An early SD-WAN adopter
BullsEye Telecom was founded as an Internet service provider in 1999. They quickly grew into a national communications provider, offering solutions including unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS), managed Wi- Fi, security, and SD-WAN to thousands of business locations.
The company’s first SD-WAN deployment came in 2016 with VeloCloud, before VMware acquired that company. VMware SD-WAN is still a strong component of their portfolio. “Today, BullsEye is keenly focused on business clients who have multiple locations,” said Vilas Uchil, BullsEye’s Chief Technology Officer. “VMware SD-WAN is a key component of our go-to-market strategy to streamline their communications. Our team configures and deploys VMware SD-WAN Orchestrator for our clients. From that point, they can choose to manage the service on their own or rely on us.”
BullsEye Telecom employs a consultative approach to discover their clients’ pain points and help them understand how SD-WAN can solve them. “Whether our clients are sunsetting MPLS or need guaranteed access with 100 percent uptime—we position SD-WAN as part of the solution.,” said Clayton Banka, Product Engineer at BullsEye.
The company also partners with Zscaler for cloud security. Zscaler and VMware SD-WAN together form an integrated, secure SD-WAN solution that is scalable, flexible and optimizes cloud application performance. “SD-WAN has become a large part of our deployments, so we needed a common cloud security platform,” said Banka. “We researched cloud security providers and Zscaler’s integrations with VMware SD-WAN were a great fit.”
Supporting a variety of clients and use cases
Among their clients’ many verticals and use cases, a few stand out. Quick-serve restaurants need connectivity for critical use cases such as point of sale equipment. Downtime can cost a restaurant thousands of dollars an hour. But with very thin profit margins, these restaurants often cannot afford a single high-bandwidth connection with high reliability such as MPLS. VMware SD-WAN allows clients to combine commodity broadband lines into one larger connection with a combined high service level—often at a lower overall cost than one “fat pipe.” Multiple connections provide built-in failover.
Medical offices also need strong connectivity, along with rock-solid security to protect sensitive patient information. Clinics produce large images such as MRI scans, which are usually stored in the cloud for lower cost than local storage. Medical offices also need to connect to cloud-based electronic medical systems. With cloud-based VMware SDWAN, these offices have near-real-time access to the data they need to provide care in a timely manner.
BullsEye Telecom has also found VMware SD-WAN to be a great solution for their clients in rural areas where bandwidth choices are often few and under-powered. SDWAN can speed and remediate any kind of connection, from cellular to DSL to satellite, and combine smaller pipes into one greater source of bandwidth “just by plugging everything into one VMware SD-WAN Edge,” said Banka.
The company’s end clients see a range of benefits from using VMware SD-WAN. According to Banka, the biggest advantage for BullsEye as a managed service provider and clients who manage their own service is single-pane-ofglass management. “With other services, you would have to be in three or four portals,” said Banka. “With VMware SDWAN, the Orchestrator manages everything in one place. It makes multitenancy simple. While BullsEye staff can access all our clients, our clients have access to only their tenancy. It also simplifies segmentation for use cases like PCI compliance and guest Wi-Fi.”
Simplest deployment with the highest quality scores
Banka learned early on that VMware SD-WAN would be a simple solution to deploy and use. “When we first tested SD-WAN, we set up a lab for different vendors’ products. Other companies flew in a sales engineer with their boxes. VMware just set up a 30-minute phone call. I remember thinking, there’s no way we can go through everything in 30 minutes. But all they needed to say was, here’s the initial login, here’s the Orchestrator, here’s how you activate it.”
Banka followed the steps and was amazed that 30 minutes of instruction was more than enough. “After that, there was no way I was going through a two-week test process with other companies,” said Banka. “I never even had to call VMware tech support. VMware SD-WAN not only had the best quality numbers but was the easiest to use.”
Using SD-WAN to help charitable organizations
BullsEye Telecom uses their field experience to donate call centers to local and national charities for fundraisers. The charities, including Mitch Albom’s SAY Detroit, the Salvation Army, and Detroit Dog Rescue, partner with local media to raise awareness and money with radiothons. These events often take place at malls, event spaces, radio stations or other areas where it’s difficult to set up a 20- to 50-person phone bank.
“We use VMware SD-WAN to set up cloud-based VoIP call centers on a temporary basis at these sites,” said Banka. “We can’t disrupt business at the places that are nice enough to lend us their facilities for these radiothons, so we come in the day before and build the call center from scratch. VMware SD-WAN makes that easy, we just plug in the boxes and they’re ready to go.”
SD-WAN provides data protection, enforces business policies, aggregates bandwidth from a variety of circuits and supports guest Wi-Fi at the fundraisers. Banka noted that VMware SD-WAN impressed one local engineer by providing better bandwidth for an IP radio stream over the temporary system than the engineer got from his own station. “I convinced him to plug directly into the VMware Edge. I said, if you don’t like it, just unplug. Later he showed me a graph of the connection quality and said he’s never seen it so clean.”
In a 2017 video, author and philanthropist Mitch Albom thanked BullsEye for helping his foundation raise more than $1.2 million for Detroit’s neediest citizens. “I want to say a special thank you to all the great people at BullsEye Telecom … They put together our call center in 24 hours, overnight. Remember, a telethon or radiothon is kind of useless if your phones don’t work, and our phones worked fantastically.” Since their first radiothon in 2012, BullsEye has helped SAY Detroit raise millions of dollars.