B4RN – Better Connected

Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) is a community-led project that has been helping bring hyper speed broadband to rural areas for 12 years.

When B4RN approached us for their recent network rollout, we wanted to ensure that whatever solution we provided for them served the most compelling case. To do this, we had our sales manager, Alex Hammond, work closely with B4RN to evaluate all vendors in the market.

Working as a team, we didn’t want to just provide connectivity to B4RN’s customers – we wanted to provide the best-in-class internet that they could possibly have, powered by the best technology on the market.

To hear how this impacted B4RN and the communities they provide internet for, watch and enjoy the video below.

Update: 13th Feb 2024

Juniper networks press release: B4RN Brings High-Speed Fiber Internet to over 13,000 Customers in Northern England with Juniper Networks’ Core Network Technology

Published on 6th February 2024
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Introducing the Kubus Compute & Store Kube

Compute & Store. It’s the part of your business’ network infrastructure that manipulates data and stores the results. Whether this is being done at a small scale such as office spreadsheets and warehouse record-keeping, or for Big Data calculations in climate simulations, AI language modelling, or global financial transactions; the fundamental technology requirements remain the same.

Given its highly crucial role, the process of upgrading or acquiring new compute & store technology can be a daunting task – and to make things even more complex, it’s not just the day-to-day hardware that needs to be considered. There really is a lot to think about:

What servers do you need? Plan for how much computational power you need now and in the future.

How much data do you need to store (and immediately access)? Live data that is accessed by users on a regular basis, and predicting how this will expand.

What about archiving data? Backups of inactive data often need to be kept for legal or regulatory reasons.

Have you planned for disaster recovery? Ransomware and cyberattacks can cripple a system and effective disaster recovery planning and systems can help you get back up and running with minimal disruptions.

Do you want your equipment on-premises, off-site, or both? Cloud and hybrid-cloud technologies can offer a different level of platform flexibility – and cost structure – to owned kit.

And of course, don’t forget your users. What tools are you going to provide them with to access these systems?

We understand the complexities of finding and provisioning compute & store systems. It’s for this very reason that we’ve decided to condense the key aspects above into the 6 faces of our new Kubus Compute & Store Kube: Servers, Storage, Backup, Cloud, Disaster Recovery, and End User Devices.

Each face represents technologies and solutions from world-leading compute and store vendors; solutions that we can help select, configure, and implement for your business; helping you keep doing what you do best, whatever calculation that is.

Get in touch – we’re ready to help.

Published on 9th January 2024
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Introducing the Kubus Security Kube

In our 20 years of serving the IT infrastructure industry, we’ve helped everything from startups to FTSE100 businesses find comprehensive solutions that provide the perfect resolution to the boundaries and issues they are facing. Whether it involves network, compute, or security solutions, our strong connections to world-leading tech providers, excellent in-house team of tech experts, and vast distribution network has enabled us to get the job done – fast and effectively.

With this level of experience, we understand how overwhelming it can be for a business when it comes to looking for new tech solutions – particularly when selecting security solutions to protect against the ever-growing threats presented by cyber criminals.

So, we decided to condense our entire security solution catalogue under 6 all-encompassing cybersecurity headers. Advanced Endpoint Protection, Next Gen Firewall, Observability, Physical Security, Privileged Access Management, Remote Worker – these are the 6 pillars that represent the 6 sides of the new Kubus Security Kube.

All 6 pillars are represented by cutting-edge solutions from world-leading cybersecurity technology vendors. Solutions that you can rely on to protect your business from current -and future- threats.

Get in touch – we’ll keep you safe from all sides.

Published on 12th September 2023
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How will AI Change the Future of Networking?

An introduction to AI in networking

Artificial intelligence. A popular conversation topic with plenty of media coverage over the last few years; we are now starting to see AI innovate and change the way things are done in a wide range of industries. From the farming industry utilising AI to gain in-depth analytics, improving crop yield – to governments using it to make data-driven decisions. Many businesses and organisations are finding ways to innovate with this highly valuable and versatile technology.

