical requirement for this free service is an active CityHosted™ account. And of course, Simultaneous Ring is included in your services if you are a Virtual Call Center customer. You can learn more about Simultaneous Ring services here.
Want to learn more about Call Center environments? You can get more information about having a Virtual Call Center here. If your company is small, it’s a great way to play bigger. And, it’s a great way to extend your incoming call coverage.
You can probably utilize lots of other CityHosted™ services. So, you should get in touch with a City Communications Representative today.
Call 1-800-289-1828 right now. Your call is important.
Money doesn’t grow on trees (unfortunately)
We are a technology solutions provider. The customers we work with present us with challenges, new projects, or pain they are having in their technology, and we get the fun or helping them find and execute a solution. It is challenging work but super-rewarding. However, working directly with customers is not the most-important driver for our business. Our real mission is to be a support system for other technology business-people.
Simply put, we help IT and telecom professionals create multiple streams of recurring, residual income for themselves through the sales of CityHosted, network carrier services, and cloud-deployed technologies of all kinds. We want to enable people to build stable, ever-growing, long-term income rather than the quick hits of one-time profit, spiffs, or commissions companies usually pay. Almost all of the services and products we have available payout profit or commissions on the monthly costs their customers pay for the services.
We believe strongly that we exist to help people build income stability, and freedom, so we built the City system to allow access to a robust portfolio of products and negotiate all our vendor agreements to get the best, longest-term payouts for our dealers. That access is gained by becoming a dealer for City. Our dealer program is a ready-made business model for independent technology professionals. A prospective dealer just needs to plug themself into our system and feed it opportunity to build their long-term residual income.
What kind of success can you model?
When we meet with people for the first time, one of the most common questions is “Can this work for me?” Building a technology-solutions/referral business is an excellent way for some technology professionals to build long-term residual income, but it is not a perfect for everyone. It has to align with your core business. It has to make sense. Below are a few types of technology professionals that are well-suited for the City model.
City Communications is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. We offer fully-managed Voice over IP telephone systems for business, carrier services, telecom management, and sales, installation and support for over a hundred cloud-based communications products and services. We offer a dealer program that allows technology professionals to create long-term residual income from the sales of all the products in our portfolio. Contact us for more information.
Working with strategic customers in your territory
Who is your largest and best-paying customer? Do you want more of those? Would you like one that is double that size? Ten times that size? A hundred times that size? Let me introduce you to City Care.
When we look at our customer base (the customers we serve on behalf of our dealers and agents), the majority are small-to-mid-size businesses (SMB). These are good business for us. They need what we sell and in aggregate, provide our dealers and agents with healthy revenue. But there are a handful of Most Valuable Players in our portfolio, Enterprise accounts who need tons of carrier and network services.
Enterprise customers demand a lot, but in return give our dealers their most-rewarding business relationshsips. These accounts are so good that as well building a healthy SMB business, we spend some time focused purely on landing Enterprise customers. We want to help you do the same.
The 250-year old telecom veteranOur primary mission is to help you bring telecom services to your customers; to support you with a product portfolio that pays, sales help that closes, and post-sales support that makes your customers appreciate you. To do this, we’ve built a team of a dozen or so staffers, each dedicated to one piece of this mission. Besides the three partners, we have sales specialists, technical and support staff, provisioning and carrier service staff, and product-specialists.
We are all telecom veterans. Before coming to City, we had all worked 15 or more years for carriers, manufacturers, or as telecom managers. Together, we account for over 250-years of experience in every aspect of telecom – negotiating agreements, managing services, designing high-end contact centers, and installing and running every kind of system from tiny key systems to carrier switches.
As a team, we have a high level of success in building a long-term customer base in partnership with our dealers and agents. Our best work comes when we serve the ideal customer outlined at the top of this post; a customer one that let’s us take care of all their telecom services, that sees our team as an extension of their company, that uses their telecom department.
Large, complex customers spend tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars per month of telecom network and infrastructure. They may employ dedicated telecom staff but more often, the responsibility for telecom has been rolled into the IT department or chopped into pieces and handed to management, accounting, or other internal staff. Knowing that it is a complex job to provisioning and project manage telecom networks, oversee installation and maintenance of ever-more-complicated communications systems, and stay on top of carrier agreements and bills, they need the kind of help we can give.
The bag of tricks we call City CareTargeted at this specific kind of customer, we developed a boutique telecom-management service we call City Care. We act as a single source for all telecommunications design, planning, procurement, project management, contract negotiation, billing audit, troubleshooting, and problem resolution. It works because when someone contracts us for City Care, we then place all orders for them related to the products and services in our portfolio.
