How an Environmental Services Firm Fixed Their VoIP Problems (and Boosted Cloud Performance)

How one company fixed their sluggish Internet and dropped calls

How one company fixed their sluggish Internet and dropped calls

C&M Relied on the Cloud, but They Needed the Right Architecture

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The cloud has become a core component of the IT environment, with organizations devoting ever-larger portions of their budgets to cloud solutions. That’s because the cloud delivers key business benefits, including the ability to preserve capital, reduce operational overhead, implement new services faster and scale on demand.

However, traditional WAN architectures are ill-suited to cloud computing. Private circuits, such as MPLS links, are expensive, slow to provision, inflexible and complex, offsetting much of the value of the cloud. They offer guaranteed bandwidth but it comes at substantial cost, and much of it is wasted due to the inefficiencies of routing cloud traffic over MPLS.

Broadband Internet makes more sense for cloud access—it’s a small fraction of the cost of MPLS and can generally be provisioned pretty quickly. The problem is that broadband doesn’t give you guaranteed bandwidth or performance. As cloud traffic increases, other applications are going to suffer.

If you rely on cloud applications for mission-critical business processes, this can be a real problem.

For Example: Monthly Payroll Triggered Dropped Calls and Sluggish Internet

logo of company with dropped calls during payrollC&M Industries, an environmental services firm based in Chesapeake, Va., found that its cloud-based accounting apps caused the WAN to slow to a crawl. The problem was especially acute twice a month, when the company ran payroll for its 250 employees.

This didn’t just impact the performance of the cloud software. C&M’s Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system took the biggest hit when WAN traffic spiked. Calls would become unintelligible and drop unexpectedly.
C&M had two problems. One was a lack of bandwidth. The cable broadband link connecting its headquarters to the Internet was just 15 Mbps x 5 Mbps—the fastest available in that part of town. A nearby branch office had a 30 Mbps x 10 Mbps connection, which was better but still not terribly fast.

The other problem was a lack of traffic shaping and prioritization for VoIP calls. The Internet provides only “best effort” delivery, so voice and video conferencing traffic has to wait in line with all of the other data. C&M looked at a private VPN solution, but it didn’t provide traffic shaping capabilities. The carrier couldn’t guarantee that call quality would improve, so C&M was reluctant to make the investment.

How C&M Fixed Their Dropped Calls During Payroll and Streamlined Their Cloud Apps

That’s when the company discovered the InSpeed software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution. InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) gives interactive traffic (UDP) priority over other Internet traffic (TCP) so that voice and video conferencing data goes first. It’s designed specifically to resolve the kinds of problems that plague VoIP calls when Internet traffic increases.

After installing IQS, C&M found that call quality improved immediately—even on the 15th and last of the month when the accounting department processed payroll. The company also noticed that its cloud applications and other Internet functions started performing better as well. That’s because IQS manages bandwidth both downstream and upstream, reducing WAN congestion for all applications.

As organizations increase their use of cloud applications, the right WAN architecture becomes critical. MPLS wasn’t designed for the cloud, and broadband Internet comes with tradeoffs in terms of performance and reliability. InSpeed gives you cloudlike agility and cost-efficiency while guaranteeing high-quality business communications over any WAN connection.

If you’re having problems similar to C&M, InSpeed can help.

Do Your Remote Workers Have Effective Communication Tools?

Stats on employees working from homedowload a printable PDF of this article: Eliminate MPLSIn a recent survey conducted by research firm Inavero, hiring managers predict that 38 percent of their full-time, permanent employees will primarily work remotely in the next 10 years. The survey, conducted on behalf of freelancing website Upwork, found that 63 percent of companies today have remote workers, and more expect to embrace flexible workstyles. This can provide key benefits—as long as remote workers have effective communication tools.

More than half (52 percent) of hiring managers surveyed said that talent shortages are the key driver for adopting more flexible workforce policies. By enabling employees to work from home or a small satellite office, organizations gain access to a larger talent pool. Remote workers tend to be more productive than their office-bound peers, and are able to serve local customers better. They also tend to be happier and more satisfied in their jobs, reducing turnover and further relieving talent shortages.

But it’s not enough to simply allow employees to work from home—organizations must provide remote workers with the right technology resources. Effective communication and collaboration tools are especially important, particularly for workers who interface directly with customers. It’s not realistic to expect remote workers to use their cell phones, personal land lines or consumer-grade collaboration solutions.

Voice over IP (VoIP) and unified communications (UC) platforms make it possible to extend the headquarters phone system to small office / home office (SOHO) workers. However, the vast majority of these workers are going to have basic broadband Internet connections. The Internet is a “best effort” transport medium, meaning that data packets are delivered when they’re delivered. When you connect to VoIP and UC systems via the Internet, you often get garbled calls, echoes and other Quality of Service (QoS) issues.

case study of insurance nonprofit having trouble with VoIPInsurance Group Ensures Call Quality and Reliability for Remote Employees

That was the problem plaguing the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, a group of nonprofit insurance organizations that provide reasonably priced property and casualty insurance exclusively to other nonprofits. The Santa Cruz, California-based group has approximately 100 employees serving more than 17,000 nonprofit organizations in 32 states and Washington, D.C.

Half of those employees work from remote locations across the U.S., and they were struggling with unreliable, poor-quality VoIP services that made it difficult to deliver high-quality service to their customers. The problem wasn’t the group’s ShoreTel phone system—it was connectivity between headquarters and the remote sites.

The group decide to test InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) in the remote offices of several employees. The difference was night and day. IQS is a unique software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution that was purpose-built for business communications. A small onsite appliance automatically connects to the InSpeed cloud and begins monitoring and streamlining Internet traffic. InSpeed’s patented technology prioritizes voice and videoconferencing traffic to ensure high-quality communication over any Internet connection. And the solution is so cost-efficient and easy-to-manage that it can be used for SOHO workers.

The group’s management team was so pleased that they immediately placed an order for 31 IQS sites, and have continued to add sites since then. You can read the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group case study here.

As organizations struggle to fill the growing skills gap, they’re implementing flexible workforce policies to get work done and create happier, more productive employees. However, remote workers can only provide high-quality customer service if they have effective communication tools. InSpeed overcomes the drawbacks of broadband Internet connections to ensure high-quality voice and video conferencing over any connection, every time. Learn more.