Real estate development and management organization based in D.C Metro area
Deployed security appliances, APs, and switches across 70+ sites and locations
Established standardized network supporting 700+ users managed by a lean IT team
Founded in 1960, The JBG Companies (JBG) is a fully integrated investment, management, and development organization located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. JBG is a mixed-use specialist that invests almost exclusively in urban-infill, transit-oriented developments in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area. With a 30.2 million square foot portfolio spread across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, JBG is a large and growing player in the D.C. real estate market.
Over the past several years, JBG’s portfolio nearly doubled in size and continued to grow, adding properties and employees at an ever-increasing pace. By 2016, over 700 employees at 72 sites were online, yet they were still relying on legacy network infrastructure that had remained relatively unchanged for nearly a decade. A key limitation was the risk posed by wireless networks at remote sites; because there was no way to remotely monitor internet usage or potential security threats most sites lacked even basic Wi-Fi.
For SVP and Director of IT Michael Rogers and his nimble team of eight, maintaining the network was frequently challenged by a combination of resource and time constraints. Deployments were inconsistent across devices and platforms, which meant each site was very difficult to manage. Any network or device changes, regardless of whether they were simple or complex, had to be done manually. Configurations were made over SSH or HTTP connections, which couldn’t always be configured remotely. This was a challenge for Roger’s team since they oversee everything from network infrastructure and security to software and desktop applications, to help desk support across all 70 locations.
JBG was going to continue to scale, and Rogers knew the network would need to scale along with it. He started considering solutions that could be deployed in varying environments and were also easy for his lean team to manage remotely. He sought a solution that was more scalable, reliable, and secure than their existing environment. According to Rogers, “Cisco Meraki’s single-pane-of-glass management and complete hardware solution made this an easy choice for us.” Each Meraki device is managed through a cloud-based dashboard, increasing visibility and control over the network as a whole.
“Meraki had the potential to cut down setup and deployment time, as well as provide an easier, more unified management experience. Now, we have a standard network deployment at all of our sites and can manage everything from a single console,” explained Rogers. “None of the other solutions we considered offered such a complete and easy-to-use solution, which is critical for such a lean staff.”
Rogers and his team liked the cloud-based approach because it simplified their deployment experience. Utilizing the templating and cloning features for Meraki devices, which applies an appliance configuration, or template, to a series of devices, the IT team was able to pre-configure all the devices before they were even out of the box. The devices were then shipped to each of the sites for local staff members to simply plug in and set up on their own. This allowed JBG to deploy Meraki MX Security Appliances and APs across 55 sites within just six weeks; the entire process was painless and quick.
Today, all JBG properties have VPNs back to the main office and wireless networks for non-VPN traffic. Access policies are applied to both corporate and guest SSIDs, alleviating previous concerns around wireless security. Content-filtering and traffic-shaping rules are applied to these access policies, as are malware protections that the IT team can monitor remotely.
In addition to security appliances and APs, JBG has Meraki switches deployed at a number of sites that make use of the extra port density. Alerts in the dashboard enable the team to be more proactive when configuring the network. Compared to the previous switches installed, the Meraki MS switches provide greater visibility into the network, especially for device management. With Meraki, the IT team can trace devices all the way to the specific ports they’re connected to. Similarly, the team is able to make changes more quickly, updating VLANs and power cycling ports with just the click of a button.
As all the devices are managed through a single console, JBG now has a “standardized network that is updated and maintained with minimal oversight, giving the IT team more time to focus on other projects in the queue,” as Rogers describes it. And it’s “great to provide employees with extra networking functionalities that weren’t previously there.” This is particularly important for Rogers’ team, which is responsible for making sure the organization runs smoothly and efficiently.
When thinking about future plans for JBG, Rogers is excited by the new Meraki MC phones and MV security cameras because they offer additional visibility into the full networking stack. Meraki “is a one-stop-shop that allows us to deploy standardized, inexpensive technology to remote sites,” which enables the team to support more sites faster with fewer resources.
Meraki helps JBG continue to scale their business and services without requiring additional IT staffing resources or an overextended budget. Rodgers loves how easy it has all been. “With Meraki,” he said, “we can do so much more.”