Cisco Meraki products offer a whole host of opportunities to equip your enterprise for the technical challenges of the future. The purpose of this case study is to present a range of features offered by Cisco Meraki.

Exacting demands placed on a hotel chain’s network

In our example, the enterprise network of a pan-European hotel chain is to be updated. The aim is to gain better control over the enterprise network, which is prone to faults. The company headquarters houses the administration, accounting and IT department. The chain owns hotels all around the world and specialises in premium city breaks and spa retreats. One thing that all the hotels in the chain have in common is that they must access the company’s own booking system as well as Cloud-based applications for accounting and orders. Guests demand stable Wi-Fi in the public areas of the hotel as well as in their own rooms. In order to ensure not only convenience but also security, the hotels have video surveillance in lobbies and car parks.

High costs and time-consuming support place strain on the hotels

The limitations of the previously used technical system became ever clearer with the emergence of new requirements in connection with Cloud applications and Internet availability. There was no uniform hardware solution implemented in the individual hotels as local companies had been engaged to carry out installation. This led to switches and access points from different manufacturers and with different firmware versions being used not only at the various locations but also within individual hotels.

The IT team at the firm’s headquarters had no insight into the infrastructure of the individual hotels, making support in the event of disruptions expensive, time-consuming and of fluctuating quality. However, a secure and reliable network connection to company headquarters is absolutely essential for the hotel chain’s booking system. Nevertheless, regular failures occurred, which the headquarters IT team could only localise and remedy to a limited extent. External IT service providers often had to be called in, causing costs to soar. Moreover, guests regularly complained about poor Wi-Fi coverage in the rooms, which had a negative effect on the hotel’s ratings.

Cisco Meraki provides the solution to the wide-ranging problems

The proposal was to implement a holistic network solution for the entire enterprise network to provide a quick solution to the complex range of problems. It was important to find a future-proof and scalable solution with simple administration. The IT department wanted to be able to solve problems in individual hotels by means of remote maintenance. Cisco Meraki was able to make these wishes come true.

Migration was realised within a short time with a small team

Changing the hardware was a simple job and was completed across Europe in a matter of a few weeks. There was no need to employ additional specialists as setting-up the system proved to be no trouble at all for the small five-man IT team from headquarters. The company only required temporary staff on site for the physical installation of the hardware, with the set-up being carried out before physical installation by means of zero-touch provisioning from headquarters. The serial numbers were all that was required for configuration, and, thanks to templates, a configuration can be distributed quickly to the MR Series access points and MS Series switches.

Thanks to SD-WAN, the network can be adapted to fulfil expectations

A secure SD-WAN was also realised without difficulty. Cisco Meraki’s MX Series provides various solutions adapted to the size of the local network. Each hotel now has two WAN lines to company headquarters, one line being reserved for administration and the booking system while the second line ensures that guests have Internet. Should the Internet be down, the critical WAN line for the booking system is protected by an LTE failover.

Furthermore, the IT team at headquarters can allocate the appropriate WAN according to user group or application. This ensures that the in-house booking system always has sufficient resources while non-critical applications and the guests can use the second WAN line. The available bandwidth can be allocated to the WAN lines flexibly and according to needs. Together with the new access points, this organisation ensures stable Wi-Fi provision for guests without restricting the hotel’s critical applications.

Switch to the Cisco Meraki MV Series for the security cameras

Once the hotel had become convinced of the benefits of Cloud-based network technology, the security cameras were replaced. Second-generation Cisco Meraki MV cameras were selected for both indoors and outdoors. The hotels in the chain had previously had a local solution for video surveillance. When thefts occurred, staff had to view the entire video material, which was time-consuming and often prone to failures as security surveillance failed when there were issues with the network. The customer therefore wanted to find a uniform and reliable solution.

As the firm had already had good experience with the Cisco Meraki dashboard, it did not take them long to opt for the MV Series. With images being stored on the camera itself and retrieved via the dashboard, two goals were achieved at the same time: surveillance is now reliable as video recordings are stored without relying on the network and, at the same time, they can be retrieved by authorised persons via the dashboard. The smart algorithms belonging to the overall package also simplify evaluation as they make events or objects easy to find.

Laptop mit Beispiel für das Meraki Dashboard

New insights thanks to the Meraki dashboard’s analytics tools

Since the system was switched to Cisco Meraki, the company headquarters has gained new insights into its hotels. Not only does the IT team now have full control over the enterprise network through the dashboard, the headquarters can also use new data in shaping its corporate strategy. Thanks to functions such as location analytics and heat maps, information regarding customer behaviour can now be acquired and incorporated into business decisions.

On the whole, the switch to the Cisco Meraki Cloud solution reduced overall infrastructure costs while also improving quality. In combination with the smart analytics tools, there are benefits to be had for the whole enterprise that go way beyond IT.