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Voice gets priority delivery on GST's VPN, which replaced the outsourced frame relay WAN service used for data and the PSTN for voice. The Cisco Systems V3PN (voice and video enabled VPN) network separates voice and data logically so the voice network doesn't talk to the data network and vice versa. This configuration protects the voice network from computer viruses and other threats. GST is swapping out its nearly 30 PBXs for Cisco's CallManager VoIP software.
The draw for GST was the ability to manage its growing network centrally. "Anyone can open up new locations, but if you're not careful, the cost of managing your network can double and triple [as it grows]," Meewes says. That's why the internal VPN with integrated voice and data was the way to go. "I save money by having my own staff remotely manage it, and we reduce any interruptions to business," he says.
GST also is shifting gears from its roots--mostly in truck to rail to truck, also called intermodal, delivery--to an even split between intermodal and truck-only delivery, Meewes says. The company hopes to hit $700 million in revenue in 2005 through regional expansion and by moving more of its business onto the highways, now the hot spot for freight transportation. It currently has 33 sites around the country and handles shipments and deliveries for Hitachi, Procter & Gamble, Toyota and other big companies.
Making It Mesh
With the new VPN, GST brought its network in-house. The goal was a hub-and-spoke data architecture for management and security reasons, and then a fully meshed voice architecture. But earlier this year, when the IT group began configuring the routers and voice equipment with Cisco's GRE/IPsec VPN tunnels for the peer-to-peer meshed architecture, the company found out the hard way that voice just wouldn't mesh. "Manually building a meshed network with GRE/IPsec tunnels was not a scalable [strategy]," says Jason Smith, lead engineer for GST. "We were going to have to configure an enormous number of tunnels."
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