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Line2 Boosts Availability and Cuts Costs with F5 Silverline DDoS Protection

Cloud phone service Line2 needed to ensure consistent uptime for its small business customers. After a negative experience with another DDoS mitigation provider, Line2 turned to F5’s managed cloud-scrubbing service, which boosted availability of the company’s services, while providing granular visibility, expert support, and significant cost savings.

Business Challenges

San Francisco–based Line2 offers a small business phone solution that adds a second line to phones, tablets, and computers, while providing customers with a complete cloud phone service, including an auto attendant, conferencing, group and picture messaging, and online faxing. “We’re really trying to help small businesses do what they need to do with their telephony, without having to buy an expensive subscription,” says Director of Operations Jennifer Cohen.

When Cohen started with Line2 in 2016, she began the process of upgrading the company’s firewalls and load balancers. After speaking with the F5 sales team, the company decided to replace its older devices with new F5 BIG-IP ADCs, which offer network firewall services with F5 BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM) as well as secure access through BIG-IP Access Policy Manager (APM). “I come from the old school of risk management,” says Cohen, where the firewall had to be different from the load balancer, which had to be different from the WAF, so it took a lot for me to go all-in with F5—but since we have, I’ve been really pleased with the products as well as the support.”

With their on-premises data center needs addressed, Cohen and her team turned their attention to another area of need: DDoS protection. After experiencing a heavy DDoS attack, Line2 signed up for a managed DDoS mitigation service. However, things didn’t go as planned. “We had so many problems with our previous DDoS solution,” says Cohen. “There was no cooperation between the provider’s network and security teams, so when something went wrong—which happened frequently—we always had to open a new ticket and go through the whole process all over again.”

James Cutts, Senior Systems Administrator for Line2, agrees. “Every time I talked with someone, I could tell that they didn’t understand the big picture.” These communication problems were certainly frustrating; however, there was an even bigger issue. Configuration problems and lack of support seriously hampered the efficacy of the service. “More than 50 percent of our downtime last year was actually caused by our former DDoS mitigation provider,” says Cutts.

Line2 clearly needed a better solution.

The bottom line is that for less money we’re getting a far superior product and an incredible team. Jennifer Cohen, Director of Operations, Line2

Solution

The organization had signed a contract with its DDoS mitigation provider, but as soon as the contract ended, it was time to move on. “We got out as fast as we possibly could, because the experience was so bad,” says Cohen.

The Line2 team set up a meeting with the F5 sales team to discuss the F5 Silverline DDoS Protection service delivered via F5 Silverline, a cloud-based application services platform. “Everyone I talked to at Silverline seemed to be familiar with our situation,” says Cutts. “And they understood the role of DDoS protection for our business. It’s not that they claimed they could solve all our problems, but there’s this vision that allows the team to pinpoint areas in which we might have trouble and then suggest possible solutions.”

The Line2 team felt confident that F5 Silverline DDoS Protection would keep their core business services available for their personal and small business customers, no matter the size or type of attack. Another feature that attracted them was the 24x7 availability of the F5 Security Operations Center (SOC) and the DDoS security experts who deploy and manage the service.

“We are so happy to have a direct line to the SOC,” says Cutts. “I can pick up the phone, dial a number, and a familiar voice will answer. It is all so different from our experience with our previous vendor. Silverline gives us the kind of security that allows us to sleep at night.”

F5 Silverline DDoS Protection gives us the kind of security that allows us to sleep at night. Jennifer Cohen, Director of Operations, Line2

Benefits

By harnessing the capabilities of cloud-based Silverline DDoS Protection, Line2 boosted the availability and uptime of its critical services, improved visibility into DDoS attacks, gained support from a team of experts, and realized substantial cost savings.

Improved availability

As a business phone solution, Line2 focuses on ensuring that its services remain up and available to its customers. Silverline DDoS Protection helps Line2 detect and mitigate DDoS attacks in real time with guaranteed, unshared bandwidth that can stop even the largest of attacks from bringing down the company’s network. “For our small business customers,” says Cohen, “us being down could have a serious hit on their business, so we’re relying on Silverline to ensure consistent uptime.”

Best of all, DDoS attack mitigation remains invisible to Line2 users, ensuring their experience is uninterrupted by always allowing legitimate traffic through to the service, while eliminating false positive alerts. “For us, it’s all about availability and uptime,” says Cohen. “We have the infrastructure, we have the bandwidth, and now we have the right DDoS solution."

Granular visibility

Silverline DDoS Protection also gives Line2 something its previous provider didn’t: unparalleled visibility and reporting—before, during, and after a DDoS attack. “Silverline allows us to see things about our traffic that we couldn’t see before,” says Cohen, “which makes a huge difference in our business today and as we grow and take on more customers.

Cohen and her team especially appreciate having access to the F5 Customer Portal, which makes it easy to manage services, configure routing, block malicious IP addresses, and gain crucial visibility into DDoS attacks. “To say the Silverline Customer Portal is light years better than the one we were using is an understatement,” says Cohen.

Dedicated support

After experiencing communication difficulties with their previous DDoS mitigation provider, Cohen and her team wanted to make sure that the support aspect of the Silverline DDoS Protection service met their needs. They were pleased that the experts at the SOC are available to the Line2 team 24x7, and can respond to DDoS attacks in minutes. “One of the things I love about F5 is that you are all so responsive,” says Cohen. “The SOC team members who we’ve dealt with have been stellar; they flat out know what they’re doing and they understand our business.”

Cutts agrees, saying “The SOC team really go above and beyond, providing a level of detail that’s impressive. For example, they noticed our ISP wasn’t following some routing rules we set up and they told us about it so that we could address it. That expertise is what we pay you for—and that’s exactly what we’re getting.”

Cost savings

One of the most frustrating things about Line2’s experience with their previous DDoS mitigation provider was that despite the problems with the service, it was quite expensive. “The service that we were paying for cost thousands of dollars a month more than Silverline,” says Cohen.

After switching to Silverline DDoS Protection, the company feels much more comfortable with its DDoS mitigation solution. “The bottom line,” says Cohen, “is that for less money we’re getting a far better product and an incredible team. I just wish we had gone with Silverline from the beginning.”