Umbra Uses CTA’s Managed MPLS Solution to Connect its Locations Across Four Continents

Umbra is one of the world’s most innovative housewares product design companies. A global company based in Toronto, Canada, Umbra brings intelligent design to everyday items. The company develops and manufactures modern housewares products ranging from furniture and frames to bath and kitchen products to entirely new categories of everyday items.

The company was established in 1979 when one of the founders couldn’t find a window shade he liked for his apartment. Instead, he created his own — and the company was born. Umbra (which means “shade” in Latin) is still led by the original two founders.

The company reimagines everyday items and creates objects that designers would appreciate, give as gifts or use themselves at home. Today, Umbra sells more than 2,000 home products through 25,000 retailers in 120 countries. Its products include wall décor and picture frames, window rods, jewelry storage, bathroom and closet organization, kitchen gadgets and furniture.

Umbra has numerous locations on four continents: in Asia (Shenzhen, China), North America (Toronto, Canada and Buffalo, New York), Europe (over 30 countries) and South America (São Paolo, Brazil). Umbra’s main manufacturing plant is in Shenzhen, China, with warehouses in Toronto, Buffalo, and Shenzhen.1 The company’s vast IT resources and network are shared across all locations from its hosted data center in Toronto. Umbra also provides IT services to its smaller sister company, TCH, an industrial and case hardware manufacturer headquartered in Toronto. TCH’s North American facilities are located in Toronto, Buffalo and Dallas.

Business Challenge

Several years ago, Umbra invested in a centralized MPLS [Multi-Protocol Label Switching] network for all of its major computing functions across the globe. The hosted data center in Toronto includes the ERP system and all of Umbra’s manufacturing and distribution software.

Having a reliable MPLS connection that is always on and accessible worldwide is very important. Without a connection to the data center in Toronto, the production lines stand still and distribution comes to a halt — which affects customer expectations and satisfaction, as well as revenue.

Customer Problem

Umbra experienced several issues with its previous North America-based MPLS provider, including:

• An unreliable network and packet loss

• Inadequate support

• Little or no visibility as to when a problem would be fixed

• Bureaucratic and slow response times

In addition, Umbra had to manage the routers on the MPLS network themselves. Eventually, the previous provider added managed services for the MPLS, but “it took months to implement at just one site,” said Scott Peter, Umbra’s IT infrastructure manager. “Another issue was that network problems required submitting an online help ticket to report, which typically resulted in long wait times for an email response with a scheduled fix. It dragged on and on, and [the process] was very painful.”

To efficiently conduct IT worldwide business, Umbra required:

• A stable network with a proven MPLS provider that would quickly respond and resolve any problems in a timely manner;

• Reliable MPLS managed services for 24/7 uptime;

• Lower cost of service and support; and

• Global reach.

Why Umbra Chose China Telecom Americas

“The attraction to China Telecom Americas was its strength and footprint in the Asia Pacific region,” Peter said. “We wanted better network performance and reliability from Shenzhen to Toronto.”

“China Telecom Americas was able to solve the latency problem with guaranteed 230 milliseconds latency. Our previous provider offered that, too, but in reality they were always at 300 milliseconds. It was tough to get them to acknowledge there was a problem with the Service Level Agreement. There were even problems with billing. Nothing went smoothly.”

In 2012, Umbra moved its network to China Telecom Americas, ending its affiliation with a large North America based provider.

How China Telecom is Different

Unlike the North America-based service providers, China Telecom is the world’s largest and fastest fixed line and broadband network operator. They deliver superior results by investing more than any other provider in terrestrial and cable infrastructure, including cloud, terrestrial and submarine cables. In addition, China Telecom:

• Owns 70 percent of the fixed line infrastructure in China

• Owns 80 percent share of the Chinese data center market

• Operates 70+ PoPs in key metro areas around the world, including more than 300 PoPs in China

The team supporting Umbra — along with the network operations center (NOC) — is based in Los Angeles, which offers numerous advantages:

• The team in Los Angeles is bilingual and many are native Chinese.

• Because the Pacific Time zone in Los Angeles overlaps with the business day in China, help is just a phone call away. Umbra doesn’t have to send an email and wait 12 hours for a response — and they don’t have to call in the middle of the night.

