Delivering rich multimedia for successful selling anywhere
Tilson Homes relies on its infrastructure to support 200 employees at two corporate offices for key tasks including estimating, drafting, accounting, unified communications (UC), and IT. The company’s sales personnel also depend on the environment to present detailed home plans to prospective buyers at its sales parks.
However, as Tilson Homes rapidly grew and its applications needed to evolve, its aging WAN could no longer keep up with the demanding rich media the company needed to compete successfully in the competitive custom home marketplace.
“For many years, we were running straight T1 lines in all of our locations. Throughout the late eighties and nineties, that was fine, because much of our work was paper-based,” said Chris Alarid, Senior Vice President at Tilson Homes. “By the early 2010s, buyer expectations were changing, and we started seeing the need for more social media, 3D modeling, and streaming media at our sales parks. Our existing T1 lines could not provide the performance we needed for increasingly sophisticated media.”
Tilson Homes initially upgraded to MPLS, but the organization still faced bandwidth and performance limitations for private connectivity to its sites. The company needed a flexible, scalable solution that would enable it to extract the best performance from a variety of WAN connections across its sites.
Reimagining the WAN architecture
To gain the speed and scalability it needed to keep ahead of the competition, Tilson Homes turned to its longtime technology and managed services partner Meriplex. A leader in intelligent network solutions, Meriplex recommended deploying VMware SD-WAN™ as a managed SD-WAN service. SD-WAN lets Tilson Homes use any available links, including public Internet, to provide secure, performance-optimized connections from the branch to cloud.
“Being able to get any type of circuit and treat it as virtually private almost sounded too good to be true,” said Alarid. “VMware SD-WAN enables us to have the true mesh design that we really need for our unified communications components and our applications that are specific to residential construction. It also helps us to lower our capital expenses for routing and other requirements needed with MPLS. The solution gives us the flexibility we need to use broadband, satellite, LTE or whatever we can find at a specific location. We get the bandwidth we need, and the solution is all tied together.”
The new WAN infrastructure supports communication and collaboration between the organization’s sites. With the newly flexible connectivity, sales staff can present 3D models and other materials to prospective customers at any Tilson Homes branch site. Meriplex first deployed VMware SD-WAN at a new Tilson Homes location, and its successful performance inspired Alarid and his team to expand its use across the company.
“We tried SD-WAN at our new Waxahachie office, utilizing fixed wireless in a fiber circuit, and it was fantastic,” said Alarid.
Enhancing performance, capital savings, and the customer experience
Migrating to the Meriplex and VMware solution has set the stage for dramatically improved performance, along with significant cost savings. VMware SD-WAN has enabled Tilson Homes to achieve up to ten times the bandwidth at some sites, without increasing its WAN connectivity costs.
With SD-WAN delivered as a Meriplex managed service, the company has also saved money on maintenance and hardware expenses.
“I’ve got 13 locations, and the maintenance for routers alone at those sites was approaching $5,000 each year,” said Alarid. “The cost of replacing all our routers every three to five years added another $30,000 to $40,000. In overall asset spend alone, I would estimate that our VMware and Meriplex solution has saved us nearly $90,000 at this point.”
Moving to a managed services model has also enabled Tilson Homes to reduce its operating expenses—and free up its IT team to focus on other key initiatives for the business.