- VMware SD-WAN improved Hughes remote employee connectivity by 60%
- Clear diagnosis enabled telco provider to escalate issues
- Simple, easy-to-install tools enhanced the user experience
“You can clearly see there is almost a 60 percent improvement in performance after SD-WAN, compared to before SD-WAN.”
In early 2020, when offices around the world suddenly had to send millions of employees to work from home, some enterprises were more prepared for the transition than others. Global managed services provider Hughes was able to use its experience as a VMware SD-WAN™ partner to help its customers, and some of its employees, get more out of their home-office connections.
Prior to the pandemic, Hughes had already begun laying the groundwork to deploy VMware SD-WAN, part of VMware SASE™, with its customers. “We had been doing a lot of work with the platform in our labs and locally,” said Mike Tippets, VP of Enterprise Marketing & Organizational Development at Hughes. “When the work-from-home requirement hit, our VMware sales and engineering contacts mentioned that they had a work-from-home program using VMware SD-WAN and would be happy to help our customers try it.” Hughes originally evaluated and tested the solution with customers’ work-from-home employees, and quickly realized that the solution would resolve some of its own employees’ connectivity problems.
“We started asking folks at Hughes about who was having trouble with home networks, who’s not able to work effectively, who can’t access all of their enterprise tools,” said Tippets. “VMware responded to our needs very quickly. Within a week and a half, we had the SD-WAN boxes we needed, for our customers and ourselves. We got the equipment out to everyone, they were able to plug them in, and the solution just worked.”
No tech support necessary
Randy Anders, VP of North American Sales at Hughes, described his own experiences with the pivot. “I lived out in a rural area, with a bunch of homes that are all on the same cable,” said Anders. “There were no other options. Everyone was sharing the same bandwidth with their kids and everyone else in the house. I just couldn’t work.” Anders called on Pranav Kondala, Hughes Principal Solutions Architect, to help him figure out a solution.
Luckily the solution was right at hand. “Pranav sent me this beautiful thing called a VMware SD-WAN Edge, with a Cradlepoint 4G backup. Now, I’m not technical. So, I called Pranav and said, I know we’re in a pandemic, but who’s coming to help me with this? He said, you are,” Anders recalled with a laugh. “But I was able to set it up, and it worked very well. I was able to use Microsoft Teams for video calls, even with two kids taking classes from home. I was able to get way more done.” When Anders moved to a new house, he simply disconnected the VMware SD-WAN Edge at one location and plugged it in at the other, “and within five minutes I was back online again. Those were two very good outcomes.”
The proof is in the Orchestrator
Tim Tang, Hughes Director of Enterprise Solutions, shared his own experiences working at home with VMware SD-WAN in a LinkedIn article. Tang had five kids in online school, and with a newly upgraded 100 Mbps Verizon FiOS connection, he thought the family wouldn’t have any problems. He was wrong. “Several times, I was kicked off in the middle of a conference (with a customer!) and had to reconnect,” Tang recalled. “The kids were similarly complaining about having to reconnect into their classrooms. We had no choice but to start taking turns using the Internet.”
Once Tang had a VMware SD-WAN Edge with 4G backup in hand, he was able to use the VMware SASE Orchestrator to see that both his fiber and cellular connections were experiencing problems. In the article, he noted that SD-WAN was able to give them much better speeds despite packet loss. VMware SD-WAN uses forward error correction (FEC) to remediate poor-quality links. VMware Dynamic Multipath Optimization™ automatically applies FEC on single or multiple links, choosing the best path even in conditions where connections are poor. The whole family was back online again — at the same time.
Once Tang had visual confirmation, he was able to show his provider that there were issues with both links. “It’s one thing to ‘tell’ Verizon you have packet loss,” Tang wrote. “It’s quite another to ‘show’ them the packet loss!”
Measured connection improvements with VMware SD-WAN
Pranav Kondala shared some analytics from Hughes employees’ connection quality from their home offices, both before and after they had VMware SD-WAN. The two graphs below represent around 6 billion data points including quality of experience scores, quality of service, and video performance. “You can clearly see there is almost a 60 percent improvement in performance after SD-WAN, compared to before SD-WAN,” said Kondala.
Into the future of work
Although many Hughes employees are back in the office, some continue to work from home two days a week. “To help our employees be successful, we need to make sure they have the tools they need,” said Tippets.
One of those tools is VMware Cloud Web Security™, part of VMware SASE™, said Kondala. Cloud Web Security is a cloud-hosted service that protects users and infrastructure accessing Software as a Service (SaaS) and Internet applications from threats, offering visibility, control, and compliance. “When Cloud Web Security was new, we enabled it with a subset of our work-from-home users, basically using them as beta testers. It’s been pretty simple and straightforward to use, it’s worked well.”
Hughes is also testing VMware Secure Access™, another SASE component that pairs with VMware Workspace ONE to enable secure, optimized, and high-performance access for remote and mobile workers.
As Hughes expands its own work-from-anywhere footprint and its offerings to serve more customers with distributed workforces, the company plans to partner with VMware to scale solutions as technology — and the nature of work itself — continues to evolve. Having proven out the use case for SD-WAN at home with its own employees, Hughes makes its HughesON™ SD-WAN Work @ Home solution available to customers, combining the VMware SD-WAN service platform with HughesON Managed Services and employees’ at-home broadband connections.