Global Retailer Trusts Lightstream for Network Connectivity Project Management

Lightstream coordinates and manages network connectivity services installation for all new warehouse openings, maintains corporate-wide network inventory, and oversees network modifications at over 800 existing sites.

Business Challenge

This company is a global, members-only retailer, with over 800 stores (i.e. warehouses) and a large membership base. Business projections are strong, and the company continues to grow, adding new members every month and opening 25-30 new warehouses per year globally.

Each warehouse is connected via a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network, with the recent addition of SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area networking) and broadband for highly-available multi-path networking capabilities.

Overseeing such a large network is complicated. Every change needs to be carefully planned and coordinated with the telecom provider to ensure project timelines are met and service is not disrupted.

Complexity can make this work cumbersome and frustrating. In the network connectivity space, relevant data such as circuit IDs, locations, circuit types, IP addresses, bandwidth, and more is vast and detailed. On top of that, provider billing systems are often inaccurate. Without near-constant attention to detail and a solid tracking system, network inventory can quickly get out of control, resulting in project delays and wasted money on unused services.

Before a new site can be operational, all network connectivity services must be installed and new circuits burned-in and tested. This requires coordination with contractors, telecom providers, and IT personnel with proper focus on project dates, milestones, and lead times in order to ensure a successful opening.

Solution

With network connectivity services such a complicated but vital part of its business operations, the company needed an organization with demonstrated expertise in the network connectivity industry that could manage and coordinate services with all of its service providers both for new installations and for changes at existing sites, coordinating with company facilities management, construction teams, and other third-party resources.

Today, Lightstream provides three client engagement managers (CEMs); two are dedicated to new warehouse openings, and the third focuses on existing facilities. For new warehouses, the CEMs are responsible for overseeing all project activity involving network connectivity services. This includes monitoring site surveys, ordering MPLS, internet, and voice circuits, testing circuits, coordinating with construction companies, coordinating with power companies, communicating project status, escalating issues, managing contract approvals, and all other tasks required to ensure network connectivity services are ready prior to a new warehouse opening. “Both Lightstream (CEMs) have been amazing in driving our network connectivity services work streams for new locations,” said one of the company’s IT IMAC (installation, moves, adds, changes) analysts.

At existing warehouses, the CEM helps manage network modifications. When installations, moves, adds, or changes to the network are required, the CEM interfaces with the company’s service providers and ensures work is completed successfully. On occasion, the CEM has been asked to take on additional work, as was the case with the company’s recent broadband deployment. “She (the CEM) understands what it takes to do a major broadband deployment,” said one the company’s infrastructure services project managers, “and she helped us navigate those waters with structure and clarity.”

In addition to project management services, Lightstream tracks the company’s network inventory via its Lightstream Connect platform, which provides a single pane of glass into the company’s technology spend and network. With Lightstream Connect, the company’s network connectivity team can get near real-time visibility of their entire network inventory, order status for any telecommunications services, and all contractual and technical detail of each service. This relationship has evolved and expanded over more than a decade.

Business Outcomes

Successful Network Connectivity Services IMACs (Installations, Moves, Adds, and Changes) at All Warehouse Locations

Lightstream provides the company with dedicated client engagement managers who are experts in network connectivity services and are adept at working with telecom companies, contractors, and power utilities. This delivers high-quality project management services to the company, helping to ensure successful IMACs at all the warehouse locations.

Fewer Challenges Dealing with Telecom Carriers

Having worked in the telecom industry for many years, Lightstream project managers understand how to get things done. They provide a single point of contact for network connectivity work and are experts at navigating vendor bureaucracy and solving problems, which results in fewer network connectivity services challenges.

Fewer challenges results in many benefits. First, the company’s staff spends less time working through issues and more time on project activities. Second, warehouse openings go smoother. Third, speed to implementation is increased, which helps ensure new warehouses are opened on time.

Near Real-time Access to Network Inventory

Lightstream Connect provides the network connectivity team an on-demand, accurate, up-to-date view of network inventory. The application provides an easy-to-use, intuitive interface into the company’s inventory database, giving both consolidated and detailed views of all network connectivity services across the entire organization.

