Manufacturing Company Fixes Skype for Business, Simplified Mobile Access with Cato

Cloud Datacenter Integration
Mobile Access Optimization
quotes“I opened my Cato console and could see that there was packet loss on the line. The ISP, of course, denied that there was anything wrong with the line. So I sent them the graphs from the Cato console. The ISP fixed the problem, and that was that.”

MPLS Bandwidth Limitations Cripple Application Performance

Like many companies, a manufacturer of high-strength fibers, long depended on a global MPLS network. The service connected the company headquarters in Arnhem, Netherlands with two factories in the Netherlands, and five sales offices worldwide.

But application requirements and customers needs were increasingly becoming incompatible with traditional MPLS. Unified Communications (UC) struggled across the network. “I couldn’t use Skype for Business to chat with a colleague of mine in our Sao Paulo office,” says the company’s IT architect. “I wouldn’t be able to see him, and voice quality would be awful.”

And because the UC experience was so poor, “Senior management had to fly all over the world just to talk to people,” he says.

The problem? Bandwidth pricing. Most sites could only justify 2 Mbits/s and 4 Mbits/s MPLS connections with slightly larger capacities in Germany (10 Mbits/s) and the Netherlands (20 Mbits/s).

Beyond the lack of bandwidth, though, the IT architect found MPLS last-mile uptime to be a problem at some remote locations. “We always knew when it rained in Sao Paulo, Brazil because the MPLS connection would drop for a day or two, and sometimes even two weeks.”

Troubleshooting the remote locations was complicated by the lack of visibility. “MPLS is a black box. If something went wrong on the WAN, I wasn’t able to see what happened. I had to call our provider and maybe within two or three months I’d have an answer,” says the IT architect.

As for mobile access, salespeople needed corporate resources access from the road, something beyond MPLS’s scope. Forcing mobile users to connect first to a Microsoft Direct Access server before accessing the enterprise network meant latency became a killer. “Salespeople will be sitting in a hotel trying to log-on. It would take them 10 to 15 minutes to connect and another half-an-hour to receive their e-mail.”

Cato’s Ease and Performance: Perfect Match for Sales Collaboration

The IT architect needed a solution that would address both constituencies — R&D and sales that wanted “all the new stuff to collaborate and the cloud” and the factories that only wanted one thing — a stable network.

Through his partner, IP Knowledge, he started looking at a leading WAN acceleration solution to improve his MPLS performance. But then the conversation partner took an unexpected course.

“My contact showed me his mobile device running the Cato mobile client. I asked him, ‘How quickly can you connect?’ And he pushed the button on the screen and was connected to the Cato Cloud. That’s what sold me,” says the IT architect. “Now that’s something my users traveling all over the world want.”

Cato’s MPLS-Like Stability and Performance Was Critical For Factory Users

The IT architect still needed to ensure that Cato performance and stability met his factories’ requirements. “If the connections between our factories fail, production is impaired immediately. One hour of production loss costs 80,000 euros. That’s not an option,” he says.

To find out, he ran a Proof of Concept (POC), deploying Cato Sockets, Cato’s zero-touch SD-WAN device, at several locations. The Sockets send all Internet and WAN traffic automatically to the nearest Cato Point of Presence (PoPs). The PoP software routes traffic to the Internet or along the optimum path across Cato’s global, SLA-backed backbone.

“Cato’s connection quality was good enough and almost matched MPLS’s 100 percent uptime. Of course, we benefited in many other ways as well,” says the IT architect.

Great Cloud Performance Matches the Company’s Cloud-First Strategy

One of those ways was cloud performance. During his evaluation process, the company’s cloud strategy shifted 180 degrees, moving from “no cloud” to “cloud first.” Servers were moved to Microsoft Azure in part because “The physical datacenters in our factories had a UPS, but there was no fire extinguisher and stuff like that,” he says. The company also adopted Office 365, Salesforce, and SAP Hana.

With Cato, cloud resources and mobile users share the WAN with sites. Many Cato PoPs sit in the same physical datacenters as the entry points to Microsoft Azure (and Amazon AWS). Optimized algorithms steer cloud traffic across the Cato backbone to the PoP closest to the company’s IaaS or SaaS instance.

It was something that neither MPLS or the public Internet could match. Accessing the cloud across MPLS would mean a drastic network redesign and the purchase of far more MPLS bandwidth. As for the global Internet, performance would prove untenable.

“Our Office 365 tenant was in Amsterdam so access from global locations probably wouldn’t work,” he says. “Offices in China would have a particularly difficult time as traffic goes through the Great Firewall, which adds 150 ms of latency on top of what you’re doing.” In addition, some of the company’s learning and development services would be unreachable from the Brazilian and Indian offices as the sites block all traffic from outside of Europe.

Realizing 30% Cost Savings and 20x Bandwidth Increase With Cato

The IT architect decided to migrate his locations to Cato. He deployed Cato Sockets at his sites and expanded their Internet connections. “I had about 20 Mbits/s in Arnhem, and now with Cato, we have 500 Mbits/s, and in Delfzijl, and Ermn will have 250 Mbits/s.” And at his remote sites? “It’s like 20-times more,” he says.

At the same time, though, he’s reduced his bandwidth spend. “We’re saving about 30 percent in costs and could have been more had our ISPs been allowed to sell us consumer-grade Internet.”

With more capacity and Cato’s optimized backbone, all applications perform better. Worldwide, users have fast, reliable access to cloud and Internet resources from across the globe. “Our head of sales no longer has to make his annual visit to the sales offices. Now he talks with the salespeople every month via Skype for Business.”

As for mobile users, gone are the wait times. Like the Cato Socket, the Cato Mobile Client automatically sends mobile traffic to the nearest Cato PoP and from there along the optimum path to the destination.

The IT architect has also found that Cato’s management console improved his visibility into the network, enhancing his troubleshooting capabilities. “Initially in our deployment, users at the factory complained about their SAP sessions disconnecting and problems with the video conferencing equipment,” he says.

With Insights chart

With Cato, the company has deep insight into the entire WAN

“I opened my Cato console and could see that there was packet loss on the line. When I called the ISP and asked them about it, they, of course, denied that there was anything wrong with the line. So I sent them the graphs from the Cato console. The ISP fixed the problem, and that was that.”

Cato: Rock Solid Across The Globe — And The Last Mile

The load-balancing capabilities of the Cato Socket now protect the company against last mile failures. His factories will have three Internet connections — two fiber connections and a point-to-point wireless connection.

Network topology graph

Mobile users and cloud resources also share the WAN with physical sites.

And as for that office in Sao Paulo? Rainstorms are no longer an issue. Thanks to Cato and redundant Internet connections. “Our Sao Paulo office now has the best uptime of any of our sites,” says the IT architect.

Prior to coming to Cato, a producer of high-strength, industrial fibers had an MPLS network that connected the main office (Arnhem, Netherlands) with two factories in the Netherlands (Delfzijl and Ermn), the main sales office (Germany), and remote sales offices (Brazil, China, India, and the US). All offices had local Internet breakout secured by a firewall. The company’s network connected 1,500 users, 600 of which accessed company resources remotely by first connecting to Microsoft Direct Access servers at one of five company sites.
The company’s application mix consisted of several SMB-based applications, such as Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint. The company relied on SAP for ERP, and Skype for Business and a Mitel PBX for communications. All applications ran across the MPLS network.