IT networking can now also benefit.

With the ever-increasing demands that networks are facing, it’s important that businesses find new solutions to ensure that their network infrastructure remains reliable, secure, and agile. If a business’s network goes down, so does their profit. Constant innovation is crucial to stay ahead of the game.

AI is a perfect tool to help with this.

How is AI affecting networking?

By utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning, businesses are offloading low-level tasks, learning more about how their networks are being used, whilst analysing and optimising the performance of their infrastructure.

A key benefit of integrating AI solutions is the opportunity to free up more time for IT teams – allowing them to focus on forward-thinking innovations, finding more ways to optimise the network and its operations. And it won’t be just the IT team that finds and implements new ways to optimise the network; with the right setup, AI-driven infrastructure will find ways to work harder and more efficiently automatically – all thanks to machine learning.

By analysing network patterns and abnormalities, AI can raise the alarm if it detects an anomaly within the network – allowing network admins to identify issues before they become critical problems. This, paired with automatic troubleshooting and self-healing capabilities, enables businesses with AI integrated infrastructure to be confident that their network will remain stable and operational around the clock.

Network security is another critical area that AI can help businesses with. Thanks to machine learning, AI security solutions can learn from previous threats and attacks to help create an autonomous, resilient barrier against future security threats and anomalies.

A more reliable user experience is also made possible thanks to AI. With visibility into the user’s end-to-end experience with the business’s network, AI can identify areas that can be made more efficient, streamlining and optimising the user’s entire interaction; in turn creating a more reliable, predictable experience.

What does AI hold for the future of networking?

As networks develop and become inevitably more complex, AI will become more intelligent and capable to match. With so many IoT devices connecting to networks and transmitting data across them, the magnitude of things that could go wrong increases. AI will be needed to help manage and administer this ever-growing quantity of IoT devices, automating and optimising any would-be hands-on tasks.

In turn, this continued optimisation will free up the IT team, enabling them to spend more time focusing on tasks that will further business goals, rather than menial, every-day tasks; helping the business elevate to higher levels of productivity.

With an increasingly data-driven world fast approaching, industries will need to harness powerful tools such as AI to sift through and make sense of it all. In turn, businesses will be able to make more impactful, data-backed decisions. An investment into AI-based network solutions is one that is certain to pay off.

How can we help you?

With AI becoming such a major driving force for progression in industries far and wide, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve with the latest solutions.

Finding the most effective AI solutions for your network can be an intimidating task, though.

Whether it be orchestrating your entire tech estate from anywhere in the world, attaining advanced insights into how your network is being used, setting up 24/7 AI-based automated network monitoring, or even utilising AI to optimise and improve your customers experience within your establishment from entrance to exit; we can help you find the solution that will provide the best use case for your business.

Get in touch today to speak to one of our experts.

Written by Sam Linnell
Published on 6th June 2023
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The Hybrid Working Environment

It’s no surprise that remote working has seen a rise in popularity over the past 3 years. Improved productivity, healthier work/life balance, better mental health – just a few benefits that a hybrid-working schedule can offer – and just a few reasons why so many companies have made the shift to providing hybrid-working opportunities.

Employees that work hybrid schedules often find themselves working from various locations. Their own home. The local café. Hotels across the world. A client’s site. For this reason, it’s important that, no matter where they are connecting from, workers can access all the applications and files they need to go abouts their workdays, in a secure, efficient, and effective way.

This may be just the beginning of the hybrid-working revolution, though. With so many benefits for both the employer and employee, many companies have their eyes set on shifting to infrastructure that supports working hybrid. Those that have made the change to hybrid have reaped the rewards of higher talent acquisition, staff retention, and overall improved access to a higher number of potential employees thanks to the removal of geological restrictions.

However, finding the right solution(s) can be a daunting task. With so many different options available to build your hybrid-working suite, it can be difficult to find the best tech that truly suits your business’s specific needs.

