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Hughes Employees Get More Done from Home with VMware SD-WAN

Work from home

In early 2020, when offices around the world suddenly had to send millions of employees to work from home, some enterprises were more prepared for the transition than others. Global managed services provider Hughes was able to use its experience as a VMware SD-WAN™ partner to help its customers, and some of its employees, get more out of their home-office connections.

Prior to the pandemic, Hughes had begun laying the groundwork to deploy VMware SD-WAN with its customers. “We had been doing a lot of work with the platform in our labs and locally,” said Mike Tippets, VP of Enterprise Marketing & Organizational Development at Hughes. “When the work-from-home requirement hit, our VMware sales and engineering contacts mentioned that they had a work-from-home program using VMware SD-WAN and would be happy to help our customers try it.” Hughes originally evaluated and tested the solution with customers’ work-from-home employees, and quickly realized that the solution would resolve some of its own employees’ connectivity problems.

“We started asking folks at Hughes about who was having trouble with home networks, who’s not able to work effectively, who can’t access all of their enterprise tools,” said Tippets. “VMware responded to our needs very quickly. Within a week and a half, we had the SD-WAN boxes we needed for our customers and ourselves. We got the equipment out to everyone, they were able to plug them in, and the solution just worked.”

No tech support necessary

Randy Anders, VP of North American Sales at Hughes, described his own experiences with the pivot. “I lived out in a rural area, with a bunch of homes that are all on the same cable,” said Anders. “There were no other options. Everyone was sharing the same bandwidth with their kids and everyone else in the house. I just couldn’t work.” Anders called on Pranav Kondala, Hughes Principal Solutions Architect, to help him figure out a solution.

Luckily the solution was right at hand. “Pranav sent me this beautiful thing called a VMware SD-WAN Edge, with a Cradlepoint 4G backup. Now, I’m not technical. So, I called Pranav and said, I know we’re in a pandemic, but who’s coming to help me with this? He said, you are,” Anders recalled with a laugh. “But I was able to set it up, and it worked very well. I was able to use Microsoft Teams for video calls, even with two kids taking classes from home. I was able to get way more done.” When Anders moved to a new house, he simply disconnected the VMware SD-WAN Edge at one location and plugged it in at the other, “and within five minutes I was back online again. Those were two very good outcomes.”

The proof is in the Orchestrator

Tim Tang, Hughes Director of Enterprise Solutions, shared his experiences working at home with VMware SD-WAN in a LinkedIn article. Tang had five kids in online school, and with a newly upgraded 100 Mbps Verizon FiOS connection, he thought the family wouldn’t have any problems. He was wrong. “Several times, I was kicked off in the middle of a conference (with a customer!) and had to reconnect,” Tang recalled. “The kids were similarly complaining about having to reconnect into their classrooms. We had no choice but to start taking turns using the Internet.”

Once Tang had a VMware SD-WAN Edge with 4G backup in hand, he was able to use the VMware Orchestrator to see that both his fiber and cellular connections were experiencing problems. In the article, he noted that SD-WAN was able to give them much better speeds despite packet loss. The whole family was back online again — at the same time.

Into the future of work

Although many Hughes employees are back in the office, some continue to work from home two days a week. Tippets noted: “To help them be successful, we need to make sure they have the tools they need.”

One of those tools is VMware Cloud Web Security™, part of VMware SASE™, said Kondala. Cloud Web Security is a cloud-hosted service that protects users and infrastructure accessing Software as a Service (SaaS) and Internet applications from threats, offering visibility, control, and compliance. “When Cloud Web Security was new, we enabled it with a subset of our work-from-home users, basically using them as beta testers. It’s been pretty simple and straightforward to use, it’s worked well.”

Now, having proven out the use case for SD-WAN at home with its own employees, Hughes makes its HughesON™ SD-WAN Work @ Home solution available to customers, combining the VMware edge service platform with HughesON Managed Services and the employees’ at-home broadband connection.

A version of this article first appeared as a post on the VMWare SASE website.