Humphreys Replaces SD-WAN Appliances with Cato Cloud

When Humphreys & Partners Architects, an architectural services firm, needed to open an office in Uruguay, the Dallas-based firm faced a problem all too familiar to MPLS buyers — the high cost and inflexibility of MPLS.  

The company’s MPLS network already connected the Dallas headquarters with offices in New Orleans, Garland, Texas, and Toronto. Another office in Vietnam relied on file sharing and transfer to move data across the Internet to Dallas.

The new office in Uruguay proved to be a challenge. Humphrey’s MPLS provider proposed an international connection at the same price as his existing Dallas connection with only a 30th (approximately) of the capacity. “It was a take-it-or-leave-it kind of deal — so we left it,” says Paul Burns, IT Director at Humphreys.

Pricing might have been the tipping point for Burns, but it was hardly his only complaint with MPLS.  Connecting new locations took far too long, with circuit delivery requiring several months. “Ninety days doesn’t fly anymore when a site is just two or three people in a garage, and DSL can be delivered in a day or two,” Burns points out.

What’s more, MPLS wasn’t agile enough to accommodate Humphreys’ growth. “Many of our offices start with a few people, but then they outgrow the space. Every time we moved, our carrier wanted a three-year contract and 90 days to get the circuit up and running.”  

Even simple network changes, like adding static routes to a router, necessitated submitting change tickets to the MPLS provider. To make matters worse, the carrier team responsible for those changes was based in Europe. “Not only did the carrier require 24 hours, but often the process involved waking me in the middle of the night,” Burns says.

MPLS inflexibility hurt more than the business; it hurt Burns’ reputation. “I once sat in an executive meeting and learned that we were moving an office,” he recalls. “I explained to the other executives (again) that the move would take at least 90 days. They just looked at me like I was crazy.”

SD-WAN Appliances Prove To Be Too Complicated

Burns needed a different approach and tried solving Humphreys’ networking problems with SD-WAN appliances. He connected SD-WAN appliances in the Uruguay location, and as well as a new Denver office, via the Internet. SD-WAN appliances in Dallas; Newport Beach, California; and Orlando were dual connected to the Internet and MPLS.

The SD-WAN appliances could not address his Vietnam office and deployment  proved to be very complicated. “The configuration pages of the SD-WAN appliance were insane. I’ve never seen anything so complicated,” says Burns. “Even the sales engineer got confused and accidentally enabled traffic shaping, limiting our 200 Mbits/s Internet line to 20 Mbits/s.”

Ultimately, Burns abandoned the SD-WAN appliance architecture. To learn more about his experience and how Cato Cloud revolutionized his WAN in surprising ways, read the complete case study here.