Architecting a Hybrid Network: The Perfect Blend of Old and New

by Jeff Lowney
March 13, 2019

It’s no secret that technology is changing faster than even the fleetest organization can keep up. At the same time, it’s easy to say that anything considered ‘old’ needs to be cast into the obsolescence trash heap and replaced with the ‘latest and greatest’ even if the current technology continues to meet most of the needs of the business. Today, customers have options for mixing old and new in ways that can extend the life of older technology, even boosting their performance in the process.

Think of a young family living comfortably in their home. When they find out there’s another child on the way, the first thought is the need for more space. Do they move, or can they update their current home and still get what they need for their growing family? After weighing their options, they decide to add on to the house, so they can stay in the home they know. Either solution will work—but loving an existing home with an addition and renovations is often preferred to listing it to partially finance a more significant investment elsewhere.

Architecting a hybrid network with SD-WAN and existing technology

Cracks in the foundation

A similar choice of ‘replace or remodel’ faced Goodwyn Mills and Cawood (GMC), a multistate architecture and engineering firm with offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Collaboration and shared resources are key to delivering on their vision of “building better, happier, healthier, thriving communities.” When the technology they relied upon failed to provide the necessary connectivity for the company’s 400+ employees in 16 different offices, GMC knew that they needed a solution fast.

GMC’s decision was complicated for several reasons including a loosely-integrated, multi-location network that consisted of different technologies from multiple providers. MPLS and cable networks provided VPN connections for ten small offices to headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. Network performance was frequently impaired because of routing issues and IPS tunnels. Worse yet, network outages—combined with a lack of diversity and redundancy—had huge impacts on employee productivity.

Goodwyn Mills and Cawood (GMC)

In with the new—and old

Given their needs and existing infrastructure, it was clear that migrating their data applications to the cloud would solve many of the most pressing problems for the firm—if the network issues could be resolved. With SD-WAN, GMC could eliminate the complexity their IT team faced every day while adding accessibility and security. An SD‑WAN solution offered a compelling return on investment because it could be added “over the top” of their existing investments in MPLS and cable networks to create a hybrid WAN. Operationally, SD-WAN was compelling because limited IT resources could execute network changes on their own timeline.

Form matches function

Since implementing a managed SD-WAN solution, the firm has experienced more network stability, greater bandwidth and uptime, and visibility into their network performance.  Companywide, employees have noticed the difference in network performance resulting in 30-40% fewer trouble tickets. Productivity has improved because employees can consistently access data faster with higher speeds and more network uptime. Thanks to cloud storage, employees can access files more securely and efficiently.

Today, GMC has the best of both worlds: they are still reaping rewards from existing network investments while enjoying a boost from SD-WAN to enhance operational efficiency and make room for future growth. You can learn more about GMC’s success with SD-WAN here.