Eileen Fisher’s strong commitments to female empowerment and sustainability set the high-end women’s apparel brand apart from others in the fashion space. Yet despite the uniqueness of its brand image, Eileen Fisher for a long time had to contend with many of the same issues that plague retailers everywhere: high network deployment costs, costly on-site management, and little to no visibility into disparate stores’ networks.
Nelson Diaz, Eileen Fisher’s Senior Manager of IT Infrastructure, had had enough. He sought to simplify network management in order to save time, money, and his team’s sanity. No longer did Diaz want to deal with unreliable off-the-shelf wireless or time-consuming troubleshooting tasks — he just wanted a network that worked.
“When it came to managing the previous infrastructure or pushing out firmware updates, we pretty much just crossed our fingers.” – Nelson Diaz, Sr. Manager IT Infrastructure
After evaluating a number of vendors that all promised to make things easier, Travis Laird, the lead architect for Eileen Fisher, suggested Diaz take a look at Meraki. Thanks to the simplicity of the Meraki dashboard, Eileen Fisher has increased visibility and control over their distributed retail stores in a way they had never had before.
Having implemented the new network in just a few months at all 70 store locations, Eileen Fisher was able to reduce its deployment costs by 40% and estimates that it will have saved 50% in WAN costs by the end of Q1 2019 with a full Meraki stack.
Watch the webinar recording to learn firsthand how Eileen Fisher was able to achieve these results with just a three person infrastructure team. Diaz and Laird discuss:
The network devices they’ve decided to deploy at every store
Their infrastructure plans to support growth, including an AWS migration
Their experience piloting and evaluating SD-WAN through the Meraki MX
How Eileen Fisher plans to leverage wireless solutions for marketing use cases
1:00 pm: Students trickle back into class after a well-deserved lunch break. Eager to get started with their next lesson, they grab their school-issued laptop out of their emptying backpack, log on, and start their next assignment while patiently waiting for the teacher to bring attention to the front of the room. Unbeknownst to the students and teachers actively participating in classroom activities, the network deployment team paces the halls, double checking that each new access point has a home, and that each switch will be comfortable in its new closet.
3:30 pm: The bell rings. Students rejoice; jumping, dancing, and skipping out of the building, excited to get to their study group, sports practice, or friend’s house. Some stay behind to attend an after-school course, work on homework, or attend a teacher’s office hours. Behind the scenes, the deployment team sneaks inside empty classrooms and offices, unmounting old access points and seamlessly swapping them for brand new, inconspicuous access points to take their place. From the gym to the cafeteria, no space can be left unconnected. With great attention to detail and swift hanging capabilities, the team goes room by room, replacing and adding APs, making sure no classroom is left behind.
4:30 pm: The last of the students head home for the day, with tired eyes, full brains, and superb stories. Once everyone has left the campus, and the school buildings start humming in their normal emptied silence, the real fun begins. Operation: the complete switchover. The deployment team speeds through the remaining AP installation. They move onto the closets, and in a sea of cables, sweat, and servers, they unrack and uninstall the legacy switches, tossing them into a corner of their already forgotten memory. Installing the new switches is faster than a cheetah lapping the school, with an organized, lit up rack of switches foreseeable on the other end.
5:00 pm: Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3, testing. The devices are online. The computers are connecting. The tablets are connecting. Even the phones are connecting! The intrusion detection system is working. The security cameras are on. We are a go! Network complete.
This nonfiction tale tells the story of Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), the 9th largest school district in the United States, with around 208,000 students spread across 200 schools. And yes, they continue to flip schools left and right in four hours, moving them off of their legacy equipment and onto a Meraki network of MR access points and MS switches. Originally a project that David Overton, Senior Director of Information Security, thought would take several years to finish, is on pace to finish in under two years, with the deployment team transitioning three schools a week. And, for the schools that have already moved onto Meraki, not only has student learning through their 1:1 device program continued to work without a hitch, but the simplified management through the Meraki dashboard has been a lifesaver for the IT team.
To learn more about OCPS and their Meraki deployment, watch a webinar recording with David and a Meraki product specialist. They discussed why David chose Meraki, how they are able to install a new network in 4 hours, and why a robust network is imperative to supporting their 1:1 device program. Watch here!
The E-rate FCC Form 471 application filing window has been announced! Schools in the United States have from January 11 until March 22, 2018, to submit their FCC Form 471 applications. Here’s what you need to know:
E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) profiles will lock January 10: To prepare for the FCC Form 471 application filing on January 11, all EPC profiles will be locked January 10. Log into your EPC account now to make sure all information is updated and accurate.
File FCC Form 470: Before you can file the FCC Form 471, you need to file the FCC Form 470. You do not need to wait until January 11 to do so. Remember, filing your FCC Form 470 starts the competitive bidding process, and since the form must be posted for a minimum of 28 days, you need to submit your FCC Form 470 by February 22nd at the latest. Plan accordingly!
