Looking after network of 17 offices in 11 countries
Saving significantly in resources with Meraki
The MacArtney Group are experts in underwater technology solutions. Since its founding in 1978, the Danish company has been supplying these solutions to operators and developers within industries like oil & gas, renewable energy, civil engineering, ocean science, and fisheries. Everything their customers purchase, from cameras to remote-controlled robots, is custom-made.
Jacob Rønberg, MacArtney’s IT Administration Manager, looks after the network of 17 offices in 11 countries. With help from two other colleagues, also based at the Danish HQ, he supports the needs of 450 employees in offices from San Diego to Singapore. Until a few years ago, managing a very diverse and complicated network was quite a headache for the IT team. The myriad of different products from different vendors made it a hassle to troubleshoot and to guarantee proper network security.
Jacob had been following Meraki since its founding in 2006, so when it was time to update MacArtney’s network, he was very keen on comparing the Meraki cloud-managed solution with a few other vendors. A lean IT team with so many different locations to manage needed a secure, stable, and simple solution.
What I love about Meraki is the manageability. If three people have to manage a network all around the world, it needs to be simple because we just don’t have enough time.
IT Administration Manager
Once the decision was made, Jacob’s team started ordering Meraki MX security appliances. As they renewed each site, they also gradually implemented MS225 switches and MR33 access points. When the order was placed, the team immediately got an order number which allowed them to configure the devices before they even arrived. With products from other vendors, Jacob would have gone on site, but with Meraki it’s as close to plug-and-play as it can get. It’s so simple that when MacArtney recently changed their Internet service provider in Norway, an employee reconfigured the firewall during half of his lunch break.
MacArtney’s network is configured in a mesh topology, routing traffic to VPN tunnels. Aside from manageability, security is a number one priority for the company, which is where the MX security appliances come in handy. Features like Security Centre offer the ability to intervene both reactively and proactively in response to threats. It even contains a retroactive feature which prompts an alert if someone downloaded a virus several days ago.
On the switch level there are multiple features Jacob hadn’t even thought about before. The fact that he can simply select a switch port and have granular visibility saves him a lot of time and effort. Cable testing from anywhere in the world and Layer 3 routing are other examples of how Meraki’s switches can do more. “Most people consider the firewall as the core of the network, but if you want to optimize for speed and efficiency you need to set up the switch for routing and not the firewall. There are so many features on the switch that I like and, thanks to Meraki, it becomes the brain of your network.”
For wireless access to the network Jacob’s team has set up 2 SSIDs. One of them is used as a guest network and is set up with SMS platform Twilio. Guests can now just login with their phone number and receive an SMS code to connect securely. Thanks to the smooth API integration there are no more guest codes lying around at MacArtney, creating a more secure, efficient, and positive visitor experience.
One of Jacob’s favourite wireless features is the ability to connect SSIDs directly via a VPN tunnel to the office. One of MacArtney’s suppliers often needs help on-site, requiring MacArtney employees to work remotely from their office. By using the Meraki Z1 device they just put a Meraki access point on the supplier’s site with an SSID to create a direct VPN tunnel back to MacArtney’s HQ. On top of that, they don’t even have to mess with the supplier’s network or ask them to make changes.
Simplicity, security, and stability are the three words Jacob uses to summarize MacArtney’s current network. “I was recently setting up the network in our German office and plugged an access point into a PoE switch. The switch died but the AP kept working, creating a self-healing wireless network”, he mentions. Meraki helps his team work much more efficiently, which saves the company significantly in resources.
On a mission to keep improving, Jacob is now also looking into the Meraki MV security cameras to replace older equipment. Adding MV cameras to the network will help Jacob’s team to also manage video surveillance in the Meraki dashboard. Another network element simplified or as Jacob summarizes it:
I had a lot of ‘wow-experiences’ with Meraki. It’s one of those brands you just fall in love with