Organizations today are facing the challenge of the proliferation of applications in multiple public and private clouds. Furthermore, companies that have multiple locations and branch offices often struggle to optimize and protect their network properly. The pace of change in IT and the complexity of managing networks can often leave the users wanting for more when it comes to application performance. Addressing this challenge with its Cisco-based SD-WAN solution is Albany, NY-based firm, FirstLight.
Founded in 1999, the company has been building and operating its own fiber optic network across the Northeast U.S., which is architected for services ranging from Dark Fiber to 100Gbps waves to Internet, voice services, cloud computing, data protection, managed Cisco solutions and more. The network spans more than 15,000 miles, connecting nearly 9,000 locations (including business premises and cellular towers) with an additional 30,000 locations in its serviceable region. With fiber connectivity to the FirstLight cloud, as well as public cloud providers like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, FirstLight is well positioned to help clients connect their users to their critical applications over a high performance, software defined network. To this end, all of the company’s products help customers optimize their network. “With our performance-oriented network, we assist businesses in enhancing the performance of accessing their applications, regardless of their location,” says Russ Chase, VP of Advanced Technologies at FirstLight.
The company’s clientele includes many industry-leading enterprises from the healthcare, finance, government, and education sectors, among others. While engaging with customers, FirstLight’s Cisco expertise provides a full lifecycle approach that includes implementation, monitoring, support, consulting and assessment services to ensure applications perform their best anytime, anywhere. The company’s methodology comprises of managed services and implementation support. Everything from implementations and upgrades, system monitoring to ensure efficiency and maximum uptime, to issue resolution and daily administration. Coordinated planning and strategy through business and technical reviews enable their customers to adapt to changing requirements while remaining competitive.
Moreover, FirstLight offers advanced device replacement services with round-the-clock support for the ongoing management and maintenance processes. Discussing the core competencies of his company, Russ elaborates, “We let our clients choose between managing and co-managing their network so that they can utilize our engineering expertise in tandem with their organization-specific needs. This is a unique approach in the industry and it helps our customers find the perfect fit for a partnership with FirstLight.”
At the heart of FirstLight’s Advanced Technologies capabilities is its partnership with a leading technology provider, Cisco. Having been a Cisco Premier Partner for over two decades, FirstLight leverages Cisco’s capabilities to design complete managed solutions to expand existing customer relationships as well as securely implement new solutions utilizing FirstLight’s fiber. “Our partnership with Cisco allows us to provide best-of-breed technologies to ensure an efficient and secure network for our clients,” states Chase.
Highlighting the efficacy of the company’s network and connectivity solutions is a client success story where FirstLight assisted a highly distributed financial institution (100 branches) in making their network more resilient to cyber threats. In this project, the company developed an SD-WAN proof of concept (POC) to ensure that the customer realized FirstLight’s capability in not only making their network perform better, but also leveraging all their network resources across various geographies. Following this, the company rapidly performed the software templating and hardware engineering processes before shipping plugin devices that were pre-configured to the client’s specific requirements to all of the financial firm’s branches.
According to Chase, his company has created a unique position in the telecommunications and networking space owing to its ability to control a network’s overlay and underlay. “Unlike other managed service providers, we have the network resources to ensure effective deployment. Additionally, we have the partnerships to address performance challenges better than any network carrier,” explains Chase. Moving ahead, the company aims to expand its clientele and incorporate enterprise networks throughout its Northeast network. On the solution side, FirstLight plans to incorporate additional functionalities and products that can bolster the security capabilities of its existing suite.