How The Salvation Army uses the Meraki full stack to deploy and manage at scale
Imagine walking into a room full of your closest colleagues, only to see them huddled around a desk and crouched over a laptop with multiple routers on the side. Now imagine this room is not your office, but actually a hotel room in a completely different city.
And those routers? Those are but a small fraction of the devices still stacked up against the wall waiting to be configured. Your role? Getting ready to join your colleagues, not for a LAN party, but a Router Party.
For Randy Haan, Director of Infrastructure – Western Region at The Salvation Army, Router Parties occurred quite often, happening as early as 2007. In a webinar on March 22nd, at 11 AM PT, Haan was joined by a Cisco Meraki Product Specialist to share more about the need for Router Parties and what they were like, as well as how Meraki helped them transition from in-person configurations to a simple, easy-to-use dashboard.
The Salvation Army, a non-profit organization with the mission to “Do The Most Good,” is dedicated to feeding, clothing, comforting, and caring for those in need throughout the world. Haan, who oversees the Western Region in the U.S., manages a widely dispersed network that extends from Montana to as far as Guam. This poses a geographical challenge for Haan, as his lean team manages over 600 locations of thrift stores, youth centers, and elderly care facilities dispersed throughout the region.
Haan hosted these parties to maintain consistency and accuracy for each of the device configurations. The team would be sent to a single location in cities like Portland, Phoenix, and San Francisco, where they would post up, un-box, and start configuring.
There was always a large number of devices being configured for hundreds of sites, which meant the team was usually up “configuring boxes until 2 AM,” as Haan described it. But that’s what needed to be done. At the end of each Router Party, Haan and his team would re-box and ship them to each location.
Then one day, someone brought in a Cisco Meraki wireless AP. “It was cute and nice, but we were a full shop with the previous vendor at the time, and we weren’t willing to change that,” explained Haan. However, after they experienced a “catastrophic failure” of their network infrastructure, Haan decided to give Meraki a try.
Since then, everything has changed. By introducing Meraki, Haan not only changed the network infrastructure of the Western Region, but he also changed the philosophy and mindset with his team about what IT management meant, and how simplicity does not have to mean less powerful technology.
Today, The Salvation Army is a full Meraki shop with MX security appliances, MR wireless APs, and MS switches. They’re also trialing Systems Manager for enterprise mobility management, as well as MV security cameras. Watch our webinar from March 22nd at 11 AM PT, to hear from Haan about the unique challenges The Salvation Army faced, and how they use Meraki to build a reliable infrastructure and positively impact the business.