Mobile Branch Office – Mobile Network
Office Move Project Plan – Excel Spreadsheet Checklist
Problem: You have a branch office moving within ninety days, but your service provider cannot deliver the circuit in time.
If you have ever been involved with a branch office move, then you understand the risks involved in ensuring connectivity day one. I have been involved with numerous relocations and have found one common issue that is completely out of my control, getting the service providers circuit installed and ready for use while minimizing downtime.
Many factors that can lead to delays in delivery of the service provider’s circuit are a) obtaining permits and right of way for new installs, b) construction delays due to weather, c) backend office delays in getting contracts through legal for signature. Any of these can put you outside of the relocation date.
Throughout my journey, I have worked diligently to mitigate the dependence of the service provider’s circuit and put control back in my hands. One of the best methods I have used to achieve this is by developing a mobile branch office.
A mobile branch office gives me the ability to deliver temporary service as soon as the new office occupancy is obtained, while leaving the existing service provider circuit connected at the location to be vacated.
Moving the existing circuit saves money by not having to install a new circuit. This solution also increases employee productivity and removes risks involved with delays in circuit delivery.
The mobile branch office can be as complex or simple as needed. I always included these requirements: providing layer 2 security, Internet accountability, VoIP and Wireless. Even with all of these requirements, it is possible to design a stable, secure and easy to deploy solution. With the help of 4G LTE cellular I was able to achieve all requirements.
Using a good 4G LTE router provides enough bandwidth to sustain business within a branch office. It is also robust enough to handle the overhead of a VPN while maintaining voice quality across the network. A 4G LTE router coupled with a good VPN/Firewall allows for a secure connection back to headquarters.
Having the VPN allows for the extension of services from headquarter, such as layer 2 security, wireless and voice over IP. The firewall will allow for local Internet filtering without backhauling the authorization and accounting of user access. Connecting a router and switch behind the firewall allows for complete LAN/WAN control, allowing access back to headquarters for application and file access. To ease deployment, a PDU and TSA approved rack case can be used.
Install the PDU along with the 4G router, VPN/firewall, router and switch in the TSA approved rolling rack case. Cable all network devices and connect the power cables to the PDU. You now have a solution that can be shipped anywhere and deployed within minutes.
The setup will require opening the rack case, plugging in the PDU into building power and powering up the network hardware. The network drops in the branch office can then be patched into the switch. The order of operation will be the 4G LTE router will connect to the cellular service. Then the VPN will connect back to headquarters.
Once the VPN is up, any services dependent on WAN connectivity will be accessible. This could include connectivity to RADIUS server for layer 2 security, wireless connectivity back to a wireless LAN controller, voice over IP connectivity or simply application and file access.
This solution has served me well throughout the years in providing service without the dependency of the service provider circuit install. Hopefully, you will get use out a mobile branch solution as well.