The Journey to Hybrid Working

Of course, every company is at a different stage of their hybrid work journey. Comprising of a sample of 1,430 global respondents (representing companies with 250 to 5,000+ employees across 20 industry sectors), Cisco, partnered with IDC, conducted and designed research to fuel key insights into hybrid work initiatives, to construct what Cisco have coined ‘The Hybrid Work Maturity Model’. They found that there are 4 types of organisations:

Hybrid Work Observers (7%): Organisations that are beginning to explore different hybrid-work models but still work mainly within the office.

Hybrid Work Adopters (47%): Organisations that are beginning to invest in technology, enabling them to operate hybrid.

Hybrid Work Champions (38%): Organisations that have introduced hybrid work in specific departments and are seeing improved business outcomes but are yet to introduce hybrid work throughout the whole organisation.

Hybrid Work Innovators (8%): Organisations that have well-established, company-wide hybrid working policies, and have the technology and capabilities to support a hybrid-first strategy.

From Cisco’s findings and evaluation, it’s clear to see that most organisations are yet to fully embrace hybrid working – with many keen to adopt the necessary technology to support their employee’s work from outside the office.

Why is Hybrid Work so important?

Organisations have seen that the shift to remote work not only increases the speed of digital infrastructure and technology solution adoption but also brings people policies and company culture to the forefront. This shared experience across the workforce changes expectations of employees and employers alike. But how can you evolve traditional on-site and off-site work models by designing the work experience around and for the worker, wherever they are?

For any business to meet its primary aim, it must address the three foremost areas of concern: cybersecurity, productivity, and workforce attraction and retention in the face of an ageing workforce during a wildly competitive market. 

So, why is having the capability to provide hybrid work to employees so important?

The new generation of workers will be harder to recruit and will expect a hybrid work environment that demands a more efficient, semi-autonomous operating environment. Here are some stats:

  • 75% of hybrid of remote workers say their expectations for working flexibly have increased, with 4 out of 10 stating they may leave their job if they’re required to return to the office full-time (Gartner).
  • 69% of global CIOs, IT decision-makers and office workers say that the ability to dictate their own working hours directly affects whether they stay at a job; 64% say the ability to work remotely directly affects whether they stay or leave a job (Cisco, Future of Technology, November 2021)
  • 98% of all business meetings will have at least one person joining from a home office (Cisco Global Workforce Survey: The Rise of Hybrid Workplace Report)

To face the future of work with confidence, companies must have in place robust collaboration capabilities that are easy to use, ironclad against cyber threats, and limitless in their scalability.

Making Hybrid Working, Work

The thing is, for many, it’s not exactly clear what technology is most optimal for their hybrid working infrastructure. That’s where we can help. Every unique business faces unique challenges. Unique challenges require unique solutions. We’ll help you find the perfect solution for your business and its specific challenges.

Whether it’s ensuring that your staff are accessing company files securely, utilising a zero-trust network, building SASE architecture, creating cloud infrastructure to host and supply applications and files, setting up company-wide 2FA and VPNs, or even supplying the appropriate machines for your staff to do what they do best – with a team of skilled experts, unique relationships with world leading tech providers, and a global logistics network that enables us to deliver to almost anywhere in the world, we can find and build the best solution for you.

Written by Sam Linnell
Published on 16th March 2023
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The Importance of Customer Experience

Why Is Your Customer Experience So Important?

Since 2018 -and even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic- there has been a major shift in consumer spending habits, with more customers putting their money towards experiences rather than material items. In fact, a survey in 2020 showed that 76 percent of consumers would rather spend their money on experiences, rather than material items; and with this new priority of consumer spending persisting to this day, it looks like the prioritisation of memorable experience is here to stay.

