While remote work from home solutions (WFH) have been cropping up like dandelions this summer, not all of them are created equal, according to Segra's president and COO.
Late last month, Segra, which is one of the largest fiber infrastructure companies in the Eastern U.S., launched its Remote Office LAN service to provide remote workers with some of the same features and functionality that they're used to having in their office locations.
"We launched our Remote Office LAN products in direct response to what we were seeing from our customers, as well as what we were seeing ourselves from the COVID-19 challenge with more employees working from home," said Segra President and COO Greg Guerra. "In our case, 90% of our employees were going home for that period of time. We clearly saw the need for what looked like an enterprise-class office solution.
"The idea was to create an experience that mimics corporate environments. Meaning it's enterprise class, which has the resiliency and redundancy you would expect, and it provides a secure connection as you disperse your employee base."
Using a LAN, the service connects remote workers to their corporate Wi-Fi networks. The service includes Segra's hosted firewall, which is based on Fortinet's firewalls, and encrypted secure connections. It can also be bundled with Segra's cloud-based collaboration tool, Segra Unity.
The new offering is based on Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service and E3000 Series router, which includes multi-WAN connectivity, PoE-enabled switching, and Wi-Fi 6.
NetCloud provides remote office WAN and LAN management, enterprise-class routing, application-based QoS, SD-WAN traffic control, device-to-cloud connectivity and unified edge security with firewall, web filtering and threat detection.
With redundant WAN connections, traffic can be managed utilizing SD-WAN while utilizing third-party broadband and LTE/5G for additional or failover connections. Remote Office LAN uses single a sign-on (SSO) capability, allows corporate security remote access control and includes the NetCloud management platform from Cradlepoint for central device management and configuration.
Guerra said Segra competes with cable operators and ILEC's across its nine-state footprint. Over the past five months or so of the coronavirus pandemic, service providers and vendors have been coming up with various WFH solutions. With millions of employees working from home or working from anywhere, remote workers have had to share their residential internet connections with other members of the household who are using them for online gaming or remote learning.
The initial stages of COVID-19 shelter in place policies led to organizations scrambling to set up their WFH solutions. Since the early days of Covid-19, service providers have been coming up with improved solutions. According to a survey by Gartner, 74% of the CFOs plan on shifting at least some of their workers to home environments on a permanent bases.
While AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink and Cox Business, among others, have launched new WFH solutions, Guerra said some of the new solutions are one-dimensional.
"We're seeing some of them try solve the problem with speed increases, with bandwidth increases," he said. "In some cases, they're (service providers) doubling their speeds and calling them business products. Depending on the needs of the end user that may work just fine.
"We think our product is a little different. It leverages multiple connections to be more resilient. It has inherent security applications as part of it. So it's not just a traditional broadband service."
Guerra said the new service also dovetailed nicely with the recent expansion of Segra's fiber footprint. In May, Segra bought NorthState for an undisclosed sum. The deal expanded Segra's fiber footprint by close to 3,000 miles and gave it a bigger presence in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.
Segra owns and operates a fiber infrastructure network of more than 30,000 miles that connects over 10,000 locations and six data centers across nine Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states.
In addition to managed services, Segra provides Ethernet, MPLS, dark fiber, advanced data center services, IP services, voice and cloud solutions. Its Customers include carriers, enterprises, governments, and healthcare organizations.