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Find out more about the cutting-edge technologies that underpin our Internet Connectivity offerings

Blog

The UK's First Software Defined Access Network

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It's time to make connectivity smarter

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Vindis Group

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Automating the Wide Area Network - Why you Need an SD-WAN

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Category: Blog

Jingle bells, jingle bells, G.fast all the way

2018 is coming to an end, but I’m really excited that we’ve been able to get some G.fast circuits installed for customers before the end of the year – including at my house!

The latest iteration of broadband (DSL), G.fast uses a broader spectrum of frequencies over the copper phone lines that we all know and love, giving higher bandwidths to those in reach.

Openreach (BT Plc) made the decision not to put the G.fast equipment closer to peoples houses and business premises than the current green cabinets at the end of the street.

What this means is that those who are fortunate enough to be close enough will be able to see an improvement from FTTC (which is also a form of DSL) and see those bigger bandwidth connections.

So far the circuits we’ve had installed have been working well, and although we haven’t had one go live yet at the top end of the bandwidth estimates, we are seeing palpable increases in bandwidth, which is great news.

For the installation in my own house, we’ve managed to double the capacity of a single circuit.  So where I once had 2x FTTC lines making up a connection delivering around 140Mbps in aggregate, I now get close to 200Mbps.  If I was to upgrade my second line as well, then it would be more like 300Mbps.

Our attitude to G.fast is the same as it was for FTTC and ADSL 2+ when they first came out.  We’ll use whatever bandwidth we can to create stable, resilient connections for our customers.

Any new broadband technology goes through its teething issues, but so far we’re seeing smooth running for all our G.fast circuits, and as a result, happy customers.

These new, higher bandwidth circuits, like G.fast and FTTP, and also leased lines as they are becoming increasingly more affordable, are needing bigger and more higher powered appliances to cope with them.

Make sure if you are considering upgrading, that you increase the capacity and ability of your entire network, especially your firewall and switches in order to make the most of the increased bandwidth.

We’ll be happy to talk to you about supplying firewalls capable of dealing with the bandwidth your connection delivers.

For now, enjoy the Christmas period, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with our sales team to find out if any of the latest connectivity technologies are available to your business locations.

Remember, we aren’t precious about what types of circuit we install – we’ll always give you as much capacity as you want, and in any combination, whether it’s ADSL, FTTC, G.fast, FTTP or leased line.  Our service is ‘all you can eat’!

Christmas – a time for freezing temperatures and freezing networks

If you are in the communications business, then you’ll be used to it by now.  At this time of year, you start getting the deluge of emails from carriers telling you about their “network change freeze”.

I like to place bets on which company will send the first warning of the year, laying out how they won’t be able to make any changes, or take any orders, or really do anything at all for a significant part of December and sometimes January.

Well you’ll be pleased to know that we have no such network freeze!

Orders for leased lines over the Christmas period will pretty much grind to a halt, because of the afore mentioned Christmas carrier shutdowns, but the management of our network is a 24/7 operation.

Of course, we’re not planning on trundling up to a datacentre on Christmas Day to install some new core routers, but our attitude to network management and deployment doesn’t change over the winter period.

Our Christmas opening hours are very simple.  The only days of the year we don’t have staff in our offices are Bank Holidays.  So that means Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

That’s it!  Every other day we’ll be there (even if wearing our PJs and scoffing too many mince pies).

Out of hours you have full access to our online monitoring and analytics engine eView Live, to help you troubleshoot any issues you may have on your network.

You can always see the status of your connection, and if you need help interpreting what you see then give us a shout.  Even out of hours over the Christmas period we’ll be able to give meaningful technical support over the phone for your connections.

We might not be able to do complex fault diagnosis or book an Openreach engineer, but we can help identify if there is an issue and importantly clarify if everything is working as it should.  Remember the vast majority of support cases we open are for issues on customer premises – either power, or firewall issues.

So have a very Merry Christmas, and get ready for an exciting 2019.  Who knows, by the end of it, you might end up with an SD-WAN, an FTTP or even a G.fast upgrade keeping your business online.

All Aboard

The SD-WAN band wagon has already left the station. It not quite up to full speed yet but there’s no doubt it’s picking up speed nicely, which is all the more impressive when you see how many vendors are desperately trying to jump aboard.

Everyone has something to say about SD-WAN, and most people seem to be saying that they sell it, even if all their previous marketing would have you believe they were leased line vendors, or VoIP vendors, or MPLS vendors.

So, something about their offering must have changed, surely? Well, not necessarily. SD-WAN sounds cool, you see. Gartner, and most industry analysts, think it’s going to be the next big thing. We’re certainly selling SD-WANs right now and the rate of SD-WAN enquiries we are receiving is increasing. To switch metaphor quickly, the wave is beginning to form, and the industry establishment are collectively running for their surf boards.