Whether watching sport, seeing a concert, or going out for the day to a shopping centre or theme park, people are looking for more immersive, engaging experiences. Customers want their day out to be hassle free, safe, and fulfilling. They want to get the most they possibly can out of their visit. As a provider for your customers, it’s you and your staff’s responsibility to ensure that your customers day surpasses their expectations. This responsibility doesn’t only weigh on your employees’ shoulders though; to provide a truly memorable experience, your IT infrastructure should be capable of enabling you to provide a modern, catered, and truly personalised day out for your customers.

By creating a memorable experience, you can enhance customer loyalty, boost referrals rates, and challenge the alternative that is the at home-live experience.

Enhancing Your Customer Experience

Businesses that operate with and in fact require large footfall -like sports, entertainment, and retail venues- have all begun adopting new technologies that aim to improve the customers enjoyment throughout their journey. Despite this, there are still some key customer pain points that are yet to be addressed. Entry to venues. Queues for merchandise and food. The demand for immersive, personalised customer experiences. All of these contribute to leaving a long-lasting, memorable impression with the customer.

With some small changes the business opportunity for your organisations is massive. By utilising an architecture that suits the needs of the modern-day customer, you’ll be able to understand your customers using real-time data, providing insight into when and where your customers are in your establishment. In turn, you can:

  • Increase sales.
  • Streamline operations.
  • Improve safety by understanding pinch points.
  • Build a better commercial business model, attracting more sponsorship deals.
  • Maximise retailer shop space.
  • Find out what productions/shows perform the best.
  • Allocate staff more efficiently.

By providing a high-density, sustainable network which is purpose-built for sports, entertainment, and retail venues, you can create new opportunities for captivating and engaging content to enhance the attendee’s experience.

Stronger Wi-Fi. State-of-the-art digital signage. Cameras and sensors paired with intelligent analytical and management software. E tickets. By delivering a more convenient and customised experience, patrons will be kept fully engaged and informed. All of this helps towards making their experience with your business unforgettable.

How Can We Help?

If you are looking to improve your fan experience, we can help you. With access to cutting-edge solutions and technology thanks to our connections to world leading vendors, we can help you find the perfect solution for your business and its specific needs.

Make your customer’s experience unforgettable and keep them coming back. Get in touch today to find out what we can do to help you.

Written by Kubus
Published on 13th February 2023
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The Kubus Podcast is Here

We are very pleased and proud to announce the publication of the first episode of our new podcast: Kubus Podcast Series. In each episode we’ll be meeting and talking to individuals who can give us real insight into the problems, solutions and people in our technology industry.

In the first episode this series, Katy Maley (Vendor Manager at Kubus) sits down to talk to Kubus’ Paul Bonner (Chief Technical Officer and all-round bearded boffin) about his time in the company, managing an ever-growing technical team, collaborating with our customers’ engineering teams, the support side of Kubus, what makes Kubus a unique Juniper partner, and various other Kubus-related topics.

Katy Maley

Katy Maley

Podcast Host and Vendor Manager at Kubus

In future episodes we’ll continue to explore the relationships we have with our vendor partners; explore the products and services they offer at the cutting edge of network, cloud and security technologies; and dive into some case studies exploring specific business requirements and the selection methods and technical solutions used to satisfy them.

We’ll also drag in some other members of our Senior Leadership Team for insights into what working for Kubus means for them and their stakeholders.

Paul Bonner

Paul Bonner

Chief Technical Officer at Kubus

Whilst we continue to wrack our brains for a catchier podcast title, why not listen to the first episode? You can listen now using the player below, or get it from all good podcast services and apps including Anchor, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Spotify, just search for Kubus Podcast Series.

We hope you enjoy it. Don’t forget to share and click Subscribe!

Kubus Podcast
Written by Kubus
Published on 19th January 2023
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[Extract] Empowering digital transformation

The following is an extract from an article written by Kubus and published by Business Reporter.

Evolution. Adapting to survive. Basic principles of the natural world; fundamental necessities in the business world. With the digitisation of many everyday activities, businesses must evolve to meet ever-changing customer demands.