• China Telecom Americas has a U.S. project manager who works closely with the Umbra team in Canada — in addition to the team of network engineers — for ongoing 24/7 support.

Customer Solution — Managed MPLS Private Data Network and Global Internet Service

China Telecom Americas delivered an end-to-end, managed MPLS solution with QoS [Quality of Service] that was tailored to Umbra’s specific needs and a Service Level Agreement that guaranteed up-time of 99.9 percent.

The solution also included expanded bandwidth and global Internet service — and was implemented successfully in a very short timeframe.

Fast, Smooth Implementation

Peter oversaw the entire implementation. “We had 60 days to implement the China Telecom Americas solution. We were on a tight timeline,” he explained.

“One of the things that impressed me was that China Telecom Americas was extremely customer service-focused. They dropped everything when we needed them. Things got done and, if there was a problem, I could just call our rep and get someone from China Telecom Americas right away. No matter what the problem was, we could easily get someone who could manage the router, get us up and running, cut us over, or do whatever needed to be done.”

“It was almost as if we had one dedicated person. China Telecom Americas was always available and easy to reach, and its engineer based in Los Angeles was very, very good at what he did. Everything went really fast and smoothly.”

Quality of Service and Traffic Shaping

With its complete service approach, China Telecom Americas also provided Umbra with traffic shaping — and “we didn’t even have to ask for it,” Peter noted. “We were able to put Quality of Service on the MPLS, which was very important to us for CITRIX and VoIP optimization. We were able to do that right at the network level. All we had to do was tell China Telecom Americas what traffic we needed to optimize and they would put it in. It was simple to do and it was quickly implemented.”

— Dramatic Improvement in Network Performance and Productivity

Umbra increased its network performance and efficiency, saving time and money. Since switching its network to China Telecom Americas, Umbra now enjoys a wide range of benefits:

Less down time— an optimized, stable and improved MPLS network

Improved business productivity — increased revenue, increased production and cost savings due to network efficiency and reliability

Shorter response time — network problems are quickly addressed and resolve

Better value —”With China Telecom, we also increased our bandwidth, bringing greater value to our business,” Peter said. “The previous provider might have been able to undercut the cost, but we would still have their bureaucracy and high latency.”

Convenience — “Before, we had one provider for MPLS and another provider for Internet. With China Telecom Americas providing both services, we switched over to one bill. Everything became easy now that we only have one provider and one bill to deal with. If we have issues with anything, we only have one person we need to call.”

Partnership with China Telecom Americas Delivers Lasting Benefits

Consistent, fast and centralized service and reliable connections across continents have been critical to Umbra’s success. Umbra’s partnership with China Telecom Americas enables performance that allows the company to focus on continuous improvement and innovation as they develop next generation products for their customers throughout the world.

To learn how China Telecom Americas can help your business, contact China Telecom Americas sales at sales@ctamericas.com

Case Study: Fast-Growing Global Equipment Manufacturer Chooses China Telecom Americas to Connect All of its Locations Worldwide

Douglas Dynamics, Inc. Overview

Home to the most trusted brands in the industry for 65 years, Douglas Dynamics is North America’s premier manufacturer of vehicle attachments and equipment for snow and ice management, customized truck solutions, turf care and industrial maintenance.

Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Douglas Dynamics has received numerous industry awards and has been named one of the fastest-growing public companies in Wisconsin for the past three years. Partnering with dealers, suppliers and end users, the company has 10 locations around the globe, including over a dozen product engineers and sourcing specialists in Beijing, its only location in China.

Douglas Dynamics, a NYSE public company (PLOW), is also known for its innovative high-quality products that help its customers in North America — and in many parts of Europe and China — increase efficiency, productivity and profitability. Its well-known brands include FISHER, SnowEx, WESTERN (snow and ice management); Henderson (truck equipment); TurfEx (turf care) and SweepEx (industrial maintenance). Douglas Dynamics manufactures its products at three locations in the United States — Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Business Challenge

Douglas Dynamics uses one main server, located at its headquarters in Milwaukee, for all of its data and voice transmissions. It uses a cloud-based telecommunications system. Employees across all of the company’s brands access and transmit data and files 24/7 from any device, through a CITRIX Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) connection.

