SD-WAN delivers flexibility for Mr Scaffold

Scaffolding firm rejigs network with broadband bonding

Scaffolding firm Mr Scaffold has swapped its conventional VPN setup for an SD-WAN, which the company’s IT manager, Mark Gerrey, says has delivered a performance boost and cut the time he spends dealing with network troubleshooting.

Mr Scaffold is headquartered in Western Sydney’s Wetherill Park and has offices in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. The company runs temporary sites at naval dockyards in Western Australia and a site at Woolloomooloo in Sydney.

An attempt to deliver adequate bandwidth to the last of these sites, located within an Australian Navy Garden Island dockyard, that eventually led to a shakeup for the company’s network.

Mr Scaffold is a subcontractor to one of the key contractors within the navy base but was unable to run a permanent fixed line connection into the facility to provide broadband to its staff. In addition, the company was unable to get visibility to connect to its standard fixed wireless provider, Gerrey said.

As an alternative, the company turned to mobile broadband, but found the bandwidth was inadequate. Mr Scaffold turned to link aggregation technology from Fusion Broadband, bonding together connections from multiple mobile broadband dongles but again relying on its standard VPN setup for communicating with Wetherill Park.

The company then rolled out link aggregation at the home office of one of its directors to fix a problem with inadequate ADSL performance, combining mobile broadband with a fixed-line connection.

“It proved to us that the use of ADSL plus the mobile broadband link would solve a lot of our problems with being able to work remotely,” Gerrey said.

Mr Scaffold offices and sites had been connected to Wetherill Park over a VPN with either ADSL or mobile broadband. Performance problems had affected productivity, and the VoIP phone system the company had rolled out was in some cases unusable, Gerrey said. Uploading worksite photos and accessing the company’s Microsoft Exchange server over the VPN was a painful process, the IT manager said.

The company rolled out link bonding across its offices to fix the issues, combining mobile broadband from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone with ADSL from Telstra.

“We implemented the bonders into most of our sites purely to solve those sort of problems,” Gerrey said. “Once we had them in the majority of our sites, it just made sense to get rid of the problems with the VPN and go with Fusion for a private WAN.”

Mr Scaffold’s Wetherill Park office was equipped with a fibre link from Telstra, and offices would retain their connections but use the head office as their Internet gateway. The setup has reduced the time Gerrey spends dealing with support calls from staff compared to the previous VPN setup, he said. It also makes it easier get temporary sites online, he added.

“That’s the beauty of the private WAN for us. We have a part time office, I suppose you’d call it, and it took me longer to set the printer up. The ability to set an office up so that it’s connected to our private network that quickly really gives us a lot of opportunity to service customers just about anywhere and be flexible.”

“We were originally just trying to solve one problem in one site and it built from there,” the IT manager said.

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