Over the past few years, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these ever-changing customer demands have seen a major shift, setting a precedent for the new normal. With the numerous lockdowns and social distancing restrictions of 2020 and 2021, many businesses had to find new ways of operating, all while attempting to maintain similar levels of turnover.

For many businesses, this new way of operating has involved some form of digital transformation – the process of digitising necessary areas of operations to adapt and overcome modern-day hurdles.

You can read the full article here: Business Reporter – Empowering digital transformation

Written by Kubus
Published on 6th October 2022
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Adapting to the Work From Home Climate

With the ever-evolving technological landscape, and the unexpected and unforeseen pandemic that was Covid-19 (and all the stay-at-home rules that ensued), remote and hybrid remote employment has seen a significant rise; and it looks like for many it is here to stay – with a recent poll showing that 84% of workers plan to carry on working from home in the future (according to the Office for National Statistics).

The mass movement to work from home employment has challenged many businesses’ infrastructures and means of operation, with a great deal of them still striving to find methods to make the process more connected and effective. Designing and building efficient systems to accommodate working from home can be an arduous and intimidating task for many businesses; no aspects can be overlooked, from how employees will communicate, to how they will share files – and, imperatively, how all this confidential information will be protected from outside threats.

How the Cloud is helping to drive the shift

Cloud computing has been invaluable for adapting to remote and hybrid-remote working. It enables employees to access vital information and collaborate on tasks, regardless of location. Along with this, many cloud systems allow organisations to allocate role specific permissions, making files accessible on a need-to-know basis. This is crucial to helping a business control who can obtain what information, and when – helping to keeping confidential and business critical information in check.

Of course, Cloud-managed networks must be scalable for the ever-evolving business sphere. Cisco Meraki offers a perfect solution, enabling organisations to operate and maintain their distributed network infrastructure from a single interface – the Meraki dashboard. Such a solution has enabled businesses to prepare for whatever might happen next – with automation to help stay one step ahead.

Whether a company is a micro-SME or a global organisation, Dell offers highly scalable options for server, storage and hyperconverged infrastructure, enabling businesses to find smarter ways of operating using cloud technology. Payment models such as Flex-on-Demand and Pay-as-you-Grow enable more efficient spending for cloud solutions, ensuring that no excess is spent on unused server or storage space.

Juniper Network’s solution offers the combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning, automating tasks and ensuring that any network issues are met with a swift resolution. This service also offers high levels of transparency for the operator, showing details such as devices/users connected, traffic patterns and application behaviour; enabling an organisation to make the most of their network infrastructure, whilst also saving them time and money.

Staying secure

It’s important to remember, though, that your business is only as secure as the weakest point in your network; and, with cloud technology, there can be plenty areas of potential weakness – especially when utilising a multi-cloud environment.

Whether you are utilising public or private cloud, you need total peace of mind that any business-critical information is protected by a modern-day cloud security solution. And, just like how the cyber threat landscape is ever evolving, your security should be highly reactive and adaptive.

Fortinet offer both public and private cloud protection focused on centralising management and visibility, delivering consistent policies, and automating security. Offering a broad portfolio of solutions, including Web App & API Protection, SaaS Security, Hybrid Security, and Cloud-native Protection, Fortinet Cloud Security can help an organisation simplify their cloud journey.

SentinelOne’s solution, SentinelOne Singularity Cloud, utilises AI to adapt to ever-changing cyber threats. Providing Cloud VM Security, Runtime Container Security, and the ONE Multi-Cloud Console (giving you the ability to manage security for all cloud infrastructures, IoT devices and user endpoints from one console), Singularity Cloud offers a broad and versatile solution to keep all aspects of cloud operations safe.

Last, but certainly not least, is Palo Alto’s cloud security solution Prisma Cloud. Acting as a single unified solution, Prisma Cloud offers top-level visibility and protection, securing applications, infrastructure, data, and entitlements across a wide range of leading clouds. A versatile solution intended for use with both hybrid and multi-cloud environments, the Prisma suite secures an organisations public cloud operations under lock and key.