As ever with “new tech” there is no predefined and agreed definition of SD-WAN, or what makes a network/connection/WAN “Software Defined”. There are some generally accepted concepts however, which I think most people are now generally aware of.

So, why did I see a large teleco marketing their leased lines as “software defined” on Linked In last month? What on earth is it about a leased line that means it can be labelled “SD-WAN”? Perhaps they mean that a network of leased lines can be used to link up a few offices. Yes they can, they’ll sell you a thing called MPLS – but, in case you haven’t heard, it’s dead!

There is a real danger here. The corporate benefit to the ISP of all this SD-WANishness is to sell more leased lines, and to make more money. Now I’m all for businesses making more money, I’m a capitalist, but when the price to the end user rises and the quality of the product goes down, that damages my industry. And, quite frankly, the ISP industry needs all the help it can get, reputation wise!

An ISP investing in SD-WAN marketing alone, rather than in the core networking or (God forbid) in the SOFTWARE never mind the CPE required to deliver true SD-WAN benefit to the end user runs the risk of permanently damaging the name SD-WAN for the people who are out there actually doing it.

There is a historical precedent here. Bonded ADSL was badly implemented 12 years ago by the likes of Managed Communications, Xrio and Murphx. The damage to a good idea was done by over ambitious marketing, bad networks, worse software and poor implementation.

SD-WAN has massive potential, but it needs to be implemented properly, carefully, and with integrity. Calling something SD-WAN when it isn’t won’t help anyone, it will just lead to unhappy customers and a missed opportunity.

So my message to businesses looking to move to SD-WAN is, “it really could help you, but beware the band wagon”. If all you end up with is a rebadged MPLS then you’re missing out on all the benefits of resilience, flexibility and intelligence offered by a true SD-WAN.

The Power of a self-healing, multi-VNO SDN Platform

Today we had an issue with one of our carrier partners. Nothing too major, just a period of about an hour when all their tails (ADSL 2+, FTTC and leased lines) experienced increased latency of about 100ms.

Certainly they didn’t consider it to be a very big deal, they diagnosed the issue (a problem with a peering partner) and fixed after about an hour, and anyway, no one actually went offline.

Which is all well and good, but if you are a business customer and you are reliant on that ISP for your WAN (as many hundreds of businesses are) you experienced an hour of pretty much useless connectivity – very slow web browsing, VoIP calls not working, cloud apps unworkable. So there is little comfort in “at least you weren’t offline”. When user experience is so severely impacted, you may as well be.

It’s during events such as these that our multi-VNO SDN platform really comes into its own. No customers of ours have connectivity delivered via just one platform. So, whilst some of our customers did have component links within their multipath ethernet solutions routed via the affected network, we had the Get Out of Jail card ready to play.

Our monitoring alerted us to the issue within 30 seconds of it happening, our AI suite had crunched the numbers and come up with a network wide re-routing policy within a further 30 seconds, and suggested a fix. A quick thumbs up from our Head of Infrastructure and network traffic was routed away from the affected carriers’ links, on the fly, with customers experiencing no downtime.

We had one incoming support call from a customer, who happened to be on a VoIP call when the initial latency issue hit, but their user experience returned to normal as soon as the network traffic was rerouted. No other customers noticed the issue and got in touch. We have since rebalanced the network, again without impacting customers at all.

It was hard work setting up the multi-VNO network, and the investment of time and resources in the monitoring was very considerable. However, the network has proved its worth time and time again, this morning being just the latest example.

10 Years of Innovation – 10x ADSL Milestone Reached

What’s better than a high speed circuit delivering your internet connection? The answer is multiple high speed circuits – especially if it’s a Multipath Ethernet connection through our Multi-VNO access network.

But where would you stop? Two lines? Three? Five?

Well how about 10?

For years now, we have deployed 8 line and occasionally 9 line Multipath Ethernet connections over ADSL and FTTC in the UK. But we never had a 10-line solution. Until now.

This week we went live with our first ever 10 circuit Multipath Ethernet over ADSL connection – fitting as we celebrate 10 years of technology development.

Installed in Scotland and delivering in excess of 120mbps download and 15mbps upload, this single, logical, aggregated connection is delivering resilience and scale for a business that needs high bandwidth and serious uptime guarantees.

This is testament to our entire team. From the home-grown network engineers and software developers who pioneered the software in the UK, to the service delivery co-ordinators and project managers who arranged this complex install, we have all shown we can deliver exceptional Software enhanced connectivity solutions where no one else can.

As we mark 10 years of UK technology success, our vision is fixed on continuing to innovate.

