Case Study – ePlus Leverages Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band Technology

Secure, Resilient Access and Automation to IT infrastructure

Case Study – ePlus Leverages Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band Technology

THE CHALLENGE

As a leading consultative technology solutions provider with lifecycle services expertise across key areas including security, cloud, data center, collaboration, networking and emerging technologies, ePlus allows its customers to achieve positive business outcomes through the use of transformative technology. For ePlus, ensuring seamless network connectivity for business continuity across its 38 U.S.-based office locations and two data centers was absolutely critical.

Prior to adopting Opengear in 2016, ePlus used POTs lines with external modems plugged into auxiliary ports for OOB. According to Chris Smolen, Manager of Network Engineering for ePlus Internal IT, this solution was inefficient. Since it relied heavily on external modems, it also necessitated local, onsite involvement and maintenance, creating an inability to troubleshoot issues remotely. With so many individual locations, moving away from POTs lines became vital.

Technology Solutions Provider

ePlus, a leading global provider of integrated technology services and solutions, has successfully used Opengear’s solutions at all of its remote sites to achieve reliable out-of-band connectivity that supports its managed technology services.

Original case study at Opengear web pages: ePlus Leverages Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band Technology

THE SOLUTION

ePlus was looking for high availability, even if the primary in-band network failed. After looking at several serial console manufacturers, ePlus selected Opengear as the ideal solution for always-on connectivity, as well as permanent monitoring, and remote management of critical IT infrastructures in its offices and data centers. A major factor was the integrated 4G solution to ensure reliable cellular access to devices.

OOB solution with high-speed failover to cellular

ePlus replaced the POTs lines and external modems with Opengear Resilience Gateways (ACM 7008-LMV with 8 ports), using Verizon 4G LTE at its branch offices across the U.S. These units are compact and ideal for small remote sites. ePlus has also expanded its deployment of Opengear to its data centers and uses the IM7248-LMV for remote access, maintenance, and proactive monitoring.

Out-of-band management minimizes maintenance costs

The integrated wireless option offered by the OOB console servers also allows ePlus to substantially reduce costs involved with traveling to its remote offices to perform routine maintenance tasks, such as firmware updates, patches and other configuration changes, providing it with a bigger return on investment.

Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band allows IT staff to manage the infrastructure of hundreds of sites and thousands of devices with advanced troubleshooting and remediation from one centralized console, reducing operating costs and minimizing downtime.

Centralized management of the OOB infrastructure

ePlus also wanted its out-of-band solution to offer a centralized management system with automatic configuration for simple scalability and device provisioning. This software had to allow ePlus to keep an eye on all installed OOB consoles and connected devices from a single pane of glass. ePlus opted for Opengear’s Lighthouse management software. This central management platform for remote access is a virtual software appliance and implements OpenVPN encrypted tunnels to gateways for all LAN, WAN and wireless remote access connections. Lighthouse can be installed on any VMWare session as well as cloud hosting services including Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google’s GCE. Lighthouse also offers a RESTful API interface, allowing the platform to be integrated easily in other management tools already installed. Lighthouse offers a status overview of all access gateways or nodes, allowing for simple management. Nodes can be easily enrolled and the process is further simplified using enrollment bundles. These bundles combine a unique registration token with user-defined tags such as a geographical location, a department or even a rack position. Devices can also be grouped according to users, sites or manufacturers. In addition, strict access authorization can also be defined.

“The Resilience Gateway with Cellular isn’t just more reliable than our previous analog modem solution – it’s substantially more reliable.”

RESULTS

The Resilience Gateway with Cellular isn’t just more reliable than our previous analog modem solution – it’s substantially more reliable.”, explains Smolen. “They work every time we need them. Opengear is always available to answer any questions, and quickly. Working with Opengear has been an excellent experience.

Three years after adopting its new out-of-band management solution, ePlus is very pleased with the Opengear experience.