With international operations and geographically dispersed personnel, Douglas Dynamics needs reliable, fast and secure connections that are always on, providing access to all employees across its many locations throughout the world.

In addition, the Chinese Internet is oversubscribed. China is the largest Internet market in the world with over 670 million users — three times greater than the U.S. This massive number of people using the Internet results in a congested and slow experience, particularly at peak hours throughout the day. High levels of latency and packet loss can be commonplace.

“China is the factory to the world and the world’s largest Internet market. China Telecom Americas knows this market and has made greater investments in Chinese infrastructure than any other provider.”

– Jon Crane, IT Analyst, Douglas Dynamics

Customer Problem

The Douglas Dynamics engineers and sourcing specialists in Beijing need the ability to transmit and receive voice and data packets that are housed on the server in Milwaukee.

But for several years, the company struggled with inconsistent and often unreliable Internet connections in China. With limited connections, Douglas Dynamics employees in China could not use the company’s data systems they needed for their jobs, or communicate with their colleagues at other locations around the world.

Douglas Dynamics’ commitment to delivering industry-leading products to its customers, maintaining close relationships with partners, and continuous innovation and improvement is part of the company’s DNA. Advancing technology is a critical component of its market strategy, and the challenges with connectivity were significant impediments to that principle.

“When we opened our location in Beijing, we used a different MPLS [Multi- Protocol Label Switching] provider. They were expensive, but reliable,” said Jon Crane, IT Analyst at Douglas Dynamics. “After a few years, we decided to try an Internet-based solution for a variety of reasons, and we immediately started having network problems. We then tried a few different international carriers, but none could provide the low latency and security we needed. The network kept going down, and we were very frustrated. We didn’t have an MPLS connection for over three years. And then we found China Telecom Americas.”

Why Douglas Dynamics Chose China Telecom Americas

“What impressed us most about China Telecom Americas was its local expertise in China,” Crane noted. “Unlike the North American-based carriers, China Telecom specializes in networks running in China. They have good local contacts, know the culture and speak the language, making it a smooth transition. We were pleased that the sales and engineering team understood our problem, but didn’t try to push a pre-packaged solution on us.”

How China Telecom is Different

China Telecom has the Best Infrastructure in China

Unlike the North American-based service providers, China Telecom is the world’s largest — and fastest — fixed line and broadband network operator. They deliver superior results by investing more than any other provider in terrestrial and cable infrastructure, including cloud, terrestrial and submarine cables. In addition, China Telecom:

  • Owns 70 percent of the fixed line infrastructure in China
  • Owns 80 percent share of the Chinese data center market
  • Operates 70+ PoPs in key metro areas around the world, including more than 300 PoPs in China

Teams are Both Local and Global — Always Available and No Language Barriers

The team supporting Douglas Dynamics — along with the network operations center (NOC) — is based in Los Angeles, which offers numerous advantages:

  • The team in Los Angeles is bilingual and many are native Chinese.
  • Because the Pacific Time zone in Los Angeles overlaps with the business day in China, help is just a phone call away. Douglas Dynamics doesn’t have to send an email and wait 12 hours for a response — and they don’t have to call in the middle of the night.
  • China Telecom Americas has a U.S. project manager who works closely with the Douglas Dynamics team in the U.S. — in addition to the team of network engineers — for ongoing 24/7 support.

Customer Solution — MPLS Private Data Network and Global Internet Service

China Telecom Americas provided a 2 MB end-to-end MPLS solution with a Service Level Agreement that guaranteed up-time of 99.9 percent. The new system was up and running within six weeks.

Because the MPLS solution is a private network, it circumvents all of the problems related to the Chinese firewall and Internet capacity roadblocks.

Results — Reliable Performance at a Competitive Price Point

China Telecom America’s vast network of Points-of-Presence (PoPs) within the United States and throughout China made it possible to efficiently use a private MPLS data network that can reliably connect Douglas Dynamics’ Beijing location with its headquarters in Milwaukee. China Telecom Americas provides a number of high-value benefits to its customers:

  • Secure, reliable high-speed data transport
  • Guaranteed low latency
  • Minimized levels of packet loss
  • An optimized network that best addresses Chinese infrastructure
  • Faster time to market: implemented within six weeks
  • Very competitive pricing

