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SoulCycle, a New York City-based fitness company, offers customers dynamic and energetic classes that are “an alternative to the fitness routines that [feel] like work.” With over 60 studios spread across the United States, SoulCycle prides itself on delivering inspirational and high-energy indoor cycling classes for its customers. To continue this tradition of scalable and innovative experiences for their customers, SoulCycle decided to deploy Cisco Meraki security appliances in each of their locations.
When Derek McWilliams, the IT engineer responsible for all of SoulCycle’s IT infrastructure, first started at the company, he quickly became frustrated with the traditional networking infrastructure that had been deployed before he joined. Having first tested MR Access Points at a previous company, he was already impressed that Meraki hardware “literally deployed in 15 minutes” and how they “took longer to put up on the wall than it did to configure them.” Wanting security features in addition to cloud management, Derek then began testing and installing MX Security Appliances in all of their locations.
Due to the template-based configuration, ease of connecting different sites to their corporate network, and simple remote deployment functionality, Derek decided to opt for MX Security Appliances. Prior to his deployment of the MX, if he wanted to add any new hardware to the SoulCycle network, Derek would receive the hardware, do an initial configuration on his end, send it to a remote team for on-premise deployment, and then Derek would have to do a final configuration after the deployment. Since 99% of their studios have identical settings and configurations, this quickly became a tedious and redundant process.
Meraki has helped SoulCycle be aggressive in terms of our deployments, our growth, and our scale. I don’t think there’s another product out there that can allow us to do IT refreshes in the time that we have with Meraki.Derek McWilliams, IT Engineer at SoulCycle
Now, with MX appliances, Derek is able to easily utilize configuration templates, which can allow many Cisco Meraki devices to be deployed following a single base configuration. As Derek explained, “When I saw the template configurations, that really opened my eyes to how we could quickly deploy an MX as we open more studios.” This means that with the push of a button Derek can have a pre-configured network up and running with his exact specifications. If any networks need further customization, additional configurations can easily be made on top of the template-based network. This makes new site rollouts exceptionally easy for Derek and his lean IT team. In fact, due to the speed of deployment, Derek said his team was actually a month ahead of schedule during their initial roll-out. This decrease in network configuration time helps the SoulCycle IT team focus on more important tasks, like maintenance of server infrastructure.
The SoulCycle team has also utilized the Layer 7 firewall rules on the MX, which provide the ability to create rules to deny certain traffic based on traffic type. For example, a network administrator can easily block all P2P and gaming traffic via intelligent fingerprinting that is built into all MX appliances. As Derek put it, “Layer 7 firewall rules are something with the MX that’s out-of-the-box that we didn’t get with our previous solution. The old solution could do Layer 3, port and protocols, but we couldn’t block certain types of traffic unless we paid extra for additional licenses.” Furthermore, due to Meraki’s straightforward “one license for one piece of hardware” model, SoulCycle’s MX Security Appliances are future-proof and will continue receiving updates and functionality long after they have been deployed.
Beyond template-based deployments and Layer 7 firewall rules, Derek also cited how easy it was to set up site-to-site VPN tunnels between the SoulCycle corporate office and their various studios. He said that when it comes to setting up corporate offices, “the hard work is done by Meraki, while the easy bit is done by me.” Halfway through their MX deployment in studios, Derek deployed an MX100 in their Los Angeles corporate office. He said, “I had another IT engineer remotely do the same setup and configuration that we used for studios, with the only difference being that it was a hub and not a spoke. Within a couple of minutes, the LA office already had tunnels established to all of our other networks. To put this in context, with our previous solution, the same task would have taken me 7-8 hours to do.”
Looking forward, Derek shared that it is the ease of use, speed of deployment, and simple scalability of the Meraki solution that has helped SoulCycle achieve their company motto to be dynamic and to “move fast.” Specifically, he said, “Meraki has helped SoulCycle be aggressive in terms of our deployments, our growth, and our scale. I don’t think there’s another product out there that can allow us to do IT refreshes in the time that we have with Meraki.”