Find a customer we can contract with to manage all aspects of their telecom is a great way to open a door that otherwise might be closed to you. City Care puts us inside the biggest customers in a territory, working on the customer side of the table, serving them with our expertise and knowledge?
City Care by the numbers
Do you have a City Care candidate in your territory?Again, the best candidate for this customized service is a larger enterprise where IT has control/responsibility for the network (carrier services, billing, telecom infrastructure, wide-area network, etc.). A great example is an Arizona-based customer we serve. They are a rapidly growing internet company who sells used cars directly to consumers. Their growth demands constant new carrier connections. Their rapid-growth also requires they focus on advancing the technology they run their business on and they need to outsource the professional discipline of telecom management. We serve as their outsource telecom-management department, under the direction of the IT staff.
Work with your channel manager to identify a list of target companies in your territory that might be a propect for City Care. Let’s work together to develop a relationship with that customer and set yourselves up for the most lucrative long-term customer in your portfolio.
We often come across situations where business people need to call customers back but they aren’t in the office and they don’t want to have their private cell phone number displaying to the customer. One of the solutions that we frequently use is our Accession feature with CityHosted. Accession allows you to make and receive calls while appearing as if you are sitting at your desk. It is perfect for technicians, sales people, and executives.
"I need to call a customer back but don’t want them to have my personal cell phone number."
Contact us today to learn how you can get this feature for you business.
Do you need two Internet connections to benefit from SD-WAN?
When installing VeloCloud’s Software-Defined Wider-Area Networking (SD-WAN), the standard practice is that there be at least two data connections at a customer site. The VeloCloud Edge appliance that VeloCloud that provide their subscription service actively monitors data links in real time, detects problems, and can apply self-healing algorithms to correct and mitigate latency, packet loss, and jitter. VeloCloud assures also us that the service works best when there is at least one alternate route to route data away from a corrupted link.So we always recommend two data connections to support a VeloCloud SD-WAN installation, but early we also wondered; could the service help a customer who had only one Internet connection? We got our chance to answer that question when one of our City Hosted customers (who is stuck in a neighborhood with only one ISP) began experiencing voice-quality problems.
Depending on cloud applications when internet access is limitedThe Scottsdale Airpark (a business park in Scotsdale, Arizona near the City offices) is a notoriously poor location when it comes to choice of Internet providers. Your choices are Cox, Cox, and Cox (unless you want to go back to dial-up or bring in some low bit-rate 4G hotspot or satellite rig). Don’t misunderstand me, Cox is a perfectly fine ISP (please don’t cut my house off from high-speed Internet, I am still not finished with Project Runway, season ten), but their network model is built on shared service loops. Meaning that when you connect to Cox’s data network, you are running across a neighborhood wiring loop that you share with everyone else in the neighborhood.
In Scottsdale Airpark in particular (which is extremely dense with businesses), the demand for high-speed Internet has outpaced Cox’s plans for expansion. It is common for customers to experience congestion and degradation during peak usage times.
Our City Hosted phone system depends on stable Internet connectivity to run. When there is latency, jitter, or packet loss on the Internet connection, the phone service can experience delays, one-way audio, or dropped calls. We’re a phone-service provider for goodness sakes. The oversubscription of Internet access in the Airpark was creating this problem for our customer. Adding a second Internet connection was not an option. So we tried SD-WAN on a single link to see if it could help with the problem.
Bringing SD-WAN into the City product portfolioIn case you need a primer, we started offering Velocloud SD-WAN two years ago. Velocloud is the world’s leading SD-WAN provider. Their SD-WAN is a service that, when deployed at the edges of a customer’s Wide-Area Network (WAN), provides management of Wide-Area Network traffic. It does this by monitoring all data connections on the WAN, remediating (correcting) problems (like jitter, delay and packet loss), and optimizing traffic based on business policies determined by the customer.
The service is designed to work using two or more Internet (or private data) links connected to each branch. Having an alternate path to route traffic when one link is experiencing degradation is a cornerstone of the technology. The promise of the service is that for customers who buy into business-critical cloud-delivered services (hosted phone systems, CRM, Point of Sale systems), SD-WAN allows them to use inexpensive and quick-to-source broadband Internet instead of private networks or carrier-proprietary MPLS service.
We tested VeloCloud first on ourselves. We use our own City Hosted phone system. 18-months ago, we would experience the kind of intermittent voice and service quality issues that at the least embarrassed us, at the worst cost us time and money and lost opportunity. At the time, we ran the business on a Century Link DSL (100Mb up and 20 Mb down). We were using a SimpleWAN appliance to optimize our data traffic as best we could, but still had problems. We installed a second Internet connection (a 5mb up and 800k down Cox cable link) and installed the SD-WAN. It went in with their default data optimization profile and the results still amaze me to this day.
