Unity EdgeConnect Review

Has enabled considerable money savings and reduction in traffic


What is our primary use case?

The use cases are pretty broad simply because we were optimizing the network and the use case if a site had multiple MPLS locations or they were paying for MPLS point to point connections. The main use case was to eliminate the MPLS through the primary carrier, like AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. We would identify all of those use cases where any site that was leveraging a service called Aryaka which was a whole mesh network. We were removing all of that and migrating to Silver Peak over the internet.

How has it helped my organization?

Once we had a site where we were using Orchestrator and Unity Edge and we would see the traffic come up. Once we would put in the appropriate change controls and migrate the traffic over from the MPLS, we would see a reduction in traffic by up to 40% between what the MPLS connection was with the new internet Silver Peak connection was using. Companies that had a 10 megabit line that they were using on MPLS would essentially not get a full 10 megabit throughput. When we migrated it over to Silver Peak, given that Silver Peak did acceleration, deduplication, and traffic mapping, we would see a significant improvement in not only the usage of bandwidth but also the deduplication of data that did not need to traverse the wide-area network. 

We had several clients that were paying $7,500 a month for an MPLS line for one single 10 megabit circuit and we were able to take that from $7,500 a month down to $500 a month for two 10 megabits circuits that added redundancy where before they did not have redundancy and it gave them a much better throughput. That was using a standard MPLS line. We put in two 10 megabit internet circuits and put Silver Peak on them and then removed the MPLS circuit. That took their bill from $7,500 a month down to $500 a month.

That's why as soon as we did that and we showed some of our other internal clients what could be achieved, everybody wanted to be first. After that, the flood gates opened and we were up and running.

There were router replacements where some sites might've needed to upgrade their router infrastructure with Silver Peak, you didn't need to do that because it could also function as a mini router. 

There were considerable money savings.

What needs improvement?

Their WAN optimization in terms of wireless connectivity doesn't have a very good cellular capability. I know of another company that does a much better job called Peplink. I have not specifically used Peplink but I am hearing from a lot of my clients who say Peplink has a great product and does things similar to the way Silver Peak does, but they had a better EdgeConnect type of device that functions very well on cellular connectivity.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Unity EdgeConnect for four years and we have it deployed to 300 locations over the globe.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. Out of the 500 devices that we shipped all over the world, we had one that had something wrong with it. It was a hardware failure and we sent it back to Silver Peak and they shipped us another one. And they were back up and running within a week.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is there. We would buy 500 devices at a time and I spent about four and a half million dollars and they could roll those out in a couple of weeks. The ability to turn it around from Silver Peak to the client was very fast.

The solution was very scalable because the WAN optimization and a Unity EdgeConnect devices would handle anything up to the level of a data center. Boost was the ability to scale up and down performance capabilities from a data center, from the large site in seconds. The scalability of the product is good from a hardware perspective through all of their Edge devices.

There are plans to increase usage. This was deemed one of the most successful projects that we deployed and every new site that comes online gets one of these Silver Peak devices.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. They are very responsive. If we had a call or sent an email in, we would typically get at least an acknowledgment within four hours. They worked with us on many occasions when we saw where improvements could be. They were very adept at looking at what we were trying to do. Especially when it comes to application performance and availability capabilities, they were very open. I would give them a high rating, a very positive rating for their customer service and support. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

There was a huge business case that I wrote to replace the Aryaka mesh network and Aryaka did not like that at all. As a matter of fact, three CEOs called me trying to convince me not to do that, but the Aryaka business case just didn't fit the company I was with anymore. We did replace all of our Aryaka sites with Silver Peak.

The primary reasons that we replaced it were because of cost and performance on the network. Aryaka would not do any traffic shaping or traffic management through a wide area network. If you were contracted to have a 10 megabit line and your traffic got up to 10 megabits or maybe spiked and went over say by 11 or 12 megabits, they would just drop your packets. They would not try to resend them. They would not try to buffer them. They just dropped them. We showed them that on several occasions. They refused to acknowledge that they would drop the packets, but we showed them several sites where we said, look, you see here, here are the packet snippers we're watching every packet that goes, here's one that's going through your device, and all of a sudden it drops. They never came back with a solution or a workaround or anything. So we had to get off of this. It's not worth it. We replaced also several NPLS connections from AT&T.

How was the initial setup?

The process was very straightforward for the initial setup. It was so straightforward, even I could do one. And for executive management to be able to do an implementation is saying a lot.

The setup was very straightforward in that connecting the hardware is three wires - four wires if you include a power cable. So once you have the unit, what we term "rack and stack" and we would send pictures to the site and it didn't have to be an IT person to plug this in. We would show them that exactly this color cable goes in this slot, this color cable goes in that slot and then turn it on. And as soon as it's on, then we'll take it from there. And my team would finish the setups, but the site needed to have a public IP address, which was typically not an issue. And then once we configured the site and tested the traffic over it was almost plug and play. Very rarely did we have any special kinds of troubleshooting. If we were not told all of the IP address ranges that a site typically had, then that could have been an issue. But once you've learned that and you've written down the lessons learned for it, we never had that issue again because we would make sure that the sites would tell us every IP address range so that we would not miss any IP addresses that needed to go through the Silver Peak device.

It was very straightforward and we could start reporting on a site what their current bandwidth was, what their traffic speed was when they're getting a full 10 megabit per second or what was the degree of deduplication and traffic shaping that was being done. Sometimes I would talk to the application developers and say, look, your application is constantly doing this and sending huge amounts of data over the WAN; how about if you didn't do that and redo your application to be more efficient in the data transmissions. A lot of them did that and that to me was a kind of an offshoot benefit. It allows you to be able to look at inefficient applications that need to be written in a much more SDLC format.

The deployment would predominantly take roughly three to four days to bring a site online. That was once the equipment was on-site and we had a site contact who could unbox the machine, unbox the box, rack it and stack it and power it up and then we would get it configured and then it would be ready for traffic for testing. So I'd say it would take about a week.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

You typically will license the hardware and you license the software to access the hardware capabilities. The price will range anywhere from a hundred to $300 a month. There are no additional costs. 

The additional cost that is needed would be the internet costs. Since most companies, most site locations already have an internet connection. That's a cost that has to be included as part of the cost of Silver Peak.

What other advice do I have?

Out of the 2.7 million that we saved over two years about half came from MPLS and half came from Aryaka savings. 

Silver Peak needs to come up with a 5G solution. They are clearly the leader in the SDWAN software-defined networking for wide area networks. When you're shipping outside of a domestic you well better have your paperwork and documentation set properly. Otherwise, you are going to get in trouble with the government which is typically the United States and the government that you're sending the device to. If you're sending one to France, Germany, anywhere in Europe, there have very strict trade requirements and regulations that have to be filed. And I would dare say that the majority of the companies that are dealing with this now are not in compliance.

My advice to someone considering this solution would be to understand what your sites are doing. If they already have public IP addresses or if they don't, they need to get. If they have point to point, they need to look at what their current level of redundancy is. Many of the sites that we went through had only a single external connection to the internet or to a hub provider, like AT&T, a carrier they need to have, and it's cheap enough now to have two distinct lines such that in the event one line goes down, they're not completely down. They can still have some level of redundancy.

I would rate it nine out of ten. 

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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...who compared it with Aryaka SmartACCESS [EOL]
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