Delivering managed technology services requires fully reliable and resilient connectivity to network resources,” said Todd Rychecky, VP of Sales Americas, Opengear. “We’re glad to see how ePlus has been able to bolster its platform stability and grow its compelling service offerings in part by using Opengear’s Smart Out-of-Band solutions to deliver a more resilient network.

ePlus is a leading consultative technology solutions provider that helps customers imagine, implement, and achieve more from their technology. With the highest certifications from top technology partners and lifecycle services expertise across key areas including security, cloud, data center, collaboration, networking and emerging technologies, ePlus transforms IT from a cost center to a business enabler. Founded in 1990, ePlus has more than 1,500 associates serving a diverse set of customers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia-Pac.

Link to Opengear product pages: Opengear – Keeping Networks Running

Getting Smart About Network Resilience in Education by Opengear

Secure, Resilient Access and Automation to IT infrastructure

Getting Smart About Network Resilience in Education by Opengear

Ensuring Uptime In Education

Distributed campuses and new digital initiatives pose constant challenges to network engineering teams managing education networks remotely. The constant addition of bandwidth-intensive applications and the integration of distance learning due to the global pandemic has placed a strain on the network. Increasing the likelihood of an outage and with limited technical staff at each location, any type of disruption would place learning at a complete standstill.

To ensure educational processes remain running smoothly, productivity is maintained and recovery costs are kept at a minimum, these institutions need a network safeguard.

Opengear’s proven solutions ensure always-on network resilience and maximum uptime for educational institutions. Deployed by K-12 institutions and universities of all sizes, our products ensure that infrastructure is scalable and able to be managed remotely.

To learn more about the importance of network resilience in education, download the whitepaper today!

Supporting IoT Initiatives and Distance Learning

Educational institutions are integrating more smart Internet of Things (IoT) into their educational networks. IDC predicts that in 2025 there will be more than 40 billion connected devices. Implementing IoT in the classroom is no longer just about internet accessibility, it’s about extending connectivity beyond traditional smart devices to engage students, create immersive learning experiences, and solve common challenges.Now that distance learning has been pushed to the forefront, IoT has become even more important. The integration of distance learning into digital curriculums has increased the need for constant connectivity so that faculty and students are able to interact through digital forms of communication. Learning management systems, such as Blackboard, video calls, and discussion boards are all critical for distance learning, solely done online they require always-on access.

Managing an IoT system in this environment involves the use of alternate connectivity and dedicated management devices that provide resilient access at the edge of the infrastructure. These devices require continuous monitoring, configuration, provisioning, and remediation to provide resilience.

Read the infographic (pdf) to learn about always-on connectivity needed in education.

Provisioning New Campuses

Educational institutions are constantly expanding with some facilities that can be located across the country. The Secure Provisioning NetOps module by Opengear enables engineers at these schools to ship equipment to new locations and provision it remotely, eliminating the need for highly skilled engineers on site.

Automating the initial provisioning, configuration management and disaster recovery of remote infrastructure, an Opengear appliance is incorporated into the initial rack shipped to the location, once powered on, it calls home over the embedded cellular module. TPM safeguards are embedded into the unit to ensure that the firmware, configurations, and authentication keys haven’t been tampered with prior to installation. Lighthouse Enterprise automatically pushes image, configuration, and script files to the device which then provisions other hardware at the location. Providing secure Zero Touch Provisioning to the entire local infrastructure from one appliance, the need for human interaction is eliminated, saving educational institutions resources.

Learn more about Secure Provisioning (PDF) with Opengear.

Products:

Infrastructure Manager

Resilience Gateway

Centralized Management

Opengear Case Study – Keeping i3D.NET Undefeated By Downtime

Secure, Resilient Access and Automation to IT infrastructure

Opengear Case Study – Keeping i3D.NET Undefeated By Downtime

Opengear Solutions for Network Resilience

Ensuring network resilience is an important business priority for i3D.net. To maintain its global operation, i3D.net runs a complex low-latency network, with thousands of servers spread over more than 35 points of presence on 6 continents.