“It was easy to develop a good relationship with China Telecom Americas. They have a small company feel and they’re very responsive. The entire team is very competent and well-versed on the problem and solution. Having a telecom provider with a network operations center (NOC) in Los Angeles and a backup NOC in China supports our on-going network needs. The time zone overlaps with the business day in Beijing, which is much more efficient than having a team based on the East Coast.” – Jon Crane, IT Analyst, Douglas Dynamics

Partnership with China Telecom Americas Delivers Lasting Benefits

Consistent levels of service and reliable connections across continents have been critical to Douglas Dynamics’ success. Their partnership with China Telecom Americas enables performance that allows the company to focus on continuous improvement and innovation as they develop next generation products for their customers throughout the world.

To learn how China Telecom Americas can help your business, please contact China Telecom Americas sales at sales@ctamericas.com

Case Study: Global Housewares Product Designer and Manufacturer Uses China Telecom Americas’ Managed MPLS Solution to Connect its Locations Across Four Continents

Umbra Overview

Umbra is one of the world’s most innovative housewares product design companies. A global company based in Toronto, Canada, Umbra brings intelligent design to everyday items. The company develops and manufactures modern housewares products ranging from furniture and frames to bath and kitchen products to entirely new categories of everyday items.

The company was established in 1979 when one of the founders couldn’t find a window shade he liked for his apartment. Instead, he created his own — and the company was born. Umbra (which means “shade” in Latin) is still led by the original two founders.

The company reimagines everyday items and creates objects that designers would appreciate, give as gifts or use themselves at home. Today, Umbra sells more than 2,000 home products through 25,000 retailers in 120 countries. Its products include wall décor and picture frames, window rods, jewelry storage, bathroom and closet organization, kitchen gadgets and furniture.

Umbra has numerous locations on four continents: in Asia (Shenzhen, China), North America (Toronto, Canada and Buffalo, New York), Europe (over 30 countries) and South America (São Paolo, Brazil). Umbra’s main manufacturing plant is in Shenzhen, China, with warehouses in Toronto, Buffalo, and Shenzhen.1 The company’s vast IT resources and network are shared across all locations from its hosted data center in Toronto. Umbra also provides IT services to its smaller sister company, TCH, an industrial and case hardware manufacturer headquartered in Toronto. TCH’s North American facilities are located in Toronto, Buffalo and Dallas.

Business Challenge

Several years ago, Umbra invested in a centralized MPLS [Multi-Protocol Label Switching] network for all of its major computing functions across the globe. The hosted data center in Toronto includes the ERP system and all of Umbra’s manufacturing and distribution software.

Having a reliable MPLS connection that is always on and accessible worldwide is very important. Without a connection to the data center in Toronto, the production lines stand still and distribution comes to a halt — which affects customer expectations and satisfaction, as well as revenue.

“China Telecom Americas was extremely customer service-focused. They dropped everything when we needed them.” – Scott Peter, Umbra IT Infrastructure Manager  

Customer Problem

Umbra experienced several issues with its previous North America-based MPLS provider, including:

  • An unreliable network and packet loss
  • Inadequate support
  • Little or no visibility as to when a problem would be fixed
  • Bureaucratic and slow response times

In addition, Umbra had to manage the routers on the MPLS network themselves. Eventually, the previous provider added managed services for the MPLS, but “it took months to implement at just one site,” said Scott Peter, Umbra’s IT infrastructure manager. “Another issue was that network problems required submitting an online help ticket to report, which typically resulted in long wait times for an email response with a scheduled fix. It dragged on and on, and [the process] was very painful.”

To efficiently conduct IT worldwide business, Umbra required:

  • A stable network with a proven MPLS provider that would quickly respond and resolve any problems in a timely manner;
  • Reliable MPLS managed services for 24/7 uptime;
  • Lower cost of service and support; and
  • Global reach.

Why Umbra Chose China Telecom Americas

“The attraction to China Telecom Americas was its strength and footprint in the Asia Pacific region,” Peter said. “We wanted better network performance and reliability from Shenzhen to Toronto.”

“China Telecom Americas was able to solve the latency problem with guaranteed 230 milliseconds latency. Our previous provider offered that, too, but in reality they were always at 300 milliseconds. It was tough to get them to acknowledge there was a problem with the Service Level Agreement. There were even problems with billing. Nothing went smoothly. Since   moving to China Telecom we have experienced a  level of customer service that continually exceeds our expectations.”

