Inside IT: Why Deltek Switched to Optical LAN

When ERP software and solutions vendor Deltek moved to a new headquarters, the company took a fresh look at its network needs and ultimately chose to deploy an optical LAN solution from telecom equipment provider Tellabs. In an interview earlier today, George Goforth, Deltek’s VP of IT, explained the factors that went into Deltek’s decision.

Optical LAN’s energy efficiency, manpower, and bandwidth benefits

Deltek’s new headquarters occupies four and a half floors and houses George Goforth, Deltek VP of ITapproximately 700 employees, Goforth told me. Within that facility, the vendor planned to set up a “Deltek University” training facility, a customer briefing and town hall center, boardrooms, a number of video conference rooms, and a data center. And as Goforth and his team began looking at the data, VoIP, and video needs of the new facility, as well as how much infrastructure Deltek would have to purchase, it became, in his words, “an opportune time” to make the switch from copper-based Ethernet to an optical LAN. “It’s much easier to look at a new overall architecture if you’re going into a new location,” he pointed out.

Energy efficiency played a major role in Deltek’s decision. The company considered not just its bandwidth needs but also factors like LAN closets, UPS power generator requirements, and electrical and air conditioning loads throughout the building. From this perspective, optical LAN made more sense than copper. It would need less air conditioning and draw less power from various building components, “because we wouldn’t have to put some of the switch fabric in there—we could run optical LAN all the way down to the data center,” Goforth said. He added, “When you’re looking at a couple of LAN closets per floor and suddenly don’t have to do any of that anymore, because it’s all optical all the way down to the data center,” optical becomes an attractive option.

Optical LAN would also save manpower, Goforth found. The new architecture meant that Deltek wouldn’t have to have “a stack of access switches on each floor that we would have to manage. Our optical LAN is not as complex,” he said, adding that “conventional LAN took more operational support on my staff’s part” thanks to the need to individually configure and maintain a large number of switches. “Physical equipment to manage is what it comes down to. There’s a definite reduction in the operational support that we have to provide,” he said.

And what about bandwidth?

“It was critical for us to get high bandwidth into the desktop,” Goforth said. Deltek’s new optical LAN delivers gigabit-to-the-desktop bandwidth, providing more flexibility, higher throughput overall, and better quality of service.

The optical LAN learning curve

One of the challenges of the switch, Goforth told me, was the paradigm shift involved in moving from conventional copper-based Ethernet to optical LAN. That challenge proved fairly easy to overcome, however. Deltek’s learning curve when it came to administering the new network was fairly brief and, Goforth said, “really wasn’t bad.”

Training took his team about “half a day of sitting down and walking through the technical aspects,” followed by hands-on experimentation, and “within a few days, the engineers were very comfortable with what they were doing and how to operate it,” he said. That’s when the real work began: testing and segregating traffic, creating private VLANs, and adding redundancy within the architecture to improve overall service.

“The biggest thing was making sure we got our training and understanding of how it operates, and then we were off and running,” Goforth said.

Optical LAN has provided Deltek with several critical benefits, Goforth told me: “Having the bandwidth has been a good point simply for throughput in terms of types of data and voice, where you’re looking for quality of service, but there are a lot of other areas where optical LAN has been beneficial, too. We felt like we were going to have a capital savings along with operational savings, so optical LAN was the model we went with.”

ENP editor Jude Chao Jude Chao is Executive Editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Follow her on Twitter @judechao.

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