It is key that this network is kept up and running at all times. As Rick Sloot, chief operations officer, i3D.net explains: “Ten years ago, this was very difficult to achieve. There were very few ways of handling and managing your servers when the internet went down and those that were available were expensive and did not work well. As technology has advanced over the past decade, customer expectations have grown in line, and a high level of network resilience is now demanded by our users.

As we expanded as a business, opening up new locations around the world, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find a vendor capable of delivering a reliable way of keeping us up and running at all times, across all our locations.” continued Sloot.

We struggled to find local vendors who could support us. Often, we weren’t able to pinpoint the issue or access the faulty equipment. We needed to find a way of managing equipment remotely, identifying and resolving the problem, while keeping the network online. We started to look for a vendor who could work with cellular technologies such as 4G and who could deliver out-of-band management. Opengear fitted the bill perfectly. Opengear’s tools can support 4G cellular out-of-band connections in all our global locations which have enabled us to save time and money. We were looking for a partner that could deliver triple-A equipment on time all over the globe and knew we could rely on Opengear for this.

i3D.net is a leading provider of high-performance hosting and global infrastructure services. The company notably excels in-game hosting and infrastructure, serving 100 million gamers daily for game publishers and independent developers on consoles, PC and mobile. The i3D.net network is one of the world’s top-10 most connected hosting provider networks. i3D.net is now a Ubisoft company, having been bought by the French publisher in 2018.

Original case study at Opengear web pages: Keeping i3D.NET Undefeated By Downtime

i3D.net decided to work in partnership with Opengear and implement its ACM 7008-2-L Resilience Gateway to provide smart out-of-band management to its entire IT infrastructure, and also to provide a built-in backup LAN and/or backup Internet connectivity option for all their remote sites.

Reaping the Rewards

Today, i3D.net uses the Opengear Resilience Gateway as a fall-back, providing out-of-band management, as and when required, to its routers all over the world. It has achieved a raft of benefits as a result. For example, it has helped to significantly streamline the process of bringing new sites online.

In the past, when i3D.net had to carry out a deployment outside the Netherlands, a technical operations engineer flew to the location and installed the new switches but would typically struggle to configure them. Today, i3D.net simply connects the Opengear Resilience Gateways to these network switches and its network operations engineers back in the Netherlands are then able to configure the whole site remotely via the Opengear device. “This is very powerful and a huge benefit for us in terms of the time and costs saved not only in provisioning but also ongoing maintenance” commented Sloot.

“We were looking for a partner that could deliver triple-A equipment on time all over the globe and knew we could rely on Opengear for this.”

Using Opengear Resilience Gateways also allows i3D.net to stay one step ahead of any pending network failures. According to Sloot: “We don’t like downtime and neither do our customers. Today, if there is an issue, we can directly connect to our routers anywhere in the world without having to wait for someone at the locations to access and fix it. The agility of the Opengear solutions means we can quickly help our customers and maintain our high standards as a performance hosting company.

Looking Ahead

Today, i3D.net continues to expand and open global locations dynamically. It is also in the process of switching to a new Juniper Networks router platform. As Sloot explains: “This will give us the opportunity to launch our Global Low-latency Anti-DDoS solution (GLAD). Every region where we are changing the router and do not have an Opengear Resilience Gateway will now receive one.

Finally, we have an enterprise customer for which we are remotely managing servers, running routers and firewalls in their own environment. We are planning to place the Opengear solution there. It marks the first time we have carried out a deployment of Opengear’s Resilience Gateway outside our own data centres.

The rapidly expanding use of Opengear at i3D.net bears witness to the broad benefits it brings the hosting provider and also highlights a partnership that goes from strength to strength today and will look to evolve further in the future. i3D.net is on a fast growth path and Opengear continues to support its dynamic expansion worldwide.

Link to Opengear product pages: Opengear – Keeping Networks Running