In 2012, Umbra moved its network to China Telecom Americas, ending its affiliation with a large North America based provider.

How China Telecom is Different

Unlike the North America-based service providers, China Telecom is the world’s largest — and fastest — fixed line and broadband network operator. They deliver superior results by investing more than any other provider in terrestrial and cable infrastructure, including cloud, terrestrial and submarine cables. In addition, China Telecom:

  • Owns 70 percent of the fixed line infrastructure in China
  • Owns 80 percent share of the Chinese data center market
  • Operates 70+ PoPs in key metro areas around the world, including more than 300 data centers  in China

Teams are Both Local and Global — Always Available and No Language Barriers

The team supporting Umbra — along with the network operations center (NOC) — is based in Los Angeles, which offers numerous advantages:

  • The team in Los Angeles is bilingual and many are native Chinese.
  • Because the Pacific Time zone in Los Angeles overlaps with the business day in China, help is just a phone call away. Umbra doesn’t have to send an email and wait 12 hours for a response — and they don’t have to call in the middle of the night.
  • China Telecom Americas has a U.S. project manager who works closely with the Umbra team in Canada — in addition to the team of network engineers — for ongoing 24/7 support.

Customer Solution — Managed MPLS Private Data Network and Global Internet Service

China Telecom Americas delivered an end-to-end, managed MPLS solution with QoS [Quality of Service] that was tailored to Umbra’s specific needs and a Service Level Agreement that guaranteed up-time of 99.9 percent.

The solution also included expanded bandwidth and global Internet service — and was implemented successfully in a very short timeframe.

Fast, Smooth Implementation

Peter oversaw the entire implementation. “We had 60 days to implement the China Telecom Americas solution. We were on a tight timeline,” he explained.

“One of the things that impressed me was that China Telecom Americas was extremely customer service-focused. They dropped everything when we needed them. Things got done and, if there was a problem, I could just call our rep and get someone from China Telecom Americas right away. No matter what the problem was, we could easily get someone who could manage the router, get us up and running, cut us over, or do whatever needed to be done.”

“It was almost as if we had one dedicated person. China Telecom Americas was always available and easy to reach, and its engineer based in Los Angeles was very, very good at what he did. Everything went really fast and smoothly.”

Quality of Service and Traffic Shaping

With its complete service approach, China Telecom Americas also provided Umbra with traffic shaping — and “we didn’t even have to ask for it,” Peter noted. “We were able to put Quality of Service on the MPLS, which was very important to us for CITRIX and VoIP optimization. We were able to do that right at the network level. All we had to do was tell China Telecom Americas what traffic we needed to optimize and they would put it in. It was simple to do and it was quickly implemented.”

“Our billing, management, visibility and support are handled a lot better. China Telecom Americas makes it easy to do business with them, and we have been pleased to have them as our network partner.”  – Scott Peter, Umbra IT Infrastructure Manager

Results — Dramatic Improvement in Network Performance and Productivity

Umbra increased its network performance and efficiency, saving time and money. Since switching its network to China Telecom Americas, Umbra now enjoys a wide range of benefits:

  • Less down time — an optimized, stable and improved MPLS network
  • Improved business productivity — increased revenue, increased production and cost savings due to network efficiency and reliability
  • Shorter response time — network problems are quickly addressed and resolved
  • Better value — “With China Telecom, we also increased our bandwidth, bringing greater value to our business,” Peter said. “The previous provider might have been able to undercut the cost, but we’d still have their bureaucracy and high latency.”
  • Convenience — “Before, we had one provider for MPLS and another provider for Internet. With China Telecom Americas providing both services, we switched over to one bill. Everything became easy now that we only have one provider — and one bill — to deal with. If we have issues with anything, we only have one person we need to call.”

Partnership with China Telecom Americas Delivers Lasting Benefits

Consistent, fast and centralized service and reliable connections across continents have been critical to Umbra’s success. Its partnership with China Telecom Americas enables performance that allows the company to focus on continuous improvement and innovation as they develop next generation products for their customers

To learn how China Telecom Americas can help your business, please contact China Telecom Americas sales at sales@ctamericas.com

Case Study: Sterigenics MPLS Network Solution in China

Sterigenics needed a reliable network solution for their China offices to run their ERP system. The network proved to be very reliable and performance superior to the previous infrastructure.