In 18-months, we have not had a single complaint about voice quality from either an employee or someone calling into our office. With an active call running across the DSL, we were able to physically unplug the Century Link service and the SD-WAN appliance moved the call to the other link (the call does not drop). And not only does it not drop, it is barely interrupted when the handoff takes place. The VeloCloud Edge device gives us rich reporting and monitoring data about the status of our Internet connections. The reporting proved to us that each link experiences multiple minor failures (packet, jitter, latency, even going completely out of service) weekly. But the SD-WAN is able to deliver 100% up-time and clean connectivity with no disruption. Like I said, amazing.
Throwing VeloCloud at the Scottsdale Airpark problemOur Airpark customer with City Hosted phone issues and only one Internet connection really put the VeloCloud SD-WAN to the test. We had a single, buggy link that was absolutely messing up our beautiful phone service and pissing off our customer. So we installed the SD-WAN appliance and again, we accepted the box’s default parameters (which are optimized for voice). Then we waited.
Oh, it worked (in case there was any suspense in what the punchline of this story would be). Call quality issues dropped to negligible. We were able to see in the Velocloud’s reporting exactly when the Cox link degraded to sub-optimal performance and exactly what the box did to correct for it. And we could see that it raised the Internet connections MOS score by about 20% (enough to stave off the nastiest call-dropping errors). In all, we saved a customer and protected them from whatever consequences there would be to their business by having crappy phone calls.
If you want to learn more about this experience, or about SD-WAN in general, we feel like we have a real-world handle on the technology. If you’re a dealer or an agent for City, contact your Channel Manager. If you’re customer or someone experience this problem who just wants to learn more about SD-WAN, call our sales line or email me directly and I’ll connect you with someone who can help.
The City Communications Partner Portal is your main resource for product supportOur primary mission is to help you bring telecom services to your customers; to support you with a rich product portfolio and consultative sales assistance that helps you win customers and post-sales support that makes them stick with you. When you become a dealer or an agent, we do everything we can to support you, including giving you exclusive access to our Partner Page.
The Partner page is our main repository of product information and sales tools for our dealers and agents. It contains links to the people inside City that you need to know, access to the pricing and quoting tools you’ll need to put out proposals, and current, relevant product information on everything in our portfolio.
If you haven’t already, sign up for a password and log in to the partner page. Here’s what you’ll find there:
Staff Directory for instant access to your support team:
Even though you have a dedicated Channel Manager who is your primary contact with City, we understand that closing new business or keeping a customer happy sometimes means you need help right now. One way you can find that help is by using the Partner Page staff directory.
The City team consists of a dozen or so staffers, each dedicated to different areas of the business; sales, technical support, customer service, billing and accounting, etc. We are all technology veterans. Almost everyone of the team has worked 15 or more years for carriers, manufacturers, as telecom managers, or as independent technology specialists. Together, we account for over 250-years of experience in every aspect of technology – negotiating agreements, managing services, designing high-end contact centers, installing and running every kind of system from tiny key systems to carrier switches (and so on).
Located first in the Partner Page, the directory of City staff includes a brief paragraph about each person’s role within the company.
The tools you need to produce quotes and close sales:
As a dealer or agent, you have access to various quoting and margin calculators to help you price our City Hosted cloud-based phone system or SD-WAN. Rather than email you spreadsheets or ask you to manage separate links our Socket quoting tool, we provide access to all quoting and calculators in the Partner Page.
Product pages that are ready with information and guidance to help you make sales:The main function of the Partner Page is to serve as your central repository for all of the products in your City portfolio. As new products roll into the portfolio, we’ll add them here. As the suppliers revise and improve their products, we’ll update this page.
The main portfolio section displays a logo for each product by name. Click the link and you’ll be redirected to the product page for that portfolio item. Each portfolio page contains a written overview of the product, guidance on identifying the right kind of customer for that product, information on how to get sales help or post-sales support, and notes on the vendor(s) and commission payouts.
Additional information on the Partner Page:Besides the three main sections, the Partner Page also contains customer sales and training videos, email templates to help you market the products in our portfolio, and links to our latest blog articles.
As always, contact you Channel Manager with questions, help getting a login to the Partner Page, or sales support. Or feel free to reach out to any of us for any reason. You can access the Partner Page at this link.
Email me if there’s more you’d like to see in our Partner Page.