Swedish management organisation with 92,000+ members
Layer 7 application prioritisation for mission critical voice SIP traffic
Intuitive dashboard and visibility provide granular network control
Ledarna is an organisation for managers in the Swedish labor market, providing guidance and support for over 92,000 members in all types of trades and professions. Reliable communication between offices and with other companies is critical for Ledarna’s daily business operations; however, their previous network solution was unable to support this need and was also lacking in visibility and control.
With a small IT team and six dispersed locations, IT technician Alex Tsarapatsanis needed a solution that was easy to manage and provided the granular configurations needed for each site. He discovered Cisco Meraki initially by testing Enterprise Mobility Management solution Systems Manager, and quickly realised that Meraki could also help with other challenges in Ledarna’s networking infrastructure.
Alex’s team participated in a webinar to learn more about cloud-managed networking. After attending, they received a free MR access point as part of the program, and started testing it in their office environment.
I noticed immediately that this was what I’d been looking for.
Before, Alex and his team didn’t have a management tool to look after their network- it would have been a purchased add-on, and even then, it would likely be difficult and time consuming to use. If there was a network issue, the team would sometimes troubleshoot for days, or even weeks, to pinpoint the problem. More often than not, they would have to bring in an expert consultant to help solve it.
“We heavily rely on our phone system and the quality of calls. Before there was always something wrong with both the phone system and the network. Everyone would point at each other saying it was someone else’s fault,” said Alex.
To solve this, Ledarna first switched to a more standardized communication solution: Skype for Business. However, for their internet and telephone service provider to guarantee the best quality, Alex and his team needed to implement a brand-new reliable network.
In just one day, Ledarna deployed more than 40 MR access points, across multiple sites, and an MX80 security appliance for core security at headquarters. Since then, two extra offices have been opened, which led to an expansion of the network as well. The team added two extra MX security appliances, and multiple new access points and 8-port to 48-port MS switches.
The Ledarna group consists of multiple smaller companies, some with only 10 to 20 employees. It’s no surprise that these companies often don’t have an IT team on-site. To help with this, Meraki devices can be preconfigured in dashboard and shipped on-site, where non-technical staff members can simply plug them in, and they work flawlessly.
The Meraki dashboard allows admins to set up SSIDs in just a few clicks. Ledarna’s production SSIDs are configured with 802.1x authentication and routed to core switches. Two guest SSIDs are routed to the MX80 security appliance and segmented from the LAN with layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping.
SIP traffic for voice and video applications is prioritized using Layer 7 traffic shaping with DSCP tags. Besides that, the organisation also prioritizes traffic used by Office 365 and Salesforce, their CRM platform. Some restrictions have been set up as well, such as traffic related to BitTorrent and P2P traffic. Reduced bandwidth has been put in place in case someone bypass these restrictions.
“From a security perspective, we use our MX64 with auto-VPN, which is a great feature. You get a very easy and standardized way to manage traffic,” said Alex. “Everything just flows back to the big MX here in the Stockholm office and setting all this up didn’t take longer than one hour.”
Ledarna also implemented a Meraki MV security camera in the reception area of their head office, which is seamlessly managed in the same dashboard. The security manager monitors the camera and can access it when he needs to with a separate login. Ledarna had two incidents where unauthorized people tried to access the first floor where the conference rooms are located. Having a camera helped them stop these break-ins – and often they don’t have to go to the authorities when security breaches can be solved internally with help from Meraki’s motion search feature.
“The simplicity and visibility of the Meraki dashboard have dramatically impacted the time we spend managing and troubleshooting the network,” Alex said. “Of course, this has also impacted our spend, because we now have a fixed budget for networking equipment and management every year. We know exactly how much the Meraki devices and licenses cost us, with support, warranty and firmware upgrades included.”
In the past, Alex and his team didn’t have an overview of the different warranty options of their networking devices. It would also cost them a lot to have a consultant come in to solve network issues, eventually leading to replacing the hardware. Now they can contact the Meraki support team if there is ever a problem, or even if they just have a question. As an IT generalist, managing the network is only one of Alex’s responsibilities, so it helps to have a great support team available if he needs information. “If I would have to summarize our experience with Meraki I would say: No hassle and peace of mind,” Alex said.
You can pinpoint troubling areas very, very fast. It’s so effortless to set up and start using it, that’s the best thing about Meraki.