CBTS: How People and Processes Empower SD-WAN Technology

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Joe Putnick, VP & principal, communications
Widely documented are tales of company leaders aligning principles of their leisure activities with their respective management styles. Andrew Wilson, for example, has cited his affinity for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in shaping the corporate culture at Electronic Arts. In the same vein, Joe Putnick is gaining a new perspective as a leader of people, while moonlighting as a swimming official. By officiating in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, not to mention his three children’s teams’ meets, Putnick is learning firsthand the challenges associated with creating a competitive environment that upholds virtues of sportsmanship. “Besides observing swimmers, and encouraging them to compete, it’s my job to ensure their safety within a friendly environment. Regardless of their athletic ability, there is no room for bias, and as a leader, I have to support everyone. I was moved while observing veterans with literally one limb compete against one another, and have used those experiences to motivate our employees at CBTS,” says Putnick, vice president and principal, communications of CBTS.

Putnick’s leadership style has played a pivotal role in CBTS—a technology company with a significant national presence—excelling in the arena of enterprise communications. Bolstered by deep capabilities across the IT and communications landscape, CBTS has emerged as an industry leader in aiding enterprises to transition their digital business communications from traditional MPLS networks to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). With Gartner projecting that 60 percent of the enterprises will phase out network VPNs in favor of SD-WAN by 2021, CBTS is in prime position to facilitate the sea change in the way businesses communicate. Through its SD-WAN solution, CBTS is enabling its clients to experience network-wide visibility, reduce barriers to using cloud-based applications and services, and lower total cost of ownership.

SD-WAN Solutions Driven by People and Processes

To maximize efficiency with regard to communications, Putnick firmly believes that a one-size-fits-all solution can never measure up to a customized one. “We don’t view SD-WAN as a specific product that can apply to any and every customer. We offer multiple solutions within the SD-WAN portfolio and assist our clients through the entire journey. To us, the people and processes enable the technology, and not the other way around,” stresses Putnick.

Indeed, the amalgam of people and processes has the proven track record to design purpose-built SD-WAN solutions for customers ranging from large enterprises with multiple locations, all the way down to a solitary site with one operator needing real-time applications such as VoIP. A number of CBTS’ clients are in the retail, transportation, and healthcare sectors, among other industries. “A few of our customers have over 4,000 locations. We wouldn’t be able to enable so many sites without our proven people and processes,” says Putnick.

To serve 4,000 locations for just one customer, not to mention a total of over 2,000 customers across 50 American states and Canada, is obviously a tall order. That’s why CBTS creates pods of employees and pits them against each other in the spirit of competition. Each pod comprises a team lead, a project manager, and a few service delivery engineers with rich expertise in SD-WAN. “We’ll have Pod 1 and Pod 3 vying against each other and this healthy competition results in exceptional customer service,” adds Putnick. Even before the pods go the extra mile to serve the clients, the company’s work culture plays a critical role in breeding client interactions. With its origins dating back over 150 years, CBTS has inculcated longstanding family values within a team that comprises several third and fourth generation employees. “As a family, we are inclusive to each other and act with humility and integrity. These values hold us in good stead during client meetings because of the impression we leave behind. That’s why we reiterate to our team, ‘make that first meeting a memorable experience for the client and treat customers like family,’” he emphasizes.
Biggest Market Differentiator: SD-WAN Vendor & Bandwidth-Agnostic Solution

SD-WAN from CBTS is not married to a particular vendor or bandwidth provider. “Since we are bandwidth-agnostic, we give clients the freedom to choose the best option for their business. Beyond the feature sets of any SD-WAN, we build solutions that center on enriching the end-user experience, reducing complexity and cost. We are able to build these purpose-built solutions following our four-step journey of Consult. Build. Transform. Support,” informs Putnick.

The four-step journey starts with CBTS consulting clients on their vision for a WAN. “After building the customized design for a network, we move into our documentation phase that captures what the end solution will look like. Once we get the approval, we enter (some) customers into a Proof of Concept phase, before initiating full implementation,” adds Putnick. Post implementation, CBTS provides the modern infrastructure to support the customer’s continued growth, which includes the capability to integrate cloud-based applications and services.

Beyond the feature sets of any SD-WAN, we build solutions that center on enriching the end-user experience, reducing complexity and cost

Within a few weeks of deployment, clients are able to address performance-related issues due to latency, transform their business outcomes with real-time operations, and reduce IT budgets by eliminating data center upgrades and redesign costs.

Value Additions at Every Step of the Journey

The following success story elucidates how CBTS takes its clients through the four-step journey of Consult, Build, Transform, and Support. The client, a staffing and recruiting company, was experiencing significant growth and opening an average of two branches every six months, to add to its existing eight offices. Hamstrung by legacy technology, the client struggled to manage a disparate network of voice applications and lacked the visibility into the entire network infrastructure. As a result, the client experienced uneven call quality across sites, struggled to manage multiple firewalls, and spent more time troubleshooting than focusing on its core business. CBTS stepped in, designed a custom-built, outcome-based network by deploying its SD-WAN solution, before centralizing the client’s internet through a single firewall at its headquarters. Post deployment, the client enjoyed a substantially higher quality of voice at its locations—including real-time voice and videos even when 40 percent of the packets were lost. Importantly, the client could rely on the network to support all its cloud-based applications and now had the redundant connectivity to leverage UCaaS and SaaS applications.

Driving ahead, CBTS will attempt to solve the million dollar question facing the enterprise communications spectrum: can 5G and Wi-Fi coexist in the IoT-driven landscape? To explore the question, CBTS offers a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) as part of a Service Now solution, allowing clients to migrate between Wi-Fi and DAS. “Since the future is going to 5G, we are figuring out the complexities in migrating from Wi-Fi to 5G. What applications can actually migrate?” ponders Putnick.

CBTS will also work toward enhancing the application layer policy of its SD-WAN solution, which essentially allows the solution to react to a client’s traffic. “If there’s congestion between two endpoints—the customer edge and a cloud gateway—our application layer policy starts packet replication and re-assembly,” concludes Putnick. CBTS is also invested in helping clients use data generated from within their SD-WAN networks to make better business decisions and drive business outcomes.


Cincinnati, OH

Joe Putnick, VP & principal, communications

An enterprise communications solution provider, CBTS enables for its clients network-wide visibility, reduced barriers in using cloud-based applications and services, and reduced total cost of ownership. Serving over 2,000 customers across 50 American states and Canada, CBTS designs purpose-built SD-WAN solutions for customers ranging from large enterprises with multiple locations, all the way down to a solitary site with one operator needing real-time applications such as VoIP. Since SD-WAN from CBTS is not married to a particular vendor or bandwidth provider, the company’s clients have the freedom of choosing different vendors and options for their respective businesses