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How does Blackfoot deploy SD-WAN?

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Business Challenge

JCCS, a leading CPA firm with six locations across Montana, was looking for a cost-effective network solution to meet their demands for bandwidth and reliability. They were in need of added security and redundant circuits to their data center and the public internet.

The firm has a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and they rely on a high-speed data connection for every business function. JCCS had outgrown the capabilities of their existing internet service provider (ISP) and were looking to increase their level of network service reliability utilizing multiple internet connection types. To help solve for these issues, JCCS sent an RFP to four regional and national ISPs.

"The reality is that network downtime impacts on our business could cost tens of thousands of dollars a day."

– Victor Lombardo, IT Manager, JCCS

Our Solution

SD-WAN Devices
Virtual Servers
VDI Machines

Blackfoot proposed a managed software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution to create cost efficiencies, prioritize applications based on company policies and quickly add new sites as needed. This hybrid solution would provide a redundant MPLS circuit for mission-critical traffic and leverage a commodity circuit for non-critical traffic.

For deployment, Blackfoot installed seven SD-WAN devices for JCCS – one at each of their six business locations across Montana and one as a hub site in Missoula. Blackfoot’s MPLS network supports their 120 VDI machines and 50 virtual servers. And as a result of their virtual infrastructure, JCCS doesn’t need a lot of on-premise network equipment. Their few physical servers are housed on a half-rack in Blackfoot’s carrier-grade data center.

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Blackfoot’s network engineers worked directly with the JCCS team to develop the managed SD-WAN solution, taking a forward-thinking approach to accommodate future needs. Blackfoot helped JCCS define policies for how network traffic would be routed. Critical traffic, which includes running VDI and deploying VoIP, is routed via Blackfoot MPLS circuits. Meanwhile, traffic that is not latency sensitive, such as print jobs or large scans uploaded to the network, utilizes a local coax cable commodity circuit.

By defining traffic rules, Blackfoot technicians can proactively monitor the performance of the network and modify application flow based on the prioritization rules. This ability to adjust the network to meet business needs in near real-time is a key benefit of the managed SD-WAN solution. In addition, SD-WAN enables a secure connection over the public internet, which is typically achieved via a private MPLS connection. However, SD-WAN technology creates a VPN tunnel between the site devices and the hub device to provide a secure connection over the public internet.

The Result

Blackfoot’s managed SD-WAN solution enabled JCCS to prioritize key business applications, optimize bandwidth utilization and manage costs. Latency sensitive traffic uses a high-quality MPLS circuit, while the remaining traffic routes over a commodity circuit.

JCCS also gained insights into their bandwidth usage. The managed SD-WAN solution provides increased visibility into the underlying traffic, which led to identifying VDI as the primary source of bandwidth demand. And as a result, Blackfoot increased the capacity of three MPLS circuits to optimize performance.

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