07 Apr TeraNova Hatches Wireless Backup Plan for Hidden Villa Ranch
Hidden Villa Ranch, one of the most innovative egg production and distribution companies in the nation, has invested significantly in communications technology and infrastructure over the years. The company’s IT team recently deployed a new fully meshed VPN WAN to interconnect 23 sites including its primary data center and a separate disaster recovery facility, among other efforts to ensure optimal communications, networking and continuity. However, given the nature of its business, many of the company’s farms as well as production and distribution facilities are in rural areas with limited local access options – and that has always presented a challenge.
The Internet service connections serving many of Hidden Villa Ranch’s rural locations are unreliable, frequently going down and disrupting business activities. “Mobile phones can serve as a decent workaround for losing voice communications, but losing data connectivity is a real problem,” explains Robert Sencer, IT Manager for the company. “Every time that happens at one of our locations they lose access to all of our critical business tools, including our email, ERP and warehouse management systems, which are hosted at our datacenter in Fullerton, Calif. That can cause major problems because we need those systems for virtually every business process including distribution, receiving and shipping. Without access to those systems, it can cost us thousands of dollars an hour.”
Several years ago, Sencer and his team tried to solve the problem with wireless backup utilizing 3G wireless services and integrating Cradlepoint routers into their primary wireline routers. However, the older Cradlepoint units, available 3G connectivity and failover mechanisms weren’t effective.
More recently, after years of company growth and becoming even more reliant on communications networking and systems availability, Sencer and his team revisited the idea of wireless backup while redesigning their WAN.
“During that process, NuResolution, our telecommunications consulting firm, brought TeraNova into the fold,” says Sencer. “We wanted wireless experts to help us flesh out potential solutions using the latest technology and 4G, and TeraNova did not disappoint.”
TeraNova conducted site surveys at various locations, analyzed signal strength of available carrier networks and recommended equipment with special antennas positioned to amplify wireless signals. However, it’s what TeraNova started doing after implementation that Sencer values most.
“We considered working directly with Verizon Wireless or AT&T,” he explains. “In fact, it would have been less expensive to do that. But we saw a lot of value in TeraNova’s support options and having their helpdesk monitoring everything so we could be more proactive in our approach to mitigating outages.”
Businesses that have direct contracts with wireless carriers frequently suffer from “bill shock” when wireless backup has been running unnoticed.
TeraNova’s monitoring tools and helpdesk technicians notify Sencer’s team when Hidden Villa Ranch’s wireless usage spikes outside of the norm. This alerts them that a primary link is down so they can quickly resolve it and prevent unforeseen overage charges on wireless backup. After the circuit is restored, the TeraNova team assesses the number of gigs left on the pooled network plan and, when needed, recommends countermeasures to prevent Hidden Villa Ranch from slipping into overages by the end of the billing cycle.
After teaming with TeraNova to implement a wireless backup solution at multiple rural locations, Hidden Villa Ranch has had a dramatic reduction in overall downtime, according to Sencer.
“We’ve had challenges due to outages since the day I started,” says the 17-year veteran of the company’s IT department. “Now, instead of having primary circuits down and enduring a period of hours or potentially days to get them resolved, we have immediate failover to a secondary service connection and notification that it has happened so we can start troubleshooting our primaries and get them back up as soon as possible.”
TeraNova has essentially become an extension of Hidden Villa Ranch’s IT engine, functioning as a critical cog to flag issues for faster resolution and help control runaway costs when wireless backup is utilized.
“We like the idea of having a partner advocate actively monitoring the 4G infrastructure and keeping tabs on it,” concludes Sencer. “We like it in practice, too. TeraNova’s team, systems and tools have been a tremendous benefit.”