The New Way to Build a Network – Fast and Simple
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The New Way to Build a Network – Fast and Simple
Headquartered in Mountain View, CA, Lunar Energy builds products for home electrification with the ultimate goal of 100-percent clean energy use. The good news is that the company is growing rapidly, necessitating a new campus. The challenge: there was no network engineer in place to roll out the new location’s network. The traditional labor-intensive, time-consuming way of deploying a network was not an option for Lunar Energy, so its IT team got creative.
A network that has heavy demands
Alex Derafshan, who heads the Lunar Energy IT organization, is a thirty-year industry veteran. You’d be hard pressed to find someone more qualified to implement a new and innovative IT infrastructure solution.
“We had two things on our plate,” explains Derafshan, Lunar Energy Infrastructure and Cloud architect. “First, we needed to find a way to roll out a network without a network engineer. And second, it wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill network – we have to support both heavy enterprise and manufacturing use.”
To that end, Derafshan deployed Nile’s Network as a Service (NaaS) solution to provide secure, SLA backed connectivity and capacity for the company’s 100-plus enterprise users. Lunar Energy’s employees are anything but typical. To describe them as heavy traffic users would be an understatement given the design work and 3D imaging and printing they do on a regular basis.
The network runs beyond the typical IoT devices of smart thermostats, security cameras and badge readers. Lunar houses an innovative hybrid office/manufacturing facility. Data from the hundreds of battery tests performed in the facility every hour is transmitted over the Nile network. And the network will soon support the AR and VR applications that are being added to the manufacturing process.
Offloading the operational burden
Traditional network deployments are complex and incredibly time consuming, and Derafshan had no interest in going down that road again. “For the past 30 years running enterprise IT, I’ve built many networks. The pre-process alone is so tedious, I’ve had bake offs across the major vendors that have taken nine months,” he recalls.
There is so much work just to get to network deployment: site-surveying, ordering, procurement and expert installation. It became apparent why Nile’s NaaS model was the ideal solution. Nile took care of the network deployment from beginning to end.
“The site survey is a big hurdle,” says Derafshan. “I was impressed by how thorough Nile’s was. It laid the analytics foundation for future troubleshooting.”
Putting together the Bill of Materials (BOM) is also a daunting task, one that Derafshan happily handed over to Nile. “There are so many choices when it comes to the BOM, even when the specs match,” he says. “Nile just came in and did the design, taking care of something that is so complex.”
The Nile network was installed at Lunar Energy in just one day. In fact, Derafshan recalls “just hanging out” and occasionally “looking over my shoulder” during the installation. “The install went so smoothly, and, with all my years of experience, I am very critical,” he says.
Save money, sleep better at night
“I worked for one major network vendor and I’ve deployed other lean IT solutions, but I’ve never found a solution as simple and smooth as Nile,” says Derafshan.
Not only did Nile enable the installation of Lunar Energy’s network without a network engineer on staff, but moving forward, Derafshan has no plans to hire one for ongoing management. This saves the company money that can be invested in more strategic IT initiatives. Nile’s pricing model is also simple: pay per user, per month, nothing else to think about.
But for Derafshan, it goes beyond cost. “Our decision to go with Nile wasn’t just about the money, it was about peace of mind.”
“What impressed me is that Nile built high-end hardware and software from the ground up to deliver the network as a service,” says Derafshan. “They have sensors that monitor the service and let me know if users have problems before they even experience any problems.”
Management of the Nile network is simple, but if there are ever any issues, Derafshan goes straight to the Nile support team to solve the problem. “My Director of IT went on paternity leave, and, because we have Nile, I wasn’t even worried about who would support the network,” he says.
So, how can Derafshan be sure that Nile is living up to its SLAs for network performance and availability? He could check the Nile customer portal, but instead he relies on his everyday experience. “I never get complaints about not being able to connect or that videoconferencing isn’t working.”
Trust no one
Security is one of the most compelling reasons Derafshan chose Nile. In the past, he had suffered through the cost and inconvenience of network access control (NAC), so Nile’s zero-trust model was a breath of fresh air. Engineered within the Nile solution is the foundation of zero-trust access. It authenticates everyone on the network, guarding against social engineering intrusion. Nile’s zero-trust network prevents the spread of malware, while the physical design of the elements prevents tampering.”
“I am immediately notified when someone tries to access the network and I have to give approval,” he explains. “With Nile’s zero trust, I know our network is protected for both wired and wireless connections.”
Freeing up IT to innovate
At the outset of this project, Derafshan was, quite simply, over doing the same thing every company does plan a network, build a network, manage a network. His gamble on a NaaS model has paid off in ways both expected and surprising.
“Ultimately, we took the repeatable tasks off of the IT plate, allowing us to focus on creating a competitive advantage for the company,” he concludes.
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