UK-based global staffing firm focused exclusively on the SAP market
7 international offices staffing 250+ employees and hundreds of contracts
Central management of Meraki wireless, switching, security, & EMM
As members of the largest worldwide staffing agency focused entirely on the SAP market, the 250 globally distributed employees at RED dedicate themselves to thoroughly understanding every aspect of SAP. These deep insights, alongside an extensive qualification process, enable RED to effectively place thousands of SAP professionals in roles that are uniquely suited to their skills.
The 7 international RED offices generate a staggering amount of activity each day: 5,000 phone calls, communications with 70-80 countries, and hundreds of contracts in motion. With just 8 people on the IT team, Luke Braham, IT Manager at RED, deployed the Cisco Meraki solution within each of the offices to achieve simplified, centralised management. The flexibility inherent in the products allows Braham’s team to quickly deploy to sites without having to go on-site, as well as to easily migrate devices between office locations when needed.
Original Networking Challenges
The previous on-premise solution provided limited visibility into how the network was being utilised and made it challenging to identify and resolve potential issues.
Braham found it difficult to get a holistic view of the network and could not manage the 7 distributed sites from a central location, requiring him to go on-site when changes needed to be made, a time-consuming and costly endeavour.
Why Cisco Meraki
Having a complete internal and external view of the network was a key factor in Braham’s decision to implement Meraki. The centralised visibility and control built into the Meraki portfolio allows him to easily and remotely manage the various locations, devices, access levels, and systems in one simplified web-based dashboard.
RED has been moving towards a cloud-based model throughout the company over the past 18 months, allowing employees to be more mobile. Not only does the Meraki dashboard assist the IT team in doing the same, but Systems Manager, Meraki’s EMM platform, gives the team more control over mobile devices, from analytics to resource management.
With up to 15 SSIDs per network, Braham and his team can customise various types of network access and availability based on user and device type, while also ensuring appropriate usage.
In an international environment, [Meraki] makes sense. It’s secure and we have a complete view of what’s going on. Today, it’s the only platform that allows you to manage your entire infrastructure from one place.
After receiving a Meraki Access Point for attending a webinar, Braham went on to trial the device and found that the subscription model was ideal and in line with the operational expenditure model of procuring services that RED was adopting for its technology services.
According to Braham, the initial deployment was very quick, “and if I had to do it again today, I could do everything in about 30 minutes.”
The numerous SSIDs allow RED to segment various user and device groups, permitting each of them customisable access to corporate resources and bandwidth usage. This means more intelligent bandwidth consumption.
Several SSIDs are configured to meet a variety of needs: RED-deployed devices with RADIUS authentication, a Content Management System that can have its bandwidth throttled down, iPhones with limitations on OS updates to prevent bandwidth hogging, segregated internal open networks for applications like Sonos and other external devices, and lastly, a guest network. Each of the customised SSIDs means that Braham and his team “don’t have to worry about who’s connecting or what they’re doing.”
Meraki Systems Manager EMM provides endpoint monitoring for both company and personal BYOD devices. This allows the IT team to provide direct access to appropriate wireless networks, remotely push required applications to the devices, and proactively define how users interact with their devices and available resources.
Security appliances provide high availability at each location with spares configured to use a separate Internet provider for added resiliency. Because the Meraki MX appliance is a Unified Threat Management (UTM) device, the RED IT team can also implement built-in features like Active Directory integration to ensure user groups are followed through the network; threat protection powered by Threat Grid; content filtering provided by BrightCloud; and self-healing, intelligent VPN connections to provide seamless site-to-site connectivity.
All of the company’s traffic then routes back through a central core switch which segments traffic based on VLAN assignments, essentially creating a DMZ within the network.
Due to the nature of RED’s business, it follows the economy and demand for jobs, we are able to quickly decommission, recommission, and provision the Meraki devices in the dashboard while they were in transit to whichever location needed them next, preventing a loss in time, resources, or equipment value.
Over the past 18 months, RED has been migrating to a complete cloud-based organisation, permitting them to not only support a mobile workforce, but also provide an agile foundation that can scale with the needs of the economy.
The tools in the Meraki dashboard have also cut deployment times drastically, saving in cost and man-hours. For example, the IT team can simply clone existing configurations and replicate them across devices in seconds, rather than hours, days, or weeks.
With a complete Cisco Meraki infrastructure in place, Braham and the IT team are able to quickly identify anomalies in the network and take proactive measures before end users report potential issues.
Not only does the IT team benefit from ongoing feature releases and firmware updates, giving them a future-proofed solution, but they can also opt in to a beta program, allowing them to take advantage of the latest innovations that Meraki has to offer.
“Meraki makes deployments incredibly fast,” Braham explained. “It’s feature-rich and done in a way that’s graphically based and user-friendly, without the need to know complex command lines. Out of the box, you have everything you need.”
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