File FCC Form 471: To request the discount on eligible products and services, you need to file the FCC Form 471. Once your FCC Form 470 has been posted for 28 days, you will select a vendor, calculate the costs of products and service, and outline the project timeline. Use this information to file FCC Form 471.
Why Bother Filing for E-rate?
Although the E-rate filing process may seem intimidating, it’s worth the effort! Wayne Highlands School District used Category Two funding to jump-start their vision of becoming a “smart” school district. By using their funding with Cisco Meraki, Wayne Highlands was able to:
Achieve high-density bandwidth to optimize learning by deploying 320 wireless access points
Launch a one-to-one digital learning environment and focus more time on implementing new learning applications and curriculum, and less time on network issues
Incorporate new, vigorous education technology curriculum into K–12 lessons, including online videos, digital worksheets, and remote access to instructional content
Get Started on the E-rate Process
But don’t take it from us: hear Scott D. Miller, Director of Technology and Information Systems at Wayne Highland School District, explain it himself. Scott spoke with us about his experience applying for and using E-rate to improve his network infrastructure with Cisco Meraki. He was be joined by John Harrington, CEO at Funds for Learning, who discussed the upcoming E-rate deadlines in more detail. You can watch the webinar recording here.
For more than 20 years, Samuel Robinson has been managing the network for Goodwill Industries of South Florida. He and one other technician oversee voice, networking, and communication for a network that spans 46 stores, over 500 network devices and over 3,200 guests and employees on the network.
Goodwill Industries of South Florida Dashboard
During the majority of his time at Goodwill, they didn’t have any wireless solutions. “I just haven’t trusted wireless systems enough to set them up,” explained Robinson. That is, until Cisco Meraki came into the picture. Soutec, their partner, brought Meraki solutions and provided a full demo of the Meraki product suite, including the centralized dashboard.
From left to right: Zuo Wang, Engineer at Soutec, Pedro Colmenares, Account Executive at Soutec, Julian Pinzon, Managing Director at Soutec, Sam Robinson, IT Manager at Goodwill of South Florida.
Robinson was about to begin a major project to upgrade the network infrastructure at all 46 stores. The ease-of-use and quick deployment helped Robinson make an easy decision to go with Meraki.
Robinson started with MR access points to improve overall monitoring and management of in-store bandwidth usage. Goodwill has set up bandwidth limitations at download restraints to protect their network from employee misuse. By using MR traffic shaping rules, they are still able to provide internet access to guests that visit the stores. With those policies in place, Robinson can start to leverage other MR features like Location Analytics, which leverages built-in Bluetooth capabilities, to better understand guest and visitor behavior. This data can inform business decisions and help improve in-store processes.
After getting his feet wet with the APs, Soutec introduced Goodwill to the MX firewalls and MS switches. Now, almost every store is equipped with a full stack of Meraki gear.
Pictured on the left: Goodwill store equipment. Pictured on the right: Goodwill HQ equipment.
Having in-store internet is very important to Goodwill. The MX security appliances provide redundancy for their internet connection with the 4G cellular failover feature built into each device. This allows traffic to automatically redirect through a 3G/4G USB modem should the connectivity ever go down. With this, Goodwill is able to guarantee an internet source that keeps stores running.
Today, Goodwill Industries of South Florida has fully embraced Meraki MR, MS, and MX cloud-managed networking solutions at all stores and corporate offices. So what’s in store for the next deployment? Robinson is exploring the enterprise mobility management solution, Systems Manager, for in-store tablets and devices. Meraki solutions enable any retail organization to maintain a PCI compliant network and as a retail organization, that is essential for mobility and wireless management. With Systems Manager, Robinson can continue to be proactive and enforce security policies, application management, and more, to accelerate technology and innovation across Goodwill stores. And when questions arise, he reaches out to Soutec, who “seem as though they’re with Meraki. They’re like an extension of Meraki and help with any issues that come up.”
Read the full Goodwill of South Florida case study here.
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.
IT team member configuring devices in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.
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.
Stacked devices to be configured in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.
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.
List of devices to configure during a Router Party in 2013.
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.
TELUS World of Science – Edmonton is a non-profit organization in Edmonton, Canada, focused on bringing science education to their community. The center houses one of the largest IMAX theaters in all of Canada, as well as a planetarium theater (pictured above) for lectures, events, and science presentations.
The growing organization is dedicated to its mission of fostering wonder and excitement for children and adults around science and technology in ways that advance and strengthen the community. Yet, as a non-profit, funding and costs are spread quite thin across the entire organization. When it comes to IT infrastructure, Robert Litchfield, Director of IT, leads a lean team of 2, including himself.
On March 1, 2017 at 11AM PT, Litchfield joined us in a live webinar to share some of the greatest challenges managing and monitoring the TELUS network, and how Cisco Meraki has helped advance their organizational mission, cut costs, and create opportunities for additional revenue.
How his lean team manages everything from Wi-Fi, desktop support, server maintenance, data security, and application and network management
How the center has supported a network of hundreds of guests and devices each day, before and after Meraki
What the rip and replacement looked like, as well as the deployment of Meraki switches
Some of the unique use cases, challenges, and needs a science center faces, and how a solid network infrastructure plays a part in its success
Register today for the chance to hear directly from Litchfield on how TELUS World of Science overcame their networking challenges with Meraki to continue educating and inspiring their community.
