Kaleb Mercer is Director of IT at Rödl & Partner USA, an integrated professional services firm of Rödl & Partner, with offices spread throughout the United States and servicing clients across the globe. Mercer and his team oversee a global network that needs to support both accountants that travel internationally and an increase in remote work during the pandemic.
Cloud strategy is an important focus area for Mercer and his team as they shift to a Microsoft Azure-centric architecture. We recently sat down with Mercer to discuss why Rödl & Partner USA is deploying Barracuda CloudGen WAN and how Barracuda is helping them succeed.
Q&A with Kaleb Mercer, Director of IT at Rödl & Partner USA
How do you view the role of IT at your company?
As the director of IT for the U.S. division, I'm tasked with leveraging technology to improve our business and services and make it more efficient. With most companies, IT is always handled separately. Our CEO sees it completely differently. There is no line between business and IT. It is an integrated part of the business. This puts our IT team in a unique position where we can come alongside our accountants and management and say, OK, here are some things we're seeing, and here are some options we can look at.
How long have you been a Barracuda customer? And how did you get started with us?
We've been with Barracuda for about seven or eight years. When I came on board with Rödl & Partner, we had some very old firewalls that had very limited capabilities. So, one of my first tasks was to shore up our external network, and that's where I brought Barracuda in. Based on my experience with Barracuda at a previous company, I knew that with Barracuda firewalls there is better visibility into what you're doing. So, we brought in Barracuda NextGen firewalls, and we've had them in place ever since. Then we subsequently extended upon that, adding Message Archivers and then Barracuda Backup. Now, we're investing in Barracuda CloudGen WAN.
What drove the decision to add CloudGen WAN? What challenge were you looking to solve?
Over the last six or eight months, we've been restructuring our cloud strategy. Today, we have an on-premise environment with a light footprint in Azure, not counting Office 365. With the pandemic, we started asking what can we do strategically to get us to a more Azure-centric architecture. We looked at solutions out there and tested several out, but none accomplished everything we wanted. Talking with our sales reps, we heard what Barracuda had going on with CloudGen WAN, and it turned out to be the key that we needed to finalize our strategy. Short term, we needed to better facilitate our hybrid architecture, but over the next few years, we are going full Azure, with nothing on-prem. Until CloudGen WAN, we could not find the right networking solution that met all of our needs.'Until CloudGen WAN, we could not find the right networking solution that met all of our needs.' #CloudSecurity #PublicCloud #CUDAonAzureClick To Tweet
We also transitioned our entire phone system to Microsoft Teams. We love it, but there have been quality issues from time to time. Throwing more bandwidth at it sometimes fixes the issue, but not always. CloudGen WAN addresses a root cause because it gives you a direct connection to your tenant and Azure, which means very limited latency. So, it solves a number of our issues.
Regardless of what public cloud you’re using, your infrastructure is really the Achilles heel. If your routing is garbage, your experience is going to be garbage. With all the different carriers out there, you could be jumping all over before you get to where you need to be. CloudGen WAN's optimization and direct routing concepts, we're leaping into Azure first and then from there going out. That takes away a significant amount of overhead, and to a degree, it takes away a whole lot of cost that's associated with managing, for us, a global network, because we have accountants that travel all over the world.
How has working with Barracuda made life easier for you and your team?
Just a few weeks ago, there was a massive fiber cut, about 1,500 strands of fiber were severed in Atlanta, and it caused quite a bit of mayhem. For us, it affected our CenturyLink service completely at our data center location, which was definitely not desirable. All of our voice services are contained within that data center as well, which just so happened to be serviced by CenturyLink's SIP. This resulted in all voice services being down for the firm. We do have redundancy, so from an internet access standpoint, the firewall just failed over and no one knew any different. Voice was a problem, though, because the CenturyLink circuits were such a mess that their failover for SIP trunks was not working correctly. Because the links were constantly coming up and down, it was causing my team a nightmare. We spent a better part of a day trying to figure out what was going on and how to restore voice services. After internal discussions, and looking at the firewall controller, we found that traffic was coming in one circuit, but going out another due to the ports flapping. After finding this, we were able to engineer the fix from our side while CenturyLink continued to work on their side. The fix was: Let the firewall dictate where it goes. So, we created some firewall rules and manipulated the packets so they route it the proper way down the failover circuit. Had it not been for Barracuda, I'm not quite sure what we'd have done.'Honestly, with @Barracuda support, the first person that you get on the phone, it's usually the last person you talk to because they know everything that they need to know to solve your problem.' #ITsupportClick To Tweet
What has your experience been like with Barracuda support?
Honestly, the first person that you get on the phone, it's usually the last person you talk to because they know everything that they need to know to solve your problem. The support team has made our lives significantly easier because when you get them on the phone, they know what the problem is. They know how to find it, and in most cases, resolve it. If I can sing any praises to Barracuda, it's their support. Your support is second to none. In all of the vendors that we have in our architecture, there's no one better. What can I say? We love working with the team at Barracuda.
Anne Campbell is the public relations manager for Barracuda. She's been with the organization since 2014, working on content and public relations for Barracuda MSP, the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda. She started her career in newspaper and magazine journalism, and she brings that editorial point of view the work she does, using it to help craft compelling stories.