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.
Grab, a leading technology company that provides transportation and ride-hailing solutions across Southeast Asia, offers a wide portfolio of transportation solutions ranging from a network of taxis (GrabTaxi) to private cars (GrabCar) to a two-wheeled option to beat the traffic (GrabBike).
This growing organization is dedicated to solving real-world transportation problems, and to that end, Grab is consistently expanding to new cities across the region. In our upcoming webinar on October 5, 11:00 AM (Singapore time), Kevin Lam, Grab’s Regional IT Networks Manager, will share his experience setting up networks at new offices in new countries, which is key to the company’s growth. Each branch office is crucial to supporting the local operations of the drivers. Lam chose Meraki because it could be deployed quickly and easily at branch offices.
During the webinar, Lam will share why Grab chose Meraki for their regional expansions. With advantages such as rapid deployments, simple management, and an easy-to-use dashboard interface, Lam can now deploy the network at new sites and offices in minutes.
Topics that will be covered in this webinar:
How Lam and his lean IT team manage everything from wireless, desktop support, server maintenance, data security, and network management
How the Grab team deploys a Meraki network (wireless, switching, security) at a new office in less than 24 hours
How Meraki makes it easy for Lam to manage a network distributed across seven countries from Grab’s headquarters in Singapore
Some unique use cases, challenges, and needs that a growing startup faces, and how a solid network infrastructure is essential for their success
Register for our webinar today to hear from Lam himself on October 5 at 11:00 AM (Singapore time). Eligible attendees will receive a free Meraki access point for attending this webinar*
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.