When Stephen Stanton, VP of IT at A Wireless, was told about upcoming plans to acquire 370 stores across the United States, he didn’t think it would be possible. Stanton knew the company would not be able to scale at that rate with their legacy networking solution. But that was four years ago. Today, A Wireless, a full-service Authorized Verizon Retailer, has about 1,170 stores across 46 states—an almost tenfold increase in store locations.
On Thursday, February 9th at 10 AM PT, Stanton will join us in a live conversation to share how A Wireless evaluated and decided on Cisco Meraki as their solution of choice for national expansion.
As A Wireless acquired new stores, they also acquired a mix of IT networking solutions and vendor products. They found themselves with a network built on varying technologies, configurations, and management systems. Implementing a standardized network and centralized management was essential for their continued success.
Over a 3-year period, A Wireless have saved in excess of 80% in the total cost of ownership of the network, compared to a more traditional networking solution.
A Wireless TCO Cost Savings
Over 670 stores already fitted with a full suite of Meraki solutions, including MX Security Appliances, MR Access Points, MS Switches, and even a few MC Phones. Now, Stanton and his team are ready to deploy the next 500 locations with the same products and by the final deployment, all 1,170 stores will be full Meraki shops without any other network vendor solutions.
View a recording of this webinar, A Wireless, A Verizon Premium Retailer: Scaling Nationally with Meraki, here: [Link]
Liberty Behavioral Management operates both inpatient and outpatient facilities across New York state, providing rehabilitation and behavioral health services to adults and adolescents. In a special Meraki webinar on December 7th at 11AM PT, Chris Smith, CTO, shared his experience managing an entire network across 13 different sites with a lean IT team of two.
Over time, Liberty Behavioral Management’s network infrastructure became insufficient for their basic business needs. Smith would receive complaints that the Internet was too slow for web surfing or file sharing, or that there wasn’t enough bandwidth for hosted medical information systems. It was time to either increase their MPLS network speed or find an alternative solution. And when Smith was notified that increasing their MPLS usage would drive up costs, he knew he had to find a different option.
Smith looked for ease-of-use, data security features, and ways to improve site-to-site connectivity without increasing internet costs. Meraki fit the bill.
With Meraki MX Security Appliances, SD-WAN (that’s “software-defined WAN” for those who haven’t come across this acronym) enhanced existing internet connectivity at each of the branches by dynamically sending traffic between locations based on set policies, defined types of traffic, and optimal performance. By leveraging MPLS at the main hospitals and the MX SD-WAN capabilities for the branch sites, Liberty Behavioral management saved $1,127,170, or 76% of costs, over five years.
Stay tuned for a complete TCO Analysis and case study to learn how Liberty Behavioral Management deployed and saved with Meraki cloud-based solutions.
On November 16, 2016, at 11am PT, we hosted a live customer webinar with Fidell Wadsworth, Lead Network Engineer at CNOS, a healthcare organization operating in South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Wadsworth shared his Cisco Meraki experience, from deploying and wiring the hardware to troubleshooting with the dashboard. As a full stack Meraki customer, Wadsworth has a unique perspective on how all the Meraki products integrate to form a single, centrally managed network.
The CNOS network spans 17 physical and satellite locations, supporting over 300 patients and guests each day, and over 36 healthcare providers and 200+ associates and physicians. Prior to Meraki, employees endured limited performance and consistent server issues. They were reliant on an old infrastructure that was pieced together with different IT solutions, making it difficult to troubleshoot and configure. Wadsworth and his lean team of 3 knew it was time for something more manageable, reliable, and secure.
“[When deciding which solution to go with] we proposed to the board that ‘if we want to solve problems quickly, if we want to get things fixed fast, we need to go with Meraki.’” – Fidell Wadsworth, Lead Network Engineer
In this webinar, you’ll hear directly from Wadsworth about:
Why CNOS chose Meraki over other networking solutions
How they deployed the entire network in 36 hours using Meraki cloud managed solutions
What it’s like to have the Meraki full stack, and how it impacts the business
How the team troubleshoots and configures the network with the Meraki dashboard
And much more!
Missed the CNOS webinar? No problem, find a link to the webinar recording here!
With over 10,000 mobile devices throughout the district, Chris Nilsson, Director of Technology Integration at Lamar CISD, joined us to share how he is using Cisco Meraki’s Systems Manager to keep tabs on them.
In addition to general district-purchased devices, thousands of other devices have been gradually introduced into the network. After completing a course on technology in the learning space, many teachers are given funds to purchase whatever devices they believe will have the greatest impact on their students. Before implementing Systems Manager, there was little available in the way of tracking how students were using the devices.
From asset management to location information to enforcing restrictions and more, Chris has customized this free tool for the unique needs of his district.
Watch the webinar to see how Chris can now monitor this technology and manage the devices from one online Dashboard.