No other UK technology company has the pedigree or focus to deliver the new and exciting connectivity developments that businesses need as we head to 2020 and beyond.

We’ve the breached 100mbps and 1Gbps thresholds. We’ve delivered both Layer 2 and Layer 3 connectivity with SD-WAN. We have aggregated every fixed line technology available, including FTTP and Leased Lines. Now we have smashed the 10-line barrier.

What’s next? We’ll let you know when we’ve cracked it.

SD-WAN Awareness Increasing in 2018

We’re seeing a turning point in the industry as we come to the end of the third quarter.

While Multipath Ethernet connections continue to be popular for businesses with a single site wanting resilient, high bandwidth internet access, we are seeing a clear trend in the desire to implement SD-WAN for multisite organisations.

Businesses have chosen MPLS networks for their WANs for a long time now.  But while the connectivity landscape in the UK has grown and expanded with new and higher bandwidth broadband circuits, and software engineering has taken huge strides in automating complex network orchestration, MPLS has stagnated.

We are now seeing demand increase month on month to replace aging MPLS WANs with SD-WAN.

As companies reach the end of their fixed term contracts (often 3 to 5 years), those responsible for IT are taking a second look at Software Defined Networking, and how it applies to the WAN.

3 years ago, SD-WAN was considered by many in the marketplace to be just about hype, even though Evolving Networks installed its first SD-WAN way back in 2013.

Now, as more and more installations take place, and the technology develops further, there has never been a better time to consider replacing static, single-line, inflexible MPLS with a resilient, multi-line Software-Defined WAN.

And it’s not just the larger corporates with 50+ sites who are seeing the advantages of switching to SD-WAN.  There is a large segment of the market operating on cumbersome and unreliable legacy VPNs.

Another growth area in the last quarter has been those businesses who haven’t ever taken the leap to MPLS but do have site-to-site connectivity through basic VPNs, either managed internally by their IT team or a local IT support company.

These VPNs tend to be flaky at best, and downright debilitating at worst.

SD-WAN is the successor technology to both these networking products – MPLS and VPN – and the benefits are clear.  Why have the hassle of managing your own VPN, when the very technology underpinning Multipath Ethernet connectivity is the tunnelling your VPN needs?

By integrating SD-WAN alongside local internet breakout, or even extending further with hybrid configurations including multiple discrete networks operating as Layer 2, Layer 3, or Guest Wi-Fi, businesses of any size can benefit from the Evolving Networks approach.

So if you are considering MPLS in place of your VPN – don’t!  Talk to us first and we’ll take that stress away.

And if your MPLS is coming up for renewal, then don’t just replace it with another MPLS WAN with poor reliability and no cloud access – take the leap to a fully managed SD-WAN as a Service from Evolving Networks.

eView Live Update

Our in-house UK software developers and network engineers are always working on things that make connectivity better, improve how we interact with others, and make us more efficient and scalable.

On any given day they could be working on integrating systems with suppliers, building new network event detection mechanisms, or adding new SD-WAN features to our products.

2018 has been a busy year already for us, with an expansion in the number of SD-WANs delivered, a move to larger premises and an increase in staffing across the business, particularly in dev.

What we’re announcing today is a new full update to eView Live our network analytics and orchestration platform.

Behind the scenes we have been adding functionality that allows us to more easily administer your connectivity, react to network events, and improve diagnostics.

But now it’s time for our customer facing portal to get a makeover.  The eViewLive portal is an essential tool in managing your connectivity – whether it’s checking traffic levels, link health, or looking at past usage.

What this new design gives us is not only an improved experience on both mobiles and large screens, but a platform for adding new features and functionality easily accessible through one login.

The new eView Live is faster, slicker, and needs fewer clicks to get to what you want.  Data loads near instantly and scales to your screen size.  Detailed live throughput can now be scrolled back 20 hours instead of 3 – invaluable for diagnosing LAN and WAN issues.

A new simplified menu structure gives us the scope to add additional options easily, so keep an eye out for further announcements as we add important updates.

We also rely on and welcome your feedback.

Don’t just assume that someone else might have spotted something that’s not quite right, or think that if something was useful someone else would have thought of it.

By having our own dedicated network software development resource, we have the power to make whatever changes we need, and who better to help us with that than the people using our products.

So if you like what you see, let us know, and if you don’t or have an idea for an improvement, please let us know as well.

Whether its for a connectivity feature request or a simple bug report for eView Live, email dev@evolving.net.uk and it will go straight to our devs.

What other SD-WAN company gives that level of access to the guys building the product?

Everyone hates VPN! Ensure secure access for homeworkers with Evolving Networks

Everyone hates VPN! Ensure secure access for homeworkers with Evolving Networks.