Written by Sam Linnell
Published on 3rd October 2022
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Cisco SD-WAN Solutions: How could they help me?

Have a read of a few Cisco SD-WAN case studies from customers across the world to learn more.

A Large Healthcare Organisation

Pierce V. Systems/Network Engineer – Manager

We had started to look at remote connectivity options before the pandemic hit. Last fall, we embarked on a proof of concept using Cisco SD-WAN technology. We decided to limit ourselves to one vendor for SD-WAN because we wanted to stay with a single platform to manage both our on-prem and offsite users.

There are two key benefits to SD-WAN technology:

  1. It works over any public internet connection. We don’t have to lease special lines or sign SLAs with ISPs to ensure a stable and secure connection. The SD-WAN router shapes traffic and creates a secure tunnel that connects users to our network 24/7.
  2. The cloud-based configuration and activation. Our remote access support team can set up a Cisco SD-WAN router here and activate it after an employee brings it home. It’s plug and play for end users and administrators, and a lot easier to manage than setting up individual VPN accounts and login credentials.

As a result of the recent pandemic, we fast-tracked our implementation of this solution.

Our call center employees are now working from home because they cannot maintain social distancing at our facilities. As a primary point of contact with the healthcare network, they are frontline workers despite working remotely. We cannot risk compromising their call quality or access to our electronic health records and our booking systems by connecting them to our network via a lossy VPN connection.

We are also providing SD-WAN connectivity to cardiologists, radiologist, and other specialists who need to download high-resolution image files like CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. These documents are gigabytes in size and require the fastest and most stable connection we can provide to ensure their reliable transmission, and an SD-WAN link is the next best thing to a dedicated line.

I have an SD-WAN connection in my house, and it feels like I’m back at the office. I have access to our shared drives, monitoring systems, and data centers, 24/7. I can walk into my home office, wake up my computer, and I’m on the corporate network in seconds. It’s seamless.

One of my voice team members is on the West Coast and connects to our network from his home in California. There are roughly 80 milliseconds of lag between his router and our data center, but you can’t tell when you’re talking to him. He’s got a couple of phones on his desk but sounds like he’s in the next room, and not 2,500 miles away. We couldn’t have pulled this off with a VPN connection. The call clarity is astounding.

VR Group – Transport

Pasi Louko Senior Network Architect

Cisco’s software-defined network solution provides the perfect combination of security, scalability, and flexibility. It is completely unmatched in the market.

With the vision of the perfect architecture in my mind, and Cisco’s SD-WAN tools in my hands, I presented my plan to management. I designed the entire infrastructure in advance, including a three-phase timeline. My supervisor, saw the simplicity and power in my design, and I received a green light for the plan.

By September 2019, we’d completed the core infrastructure design. Since we are owned by the Finnish government, we needed to hold a public competition to find an operating partner who would manage our network. The entire process took five to six weeks, but by early February 2020 we signed the contract and were ready to begin the actual migration.

We had multiple sessions designing our new network-and the processes that went along with it. Under the new design, VR Group network architects like myself would be entirely responsible for design management. We own the devices and support contracts and provide operators with templates for any infrastructure problems or changes. The operators serve more of a direct physical support role, focused on basic operational matters.

Using this process gives the network architects greater control over a more centralized and unified structure. Changes to the entire network can be made in a matter of hours instead of taking several days. Meanwhile, the operators are happy because using templates-rather than having to perform manual changes-makes their work much easier. This alone provides a significant reduction in costs and employee time.

We also saved money on hardware. With a system that was more than a decade old, we were eventually going to have to update it. That would have required a large upfront capital investment, which wasn’t exactly in line with our cost-reduction goals. Using a software-defined network, however, changed that reality. Our larger offices no longer used cables. Most of our staff and equipment operated using Wi-Fi, with smaller offices using LTE and larger facilities using 4G connections. While these may not seem like a big deal, every little bit matters to that bottom line.

