Eastern Industrial Supplies boosts application performance tenfold while reducing monthly WAN edge costs by over 10 percent with Unity EdgeConnect
Across the southeast United States, building construction and infrastructure projects are booming. Core components to the physical infrastructure— like pipes, valves, and fittings—are in high demand. And keeping these projects on track is Eastern Industrial Supplies.
Eastern provides a comprehensive range of offthe-shelf and specialty industrial products, with a faith-guided corporate culture that promotes values like listening thoughtfully and always acting with care and honesty. It’s an approach that has driven steady growth from its humble beginnings in Greenville, South Carolina to a network of 19 facilities spanning six states.
Growth, however, has brought challenges. Just ask IT director, Josh Page. When Page came onboard 15 years ago, the company was trying to add a new branch location every couple of years. But the cost and complexity of outfitting a branch with edge infrastructure became untenable.
Page explains, “Opening a new location typically cost $9,000 or $10,000 for the phone system and about that much again for network equipment, plus computers. It was expensive, and maintenance was a burden. Just moving a phone was excruciating.”
Solving network performance problems with the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform
One early remedy was moving to a Cisco voice over IP (VoIP) phone system. This lowered costs somewhat, but came with latency and jitter problems that users simply put up with. Page then brought in an MPLS-based wide area network (WAN); however, the local provider couldn’t offer bandwidth throughput over 512 Kbps.
“With voice, data, and internet all funneling through our corporate data center, everything was over-subscribed,” says Page. “There were always issues with speed, so we had to do something.”
The last thing you want is a dropped call when you’re on the phone with a customer. We get excellent voice quality over the EdgeConnect SD-WAN. Between consolidating on EdgeConnect and rolling out SIP trunking, we’ve reduced our monthly spend for the branch edge by $400 to $800 per location.
— Josh Page, IT Director, Eastern Industrial Supplies, Inc.
After learning about software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) through online media and forums, Page decided to explore it further. He evaluated several SD-WAN vendors, including Riverbed and Cisco. Then local IT partner, Veristor, introduced Page to Silver Peak and the Unity EdgeConnectTM SD-WAN edge platform.
“With most vendors we would have needed a separate firewall, router, and SD-WAN device at each branch,” Page notes. “EdgeConnect could do it all in a single platform. That was a big selling point for us.”
Seeing the advantages of a unified WAN edge, Page worked with Veristor to test the EdgeConnect platform at one of Eastern’s sites. Most locations had a commercial internet connection that generally sat idle, available for backup but rarely used because of the manual effort involved. For the test, they built tunnels across the MPLS link and that internet circuit to see how the Cisco CallManager performed.
Page describes the result like this: “It was night and day. The big issue we worried about was voice quality. Through EdgeConnect, it was off the charts. That made it a no brainer.”
In fact, during testing Page says that they ended up turning off the MPLS link because it was slowing down the network. This opened everyone’s eyes to how much more performance an internet-only SD-WAN would deliver at much lower cost than MPLS.
Delivers assured quality of service over broadband
Today, Page has the EdgeConnect platform deployed across all 19 Eastern facilities, each terminated with one broadband circuit and one commercial internet circuit, or LTE in a few remote locations. MPLS has been eliminated altogether. Eastern also takes advantage of the unified routing interoperability and stateful zone-based firewall on the EdgeConnect platform to eliminate the need for dedicated routers and firewalls at each branch location. In addition, the EdgeConnect platform is service chained with Zscaler to inspect and verify security of internet-bound traffic.
With EdgeConnect, critical applications like VoIP get assured quality of service over broadband, and core applications like Epicor Eclipse—the company’s all-in-one solution for inventory management, accounting, supply chain logistics, customer relationship management, etc.—benefit from the optional Unity BoostTM WAN optimization capability to accelerate performance.
Application performance improved tenfold while lowering costs
Building an all-internet SD-WAN with EdgeConnect is enabling Page to now transform Eastern’s phone system. Instead of expensive phone systems at each branch, Page is moving all locations to a SIP trunk at corporate headquarters, using the internet to deliver voice services to each branch location at a fraction of the cost of the Cisco VoIP system. This was made possible by having assured quality of service enabled by EdgeConnect.
“The last thing you want is a dropped call when you’re on the phone with a customer,” Page points out. “We get excellent voice quality over the EdgeConnect SD-WAN. Between consolidating on EdgeConnect and rolling out SIP trunking, we’ve reduced our monthly spend for the branch edge by $400 to $800 per location.”
Since building its SD-WAN with EdgeConnect, Page has seen available bandwidth increase from a best case scenario of 1.5 Mbps to an average of 100 Mbps at most sites, with some sites as high as 200 Mbps. With higher bandwidth and Boost performance acceleration, application performance has improved tenfold. User complaints about speed have all but disappeared. And workarounds to move large files are no longer needed.
Page remarks, “I used to use a repository tool to put large files in locally every night because there was no way to send them across our network during working hours due to our bandwidth limitations. We couldn’t possibly copy over a 400 MB file. People just had to wait until we put it in the repository the night before. Now, since having EdgeConnect, we can copy a 2 GB file from headquarters to a branch in a couple minutes. That’s just a bonus on top of everything else.”
Worry-free wide-area network
Another benefit of the EdgeConnect SD-WAN platform is increased visibility and control of WAN traffic. Page says the granular insight provided by Unity OrchestratorTM makes it easy to see the packet-level traffic flows for each application, and get a complete picture in one place rather than go through multiple interfaces for different devices. But most of the time, the EdgeConnect SD-WAN simply operates without much hands-on attention.
“It’s nice to not worry about WAN issues,” Page reflects. “It just works. We might have a circuit go down at a site, but nobody notices because EdgeConnect fails over to the other circuit instantly. Most of the week we don’t even have to look at the network.”
He concludes, “I don’t know why everyone hasn’t moved to SD-WAN. It’s so awesome.”
For more information on Silver Peak and our solutions, please visit: silver-peak.com
Eastern Industrial Supplies, Inc. is a full-line distributor of pipe, valves, fittings, and commercial plumbing products. The company also specializes in valve automation and pipe fabrication. Established in 1980 in Greenville, South Carolina, Eastern is independently owned and operated, with 19 facilities across South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. Eastern is a faith-guided business, honoring the values of honesty, integrity, caring, self-responsibility, and being positive.
Overcome network bandwidth limitations impeding voice quality and application performance, and reduce the high cost of opening and operating branch locations
Deploy the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform at 19 facilities, replacing MPLS with dual, bonded broadband links at each site, retiring branch routers and firewalls by consolidating on EdgeConnect, service chaining with Zscaler to inspect and verify the security of internet-bound traffic, and implementing the Unity Boost WAN optimization performance pack to accelerate key applications
- Reduced monthly spend on branch infrastructure by thousands of dollars
- Increased available bandwidth from 1.5 Mbps to 100 Mbps on average
- Delivered high quality voice over broadband
- Improved application performance tenfold
- Reduced the time to transfer large files from hours to minutes
- Simplified WAN edge administration while gaining greater visibility and control