Zamm Advisors > SD-WAN > Fisher Cato SD-WAN

Fisher Slashes MPLS Costs with SD-WAN

Fisher & Company is the parent company of Fisher Dynamics, a seating-systems and mechanisms company and Fisher Dynamics Metal Forming, safety-critical precision metal parts company. The manufacturing company has 1700 employees and is headquartered out of St. Clair Shores, Michigan. There are three other US locations — Michigan, Indiana, and Texas — and five more international locations — China, India, Germany, Mexico, and Poland. An instance runs in the Azure cloud.The sites in Mexico and Texas were connected via MPLS to the St. Clair Shores headquarters. All locations except for Texas had direct Internet connections, secured with local, provider-managed firewalls. Applications included ERP from Plex Systems, Microsoft Office 365, Nasuni for file replication, and voice from ShoreTel, Inc.

Project Details

Client name:
Fisher & Company
St. Clair Shores, MI
80% Savings over MPLS

— Kevin McDaid, Systems Manager, Fisher & Company

Users definitely feel it in their user experience. Things, like screen refreshes of our ERP system, seem to be a lot quicker with Cato.

Like many companies, Fisher & Company relied on MPLS for its global network. And like many companies, Fisher was tired of the high costs, limited bandwidth, and complexities of MPLS services.

The company spent $27,000 a month for a managed, secure MPLS service. The company’s 10 Mbits/s connection from the US to Mexico alone cost $7,000 per month. And three Riverbed WAN optimizers meant a one-time outlay of nearly $60,000 with an annual renewal of $7,000.

With stacks of appliances, including firewalls, WAN optimizers, and routers, comes complexity and a breeding ground for problems. “Our MPLS provider proposed this very intricate architecture that looked like it was from a CCNA test,” says Kevin McDaid, systems manager at Fisher & Company, “The sites ended up with dual routers running HSRP (the Hot Standby Router Protocol) to load balance traffic between them. But when the protocol failed, so did the location.”

Fisher began looking at SD-WAN as an alternative. “We trialed a managed SD-WAN service, but the provider was difficult to work with,” says McDaid. “The management console was very complicated and you needed training just to run the reporting. They wanted us to submit requests for configuration changes; it was like our MPLS provider all over again.” Instead, Fisher turned to Cato. Cato’s SD-WAN service integrates advanced security with an affordable global, SLA-backed backbone — the Cato Cloud. With Cato, McDaid could retain control over his network and security infrastructure yet gain the agility and scaling benefits of a cloud service.

McDaid initially added Cato alongside his MPLS services in his main offices, using static routes in his router to split the traffic between the customer edge MPLS router and the Cato Socket, Cato’s zero-touch SD-WAN appliance. The headquarters in Michigan and his offices in Texas and Mexico were connected across 25 Mbits/s Internet connections to the local Cato PoPs.

After validating the deployment, McDaid expanded the capacity of his headquarters’ Internet connection and switched all of his offices to the Cato Cloud. The offices also had 25 Mbits/s Internet connections from their local ISPs. The Cato Cloud supports Microsoft Azure connectivity out of the box, which allowed McDaid to easily add Fisher’s Azure instance. Mobile users established secure tunnels to the Cato Cloud from Cato’s mobile client that ran on their devices. All users and locations were segmented and protected with Cato’s Firewall as a Service.

Despite paying so much less for Cato, Fisher maintained and even improved its application delivery. Call quality has not changed since moving voice from MPLS to the Cato Cloud. Applications have become more responsive. “Users definitely feel it in their user experience. Things, like screen refreshes of our ERP system, seem to be a lot quicker with Cato,” he says.

The improvement was enabled by the additional bandwidth, and the Cato Cloud’s network characteristics. “The loss and latency of the Cato Cloud are comparable to our MPLS service,” he says.

Management has also become much easier. The Cato Management Application gives McDaid full control over his network and security infrastructure. And instead of jumping between many consoles, McDaid can manage everything from one interface.

Resiliency improved with Cato. Internet- and cloud-bound traffic are no longer backhauled to Fisher’s headquarters in Michigan, which created the single point of failure in Fisher’s old network design. Dual active lines connect every location to Cato’s fault-tolerant architecture. Internet- and cloud-bound traffic are sent directly onto the Internet; enterprise WAN traffic is sent across Cato’s optimized backbone to the appropriate location.

Cato vs MPLS - Annual Spend Comparison

  • MPLS
  • Cato+Internet