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Interview: More SMBs, Larger Enterprises Turn to Broadband Bonding in Down Economy

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June 03, 2009

Interview: More SMBs, Larger Enterprises Turn to Broadband Bonding in Down Economy

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor


Spurred by a slower economy that’s forced service providers to become more flexible and cost-effective as consumers demand faster, more diverse services, greater numbers of companies – including SMBs as well as larger enterprises – are turning toward so-called “broadband bonding” as a solution, an expert in the area told TMCnet during an interview (printed in full below).

 
According to Dr. Cahit Akin (News - Alert), co-founder and chief executive officer of Mushroom Networks – a San Diego-based provider of broadband bonding solutions for Internet connection applications – more and more companies are turning to the technology for better performance as well as cost-savings.
 
Broadband bonding essentially allows businesses to combine separate DSL, cable, or wireless links into a single, high-speed Internet connection – and it replaces the need for expensive legacy services such as T1 or MPLS.
 
As Akin told us during our interview, most people today realize that T1 connections – which generate about a quarter of the speed that DSL or cable Internet connections provide – are nearing the end of their life cycles.
 
“We also see enterprises utilizing broadband bonding to add bandwidth and reliability to their T1 or MPLS and gradually migrate to Broadband Bonding,” Akin told us. “Most ISPs realize the broadband bonding trend in the industry and we have partnered with some ISPs that are leveraging this cutting edge networking technology to introduce innovative solutions to their business customers, I anticipate this trend to continue and accelerate.”
 
This week, as reported on TMCnet, Mushroom Networks (News - Alert) unveiled the second generation of its flagship broadband bonding appliance – the second-generation TRUFFLE (pictured right), which delivers higher maximum throughput at more than 300Mbps, enhanced QoS and traffic prioritization for real-time voice and video, and automatic failover ensuring near 100 percent network uptime.
 
We also talked about the new TRUFFLE.
 
Our exchange follows.
 
TMCnet: We assume that increasing numbers of businesses are looking to broadband technology as they pursue cost-effective ways to do more with the networks they have. What affect, if any, has this slower economy had on interest in Mushroom Networks’ TRUFFLE product line?
 
Dr. Cahit Akin (pictured left): We have observed that more and more companies are looking to reduce their operating expenses on Internet connectivity. This includes larger enterprises that realize the value of using broadband bonding technology for connecting their branch offices to their head office. The motivation we see from our customers is not only utilizing broadband bonding for better performance with the bonded speeds, but is also to save money. Broadband Bonding – or “WAN virtualization” – is the new technology trend to watch in the enterprise branch office connectivity and office-to-data center connectivity space.
 
TMCnet: Talk to us about what the second generation of the TRUFFLE appliance offers that the first generation doesn’t.
 
CA (News - Alert): The second generation TRUFFLE BBNA5201G has high availability and reliability features designed for “high 9s” installation scenarios. Similarly, the performance we engineered into the second generation TRUFFLE is above 300Mbps with all GigE ports.
 
The remote management and scalability features are geared for large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of branch offices, where the IT manager at the headquarters office can easily manage the units in their branch offices without requiring any local IT person on site at the branch offices.
 
TMCnet: Given that bonding technology effectively combines multiple high-speed Internet connections carrying various data into one, what kinds of security issues, if any, arise when businesses use the TRUFFLE device? How does Mushroom address those issues?
 
CA: Our Broadband Bonding devices are compatible with all security standards such as PPTP, IPSec and all others as our bonding appliances are 100 percent transparent to the existing firewall, VPN and intrusion detection solutions that the company might already have in place. Being able to transmit a single VPN session over bonded Internet connections and therefore accelerate that VPN session, is a first in the industry and is critical for enterprise branch offices that suffer from slow VPN connection speeds.
 
As a design constraint, we made the installation process super simple and it takes less then four minutes. Our passthrough install requires no changes whatsoever in the existing customer network. The bonding appliance simply slides between the modems and the existing network of the branch office. The device also supports many other installation setups including installing the unit in the DMZ, if desired.
 
TMCnet: What kinds of guarantees can Mushroom make for businesses requiring, as more and more do, 100 percent reliable network services – even during power outages or cut lines, for example?
 
CA: High 9s reliability of the WAN connection has a real-dollar value for businesses. Today, when you loose your connection to the cloud, your business stops as your business processes that depend on servers that are located elsewhere (either in the data center cloud or at the headquarter office) also stop.
 
Even though some of our clients use our solutions to bond all DSL lines or all cable lines, by mixing and matching various Internet providers and bonding all those links together, you are creating a WAN connection that is practically the most reliable network you can build. Our broadband bonding devices facilitate exactly that and save money as a side benefit.
 
So if your LEC T1 or DSL line goes down, your VPN session will still be kept alive over the available cable line for example, or vice versa. Even further, if all of your wired connections go down, the optional 3G cellular card that is attached to the TRUFFLE can keep the vital Internet connectivity until the ISP problems are resolved.
 
TMCnet: What do you hear from service providers about your technology? How does it affect them when companies opt for cheaper cable access or DSL lines over things like T1 or MPLS?
 
CA: I think everyone realizes the T1 with 1.54Mbps (which is one-fourth of what you can get from DSL or cable Internet these days) is at the end of its life cycle. The biggest limiting factors of DSL and cable for business WAN applications have been the slower uplink speeds of DSL/Cable compared to T1, but broadband bonding addresses that and takes it a step further.
 
For example, one can build a WAN connection that has 20 times faster download speeds and 5 times faster upload speeds of a T1 for the same cost of a T1. Not to mention the added reliability of the network that is a result of the diversification over various ISPs.
 
We also see enterprises utilizing broadband bonding to add bandwidth and reliability to their T1 or MPLS and gradually migrate to Broadband Bonding. Most ISPs realize the broadband bonding trend in the industry and we have partnered with some ISPs that are leveraging this cutting edge networking technology to introduce innovative solutions to their business customers, I anticipate this trend to continue and accelerate.
 

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan







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