On The Edge – A new blog on transforming the branch experience with Borderless Networks
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”
– William Blake.
Looking back, the first decade of this millennium could ultimately be viewed as an age of excess. From securities, SUV’s and PDA’s to business travel, there was arguably too much focus on quantity and not enough on quality. This “more is better” attitude was also visible in the world of I.T. – particularly when it came to branch offices. But that’s all changing now.
I.T. people know all too well how many services are required to run remote sites in a growing business: routing, switching, applications, security, voice, mobility, and more recently, virtualization and video. During the “go-go years” from 2000-2008, some just kept deploying more and more dedicated appliances in more locations to deliver ever more functionality to try to keep their companies’ top lines growing faster than their competitors.
Now imagine the eventual cost and complexity of taking a “one-box one function” approach to each and every branch office. It’s neither practical, affordable, nor sustainable. No wonder so many I.T. people felt stretched, and so many branch employees (and customers) felt like they were living in the Fort Apache area of the digital frontier.
However, like the rest of us, I.T. people are learning from prior excesses and taking a “less is more” approach to solving branch technology challenges. From retailers to banks to hospitals, I.T. people in all types and sizes of organizations are coming up with some great solutions that reduce costs and dramatically improve the branch experience for customers and staff alike. What do all of these innovations have in common? An Integrated Services Router (ISR) that optimizes a wide array of branch services in a single platform to reduce costs and deliver a superior customer experience.
Here are just a few examples.
1) The Peace Corps saved $185,000 in bandwidth costs in the first year by deploying WAN optimization on their ISR’s. In addition to reducing the IT burden, they accelerated file transfers by up to 20 times, reduced overall bandwidth usage by 50 percent, and reduced email bandwidth usage by 75 percent. With faster application response, volunteers can now collaborate on global issues in real time.
2) Inventiv Health, a global healthcare commercialization firm with 6,500 employees reduced branch equipment costs by 25% by consolidating several appliances into an ISR in each branch. They also reduced bandwidth costs by 15% with WAN optimization, and reduced device management expenses by 30% by automating guest Wi-Fi access services. By deploying HD video, they were able to significantly reduce travel expenses (with an ROI period of only 8 months) and expand more rapidly into global markets.
3) Northeast Community Bank with seven offices throughout New York consolidated a large number of devices in each branch into a single ISR (including PBX’s, voice gateways, wireless controllers, voice mail, and more), and doubled their effective bandwidth in some sites using WAN optimization. This additional bandwidth enabled them to scan and securely transmit checks locally instead of physically transporting them with armored cars. It also enabled video conferencing with remote offices, so they can improve collaboration and grow beyond their traditional geographic footprint into new areas. SIP trunking reduced transport and management costs, and new wireless capabilities integrated into the ISR’s enabled them to set up guest access for auditors and meet Federal compliance standards. Integrated video surveillance also helped the bank improve security.
Like the rest of us, I.T. people are learning from the past in their own way. Instead of deploying dedicated devices and sometimes over-provisioning single-function trunks, they’re able to trim costs and extract more value out of their network, staff, and carriers by optimizing the services required for each site. And while their actions may be primarily cost-driven, this migration and infrastructure consolidation is leading to another set of benefits that are just now emerging.
Networks and I.T. are becoming borderless; and the possibilities are huge. For example, with the properly optimized branch infrastructure, many applications can be virtualized within the router itself and delivered through public and/or private clouds in a secure, reliable, and seamless fashion.
Yes, we’re learning a lot from our excesses. To learn about the potential savings for your organization, see the Branch WAN Calculator. For more examples of branch innovation and technical details, see www.cisco.com/go/routing.