IT Management company rolls out BYOD initiative across worldwide office locations
Improved network security by segmenting groups of users into different SSIDs
Entire network configured via the dashboard before the APs were deployed
Founded in 2000 and located in Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, Linkbynet is an IT Facilities Management and Hosting company. In the past ten years, the company has established itself as the primary provider of facilities management, cloud computing and web hosting services to nearly 25% of CAC 40 companies. Linkbynet has over 410 employees globally, distributed across five locations, including Mauritius, Canada and France.
Olivier Morel, IT Security Engineer at Linkbynet, manages the IT security at their headquarters in Paris. Morel is responsible for defining and deploying the security architecture, strengthening compliance indicators and improving technology intelligence.
The network architecture that Linkbynet originally put in place at their headquarters was very fragmented. “We had a lack of coverage. The wireless access points were difficult to manage. We didn’t have any WiFi controllers because they were too expensive. This not only prevented us from having any reporting visibility in terms of network usage, but also hindered user support,” said Morel. The Paris facility was also not compatible with the latest Wi-Fi technologies in terms of coverage, security and visitor management. “As Linkbynet is a fast growing company, we had to quickly find a scalable solution based on our own pace, while controlling costs.”
Within three days we received an access point and within minutes we deployed our desired configuration, without any use of documentation or help from technical support.
IT Security Engineer
At the start of the project, Linkbynet had two objectives. The first was to find a solution that would not require excessive training, administration and monitoring. The second was a solution that would be affordable.
Morel discovered Meraki when reading Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Wireless LAN Infrastructure. “It was important for us to examine an innovative player in addition to the usual players in this segment,” he said. To complete his research, Morel also investigated networking solutions from Avaya and Aerohive.
“We chose Meraki because it was so fast and easy to manage in the evaluation process,” he said. “Within three days we received an access point and within minutes we deployed our desired configuration, without any use of documentation or help from technical support. It is very simple to configure Meraki hardware with advanced features.”
Linkbynet were impressed with the reporting capabilities on offer from Meraki’s web-based dashboard. Using the Layer 7 visibility on the dashboard, Morel was able to understand how different users utilised the network. “We liked the product design as well as the information-rich network summary reports available from the dashboard,” Morel said. “Additionally the approach of network management from the cloud resulted in significant savings compared to traditional vendors, where purchasing a physical controller accounted for almost half of the quote.”
Linkbynet deployed 15 Meraki cloud-managed wireless APs, including one outdoor AP, and 6 Meraki cloud-managed switches at their head office. Most recently, an AP was also sent to the company’s subsidiaries in Montreal and Nantes.
“We just sent an access point to our Montreal branch,” Morel explained. “A network administrator connected it within seconds and replicated the setup we had at our headquarters. This allowed us to have the same configuration and the same level of security there as we have here. After the ease of deployment outside our headquarters, we plan to deploy Meraki at our other offices in Nantes and Mauritius.”
The physical installation of 14 indoor APs was facilitated by Meraki’s rapid installation design and network configuration took 15 minutes. “What is interesting is that we were able to prepare the configuration on the dashboard even before the access points were turned on,” Morel said. “Upon connection, the access points automatically connected to the cloud and retrieved their configuration settings.”
At the Linkbynet head office, Morel configured three SSIDs. Employees connect to a dedicated SSID, authenticating with 802.1X integrated with Linkbynet’s Active Directory. Guests connect to an isolated SSID, with temporary logins, which are created by reception using a Guest Ambassador account in the dashboard. Finally, Linkbynet configured a third SSID secured with WPA2-PSK for Make-A-Wish-France, an association that the company hosts on their premises. By segmenting users into these three SSIDs and applying appropriate security policies for each, Linkbynet significantly improved security without complicating the user experience.
With the rich visibility and simplicity of the Meraki dashboard, Morel is now able to produce regular reports about the usage of applications and monitor the overall health of the network. “It’s been a few months since we started using the dashboard and it’s nice to see that there are regular updates that add new features,” he said. “I am especially a fan of the ‘make a wish’ box at the bottom of each page on the dashboard where we can enter suggestions for additional features that we would like to see appear.”
Overall the Linkbynet users and staff are very happy with the Meraki network. “It’s fantastic! There is very little management required,” Morel said. “If anything abnormal happens, Meraki automatically sends an email to let us know. Not to mention the monthly report on the use of infrastructure.”