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The Bay Club Company is an operator of private clubs that blend fitness, swimming and tennis. Today the company has 24 clubs across California, but it's growth path could potentially double that by the end of 2017. The Bay Club's expansion strategy includes acquiring smaller clubs and bringing them into the portfolio.
IT director Mark Street is charged with bringing the acquired clubs into the Bay Club network as quickly as possible. That connection is essential in order for the club, from a technology point of view, to begin operating and feeling like a Bay Club. Street says it would take 60 to 90 days to bring a new club onto the traditional corporate backbone, but his goal is to be able to fully integrate a new club within a week to help The Bay Club and its members benefit from the new acquisition faster.
He is able to meet his one-week implementation goal by using SD-WAN technology from VeloCloud. "We really like the flexibility that VeloCloud gives us," Street says. "Last year we purchased a club in San Jose and wanted to bring that club online quickly. Typically what we would have done is purchase a firewall, create a point-to-point IPSec VPN tunnel—just a traditional approach. Instead we put in a VeloCloud device at headquarters and a VeloCloud device at our new club and we were able to bring them online in about half an hour."
The San Jose club had just a single Internet connection in place at the time. Nevertheless, the VeloCloud solution allowed Bay Club to run IP phones, the member database application, regular file and print, and member Wi-Fi all across what otherwise would have been a very slow Internet connection at this club. "The voice quality on the IP connections was fine," says Street. "No one noticed they were running over a 10x1 DSL connection. We were able to achieve a very fast deployment as well as an enhanced level of service on top of what we normally would have been able to achieve."
Since then the company installed a second, much higher speed connection, but Street says that without the VeloCloud device at this location, they wouldn't have been able to run IP phones over the old connection successfully.
The Bay Club Company is expanding its VeloCloud deployment. "We have five of them in production right now, and the goal is to have a VeloCloud device at every single one of our clubs within the next five months as we are rolling out our new corporate backbone," says Street. VeloCloud is also an integral part of their disaster recovery strategy. "We will use the traditional MPLS line and the quality that comes with that, but we're building in a layer of redundancy with VeloCloud that allows us to use the existing Internet connection as a failover in case the MPLS ever goes down. That way the club won't go offline."
Street calls it a very attractive solution, especially as the company grows. "We don't pay anything extra for our Internet connections and we get a fully functional DR solution that is just an additional layer into our network. It's easy to deploy, easy to determine how you want to route traffic, and very cost effective as well. As our company gets bigger, if we have issues, the impact becomes a lot larger, so we are taking steps to avoid issues with our network."
VeloCloud's solution is appealing in industries where companies have a lot of branch or remote locations, such as retail and hospitality. As these companies open more branches, they typically don't increase the number of IT personnel necessary to support those roll-outs. Oftentimes remote sites don't have people with the IT knowledge and skills to set up the networking equipment, and it's expensive and time-consuming to send IT experts from the corporate office to the branch locations. VeloCloud solves that problem with a pre-configured device called an Edge that simply needs to be plugged in and powered on. Once VeloCloud has the IP address for an Edge device, the vendor automatically recognizes the available lines, begins to characterize them, and then connects them to VeloCloud's cloud platform. As Street described, a branch location can be up and running within an hour of turning on the VeloCloud device.
VeloCloud's value proposition is its ability to monitor the characteristics and real-time performance of the connections and steer packets to achieve the optimal performance. If the branch has more than one connection – which VeloCloud recommends – the packets can be switched between the lines on a per-packet basis using a technology called Dynamic Multi-path Optimization. This technology can compensate for packet loss and jitter so that traffic flows smoothly, even over a less expensive connection.
VeloCloud's line remediation technology works even when a company only has one line installed (see graphic). In this illustration, the branch location has one connection provided by Etheric Networks. The red and yellow portions of the line indicate instances of moderate to extreme packet loss or jitter, or both. You can see that without VeloCloud, the quality of the line is often quite poor. With VeloCloud enhancements applied, the line quality improves significantly. This translates to better VoIP calls, better video, and so on.
The VeloCloud solution is offered as a pay-as-you-go subscription model on a per-branch per-month basis. In addition, for very large enterprises and very large service providers, VeloCloud can provide them with the technology to run their own service, that being VeloCloud as a product. Having both business models is rather unique in the SD-WAN space.