Increased Carrier Billing Accuracy

Lightstream specialists not only track the company’s network inventory in Lightstream Connect but also periodically reconcile the company’s billing against expected contractual rates. This exposes billing irregularities, ensures accurate billing, and prevents the company from paying for services that are no longer needed.

Contact Information

To learn more about Lightstream Managed Services, visit www.lightstream.tech.

Large West Coast Bank Engages Lightstream and Saves Millions on WAN Costs

Lightstream helps the bank optimize its MPLS network configuration, renegotiates vendor contracts, and saves the bank millions of dollars a year.

Business Challenge

As a large banking institution, the company serves customers at over 80 locations in seven states, all connected to the headquarters site in California via a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) wide-area network (WAN). Each location has diverse-carrier, dual MPLS circuits for redundancy and load balancing.

When a new deputy CIO arrived at the company in 2018, he began looking for ways to improve service delivery and to lower operational costs. And he quickly zeroed in on the WAN.

At the time, the company had contracts for network services with AT&T, Lumen, Verizon, and Comcast. The IT team was holding four meetings a week—one with each provider—to review orders, discuss network issues, and get status updates. The deputy CIO felt this process was disjointed and inefficient and was causing savings opportunities to be overlooked.

The deputy CIO believed using an outside firm to review their network contracts could help the company get better pricing and save money. Having worked with Lightstream before, he had confidence in Lightstream’s technical expertise, so he brought the team in to review the bank’s network environment.

Solution

When Lightstream personnel engaged, their first action was to collect a complete inventory of the network. This included MPLS, dedicated internet access (DIA) connections, private lines, voice, POTS lines, broadband, and data center connectivity. The team pored over the bank’s invoices, compared charges with the circuit inventory from the carriers, and documented their findings.

The effort was immediately fruitful. Reviewing the invoices and comparing them against the inventory, the team checked expiration dates, flagging resources that were no longer being used but for which the bank was still paying.  This optimization led to immediate cost savings.

With an accurate inventory, Lightstream then submitted requirements back to the vendors, revised quotes for services, and worked as a liaison between the bank’s IT team and the vendors to ensure the company received optimal pricing and contract terms.

Business Outcomes

Millions in Annual Network Cost Savings

By taking a broad view of network services and bringing in an objective perspective, Lightstream was able to find ways to save the company money. Lightstream reconciled billing issues and worked with the telecom companies to renegotiate contracts. This effort saved the company $3.5 million annually on one vendor contract and nearly $3 million another, resulting in almost $6.5 million in total annual network cost savings.

Single Point of Contact for Vendor Communication

Prior to Lightstream getting involved, vendor communication was a challenge. At the time, the company held separate meetings with each vendor. This was time-consuming and inefficient, and it often led to miscommunication between service providers.

Engaging Lightstream solved this problem. The company now holds only one meeting a week with Lightstream technicians to review all orders, discuss status updates, explore pricing concerns, and resolve disputes with their providers. Lightstream represents all vendors and acts as the single point of contact, simplifying communications for the company and providing an advocate to help the organization get the best services possible at the best rates.

Consolidated Dashboard View of Network Inventory

When Lightstream was engaged, the first step was to collect an accurate network inventory. This information was then loaded into Lightstream ConnectTM, an industry-leading proprietary inventory management system that stores all of a customer’s telecommunications inventory data and provides a dashboard-driven interface for access to the information.

Connect allows the bank’s IT team to get an accurate, consolidated view of all their network inventory, making it easier for them to manage their network installation and to track updates.

Next Steps

Like most organizations, the bank plans to migrate many of its IT systems to the public cloud. While some workloads have been migrated already, the majority of the company’s applications still run on infrastructure in on-premises data centers.

To assist this effort, Lightstream provides Cloud Managed Services to assist the bank in technical, financial, and security optimization of its cloud assets. Lightstream cloud experts, acting as an extension of the company’s AWS team, are analyzing the bank’s current cloud financials, identifying cloud resources and costs, and recommending optimization steps that will enable the company to buy resources at lower cost and save money.

Today, the company spends nearly $250,000 per month on cloud infrastructure; and that amount is growing. Although Lightstream’s optimization work has just begun and results are pending, early projections are that the company could save $400,000 to $500,000 on its cloud spend annually.

Contact Information

To learn more about how Lightstream Managed Services can help you reduce network costs and improve service delivery, visitwww.lightstream.tech.