Spider Eye are a long standing customer of Evolving Networks. As a typical computer animation business they deal in large files, so the ability to send and receive large volumes of data is vital to their business. Not everything about Spider Eye is typical though, you won’t find them in Clerkenwell or Islington, the business relocated lock, stock and barrel to the most westerly town in England, St Just in Cornwall some years ago.

Hence the long association with Evolving Networks, who have been providing high capacity, resilient internet connectivity to Spider Eye, allowing them to inhabit their professional space in the industry from the delights of the west country since 2011.

Through the relationship, Spider Eye have enjoyed free, seamless upgrades to their connectivity as more advanced technologies have become available, resulting in their current multipath ethernet service delivering aggregated capacity via multiple FTTC circuits, meaning that their connectivity actually outperforms that used by the majority of their London based rivals.

Evolving Networks are always looking to improve both the quality of their customers’ internet connections as well as our relationships with our customers. As such, a discussion about the wider networking requirements of Spider Eye uncovered the need for home worker VPN access to office based systems for key workers.

Evolving Networks have delivered high capacity internet connectivity to the home for key personnel, with an EVX on site delivering a layer 3 point to point connection to the head office, ensuring secure access to the systems required, without the need for a cumbersome VPN connection.

If your business needs home worker access, there is a low cost alternative to that VPN solution you have been putting off implementing – call Evolving Networks today to find out how SD-WAN from the UKs network virtualisation pioneer can save you time, increase productivity and mean the end to your VPN pain!

Internet connectivity in a rural location? Evolving Networks has got it covered

Head quartered in Sussex, Bleach of Lavant are an established, family operated, logistics and haulage business with a proud history.

When the need arose to upgrade a key piece of business software, they were hit with a familiar problem: the job management software they wanted to buy requires a high capacity, low contention, connection to the internet.

Head quartered as they are in a rural location, ADSL is low capacity, and a leased line prohibitively expensive.

Evolving Networks provided a solution to this critical business problem, supplying a multipath ethernet solution based on multiple ADSL circuits at head office, delivering capacity via our multiVNO private network that was uncontended, low latency and unlimited, thereby allowing Bleach of Lavant to make their software upgrade without the need for expensive leased lines.

However, the business benefits didn’t end there. In addition to their ADSL circuit for primary business use, Bleach also operate a second site in Arundel, and maintained a VPN between the two sites, with an additional ADSL at head office.

In order to deliver as much capacity as possible, the VPN ADSL service was absorbed into the multipath ethernet circuit delivered at this location, and Evolving Networks SD-WAN software delivered a layer 2 LAN extension to the Arundel site, removing the need for the cumbersome VPN entirely.

The result is a high capacity, resilient, low latency internet connection at head office, allowing access to key cloud based software, as well as a much improved site to site link that brings the Arundel workers onto the head office LAN and removes a significant IT management problem, by dispensing with the VPN entirely.

Nic Elliott, CTO of Evolving Networks comments, “we’ve spent 10 years developing both the network virtualisation software and high performance network to deliver on what people are now calling SD-WAN. We’ve been here for years and its important UK businesses understand that this technology is for everyone, we’re as happy rolling out a two site solution that helps an SME as we are linking together 100 sites for a large corporate. SD-WAN is not something that is only available to the big boys”.

If you want to find out how Network Virtualisation software and SD-WAN can benefit your business, whatever size it is, get in touch with Evolving Networks today and speak to one of our experts.

New Datacentres – New Cloud Connectivity Options

We are pleased to announce a new core network partnership that will see our network expand into two additional major UK datacentres.

After a year-long project to find an additional partner to augment our core routing infrastructure, we have signed an agreement with Luminet that will see us add EVXcores into two London Equinix DCs.

By expanding in this way, we gain greater flexibility to deploy SD-WANs across the country and gain access to the Luminet product portfolio of wireless services that can be integrated fully into all our connections.

Our strategy has always been to integrate as many forms of connectivity as possible into our Multipath Ethernet service.

With Luminet’s ability to quickly (even same day) deliver high bandwidth solutions to SMEs, as well as using a technology complimentary to fixed lines, our customers will gain from connectivity combinations that will get them up and running fast, and with amazing reliability.

Access to the Equinix datacentres also gives us the scope to easily add ExpressRoute connections to Microsoft Azure.

Gaining in popularity, Azure gives businesses the ability to create a complete cloud-based virtual infrastructure, replacing even the most complex hosting and networking environments.

If your business is moving services to the cloud, whether it’s with Azure, Amazon or Google, or with your own private hosting, talk to us now about using SD-WAN to connect to the cloud.

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Have a question? Contact us on 0330 55 55 333