When Evan Gillman apologizes for stepping away from a phone call with a hopeful prediction—“that should be the last interruption, unless disaster strikes”—he’s actually underselling the value of his work.
When Superstorm Sandy and its subsequent disaster struck New York in 2012, Gillman’s company, Transit Broker LLC, leapt into action to ensure that crippled telecommunications systems wouldn’t mean interrupted business. The company’s response to the calamity underscores both the nature of its work and the evolution of telecom.
Learning from Crisis Mode
Gillman charts the path of telecom in the aftermath of disaster.
“Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call for a lot of organizations on the East Coast. No one was adequately prepared for what happened. Post-Sandy operational efficiencies involved finding new levels of redundancy. What we saw was a significant migration to disaster-recovery data-center sites, where many people sought geographically redundant data centers in other areas of the country. Putting data centers inland saw a significant push from entities moving to the middle of the country.
People also started deploying more VoIP/SIP technologies, because one of the advantages of VoIP or SIP is the inherent disaster recovery that the technology provides. The industry started deploying unified communications. Find- and follow- me technologies enable phones to ring wherever the end user is in the world, allowing access to phone systems anywhere.”
Transit Broker exists to bring clarity to a confusing industry. “The impetus for the company is this: a business owner picks up the phone and wants to order the most basic of services, [but] it’s a nightmare because there are so many details and factors that drive pricing and configuration,” Gillman says. “It becomes very difficult to get someone on the phone who understands the business owner’s needs and how to configure service around those needs. We enable organizations to focus on their business; Transit Broker handles the telecom side.”
But configuring services is just the start. One of the most important facets of Transit Broker’s mission involves keeping those services working through power outages, disasters, or other calamities. Disasters like Superstorm Sandy may make headlines, but networks face challenges everyday, and it’s Gillman’s job to configure services to keep businesses running even when networks go down.
For example, one of Transit Broker’s longtime clients is a leading automotive parts manufacturer with plants in Detroit, Mexico, Asia, Europe, and numerous sites around the world. The manufacturer needs to keep its plants running, and Transit Broker partners with Level 3 Communications to ensure that happens. “We’ve built a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network that allows any-to-any connectivity,” says Gillman. “If there’s a natural disaster, power outage, or any disastrous scenario, all of the sites on this manufacturing network can talk to each other and survive if one of the nodes happens to have an outage.”
The high-availability solution provides site-to-site connectivity, and Transit Broker has also deployed Level 3’s Voice Complete solution, a session-initiation-protocol (SIP) platform, to enable high availability for the voice network, too. “If the headquarters in Detroit loses connectivity, the platform instantly redirects calls to make the phones ring at any of the other worldwide offices, based on the configuration of the Voice Complete product plus the configuration of the MPLS network that the Voice Complete rides,” says Gillman. “The network that we’ve built for this organization has yielded the high-availability requirements that keep the business running.”
Gillman points to this relationship with the manufacturer as just one way that his company can support crucial network operations, twenty-four seven. “We have essentially become an overlay to its internal IT department by providing project management and support for its telecommunications needs, allowing them to focus on business,” he says.
Advances in technology and telecommunications have made product offerings far more intricate, increasing the demand for engagement with businesses from firms like Transit Broker. “Technologies such as SIP were in a nascent state until recently, and as the technology becomes far more prevalent, the enterprise is looking toward organizations such as ours to assist with deployment and implementation,” says Gillman. “End users are demanding newer, richer, and more robust technologies to support their businesses. The products we’re selling today are far more complicated than they were fifteen years ago because the market is demanding more advanced technologies.”
Gillman stays on top of his industry’s evolution by helping shape it as a member of the board of the Technology Channel Association (TCA), which serves as the telecom industry’s first trade association in support of independent agents. It provides leadership to address industry challenges, delivers value-added programs like webinars, and provides a collective voice for agents. The TCA also runs a certification program, the Certified Telecommunciations Professional exam, to raise the standard for agents so that clients can trust their expertise, which is more important than ever.
As more people utilize networks for increasingly complex and sensitive information, securing those networks and the information they carry is of paramount importance. Transit Broker has clients in health care, specifically in electronic health records, and Gillman has seen increased demand for SAS-70 and SSAE-16 compliant data centers, preventive security products like Level 3’s cloud- and premise-based firewall service, and DDoS mitigation services to protect from intrusions and hacking. A security breach to an enterprise organization—regardless of the size—could be costly and problematic. But working with partners such as Level 3 Communications has enabled Transit Broker to offer a robust security product set.