  • Challenge: Sterigenics needed a reliable network solution for their China offices to run their ERP system.
  • Solution: China Telecom Americas proposed a CN2 MPLS VPN solution with Managed routers.
  • Key Benefits: The CN2 MPLS VPN solution with Managed routers came with SLA covering the congested Trans-Pacific portion between the United States and China. After a quick an efficient installation the network supporting two sites in Shanghai and one in the US has proved to be very reliable and performance superior to the previous infrastructure.

Sterigenics International, Inc Headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, IL, Sterigenics International, Inc., is a leading global provider of contract sterilization solutions and radiation processing services. With 38 facilities across North America, Europe and Asia, Sterigenics is the only company in the world to offer technology in all leading sterilization modalities. As a result of this broad-based network, customers around the world receive the convenience of cutting-edge technology and expert technical support close to their production and distribution facilities.

Sterigenics attracts clients which span multiple sectors and markets, including firms within the medical device, pharmaceutical, and food safety industries. Sterigenics anticipated a major growth in network traffic in their expanding Shanghai activities. The IT Department needed to have a reliable network solution for the China facilities to access their global ERP system. The initial IP circuit was adequate for light usage, but due to the congestion on the public Internet, it was difficult to get the performance they needed from their IP SEC VPN tunnel between Shanghai and the United States. From Shanghai to North America to the heart of the European Union, Sterigenics International is expanding—building new facilities and enlarging existing ones, to bring the latest in technology and increased speed-to-market to medical device manufactures worldwide.

Working Together
China Telecom Americas and Sterigenics began to work together around the same time that Sterigenics was beginning construction on their second facility in Shanghai. At that point, higher bandwidth network solutions were required to support their newly-implemented global enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. The Chicago Office of China Telecom Americas reached out to Sterigenics, the concerns were discussed and a plan of action was developed. Mike Smith, Vice President of IT at Sterigenics, explains: “After describing our application environment and networking requirements, the China Telecom Americas sales team and engineers presented a couple of options, from which we selected the one that would best work for us both functionally and within our budget. China Telecom Americas also understood that we did not have staff on the ground in China, so we required a solution that they could install, monitor, and support.” At the beginning, the service was a 2M IP Access line, which kept costs low for Sterigenics. This level of service was maintained for nearly two years. However, due increased congestion, the IT department at Sterigenics came to realize that MPLS was a better solution for them so China Telecom Americas migrated the Sterigenics network to MPLS.

Solutions that Worked
China Telecom Americas proposed a CN2 MPLS VPN solution with managed routers. This service came with an SLA covering the congested trans-pacific portion between China and the United States. After a quick and efficient installation the network supporting two sites in Shanghai and one in the US (Downers Grove IL) has proven to be very reliable and performance superior to the previous infrastructure. In addition China Telecom configured and installed the routers in Shanghai and is managing these routers proactively through their NetCare service giving Stergienics IT staff the flexibility to focus on other strategic areas in their business while China Telecom does the proactive monitoring. In addition to the MPLS solution, CTA also proposed and provided a backup private line between the two locations in Shanghai so in the event one of the locations fails, the network will automatically reroute to the other location via the private line. This addresses the business continuity for the Shanghai locations and mitigates the risk for any operational and production issues.

In The End
An MPLS solution was selected to connect Sterigenics’ two operating facilities in China; a separate leased line between the sites provides essential backup. Through China Telecom’s services, local customers can now access Sterigenics’ global ERP environment and also utilize an automated data collection bar coding system.

China Telecom’s round-the-clock support and monitoring meant Sterigenics could launch its global ERP environment in China without having to invest in on-site IT resources or a 24-hour operational support staff. Since implementation, China Telecom Americas has been able to continue customizing its service to accommodate Sterigenics’ international growth strategy. Sterigenics credits China Telecom Americas with playing a key role in helping them pave their way to success in China. With the continued assistance of China Telecom Americas, Sterigenics is currently exploring the possibility of expanding to other parts of the Asia-Pacific region, where China Telecom has additional resources to deliver and extend the CN2 MPLS VPN network.

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