Transitioning to SD-WAN represents a huge leap forward for our company, and indeed our country. Traditional infrastructure uses static routing, which requires large investments of money and time to make changes. Our new software-based architecture, however, has transformed VR Group into a company that is truly dynamic. Any required changes or updates happen faster and easier and only have to be made once before being automatically updated to every device. Our structure is unified, with a central unit providing design oversight.

As a testament to the speed of provision, in two months, we have migrated more than 96% of our users to the new network. I love the standardization and simplified network management. My supervisors love that operational costs are significantly reduced because of new SD-WAN solution. We expect to complete phase one within the coming weeks, with all users on the new network. Phase two of the process will focus on implementing stronger security measures and a simplified firewall structure. After we have lived with the system for a while, phase three will involve a closer system review and an examination of unnecessary hardware.

With this new system in place, Cisco will have helped VR Group drastically improve our efficiency. By the time we finish phase three, we will have a complete and ongoing picture of the traffic flow between services and clients. We will be better able to manage the scope and flow of our applications and better select security products according to our needs.Anyone who has been in IT for a while understands how quickly equipment, infrastructure, and applications can become outdated. Most of us have inherited solutions that probably worked great when first purchased, but whose effectiveness has lessened over time. Thanks to the incredible flexibility inherent to the software-defined model, Cisco has helped us overhaul our network and continue our operational efficiencies for years to come. When it comes to the future of transportation in Finland, VR Group is definitely on the right track.

Tamimi Markets – Retail

Joel Marquez IT Director

I started here as a programmer in 1993 and am now the Director of IT. The supermarket industry has shifted from on-prem applications to cloud-based solutions, and we had to change with the times.

Our WAN was another challenge. Network traffic from our supermarkets, warehouses, branch offices, and remote users were all routed through our head office via three separate ISPs. The only way we could protect our data was via IPSEC over MPLS (IPVPN) tunnels which slowed connectivity and blocked visibility. We couldn’t tell, for example, if a marketing manager working from home had proper endpoint protection on their computer.

We were also 100% dependent on these three ISPs—who typically didn’t talk to one another—for end-to-end connectivity. If one of them slowed down due to network congestion or went offline due to a system failure, we were at their mercy. Stores and offices that used their infrastructure were cut off from our head office and the rest of our network.

We also suffered from a lack of control over the quality of network services or infrastructure upgrades. When we needed new capacity, we added physical equipment at each of our locations. It was costly and the installation and configuration was all manual. After the extra effort and expense, we still had to contend with limited bandwidth from our ISP partners. Essentially, we were employing band-aid solutions as the demands on our network grew. Our overall IT infrastructure had become obsolete and stretched too thin.

The impact of these deficiencies was huge. Our network was slow, poorly secured, and not very visible. In broad terms, our growth and brand image suffered as customers became frustrated with long checkout lines caused by network delays and waiting for their loyalty points to be recognized. Our out-of-date software and slow network connections were impacting our business and reputation.

We needed to upgrade our IT infrastructure and reflect our new and innovative image by improving both service and the total shopping experience. We also needed an IT infrastructure that could keep up with our aggressive growth plans.

Putting out calls for vendors and went through several proofs of concept. At the end of our selection process, one solution stood out: Cisco Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) including Cisco SD-WAN and Cisco Umbrella.

The outcome…

Cisco SD-WAN allowed us to switch from a traditional network to a software-defined infrastructure. The first and foremost of its benefits is true branch independence through direct internet access. Our stores, warehouses, and offices no longer have to backhaul network traffic through our headquarters to talk to one another, which speeds things up tremendously.

The second advantage is carrier independence. The beauty of an SD-WAN solution is that it frees you to choose whatever public or private infrastructure is most convenient. We are no longer constrained to our three ISPs. We have retooled our setup, and our branches are now connected via a fiber loop. We run broadband on copper (Business DSL) as a backup, 4G for wireless, and eventually 5G. If one of these networks fails, it switches automatically to another. We no longer have to wait for a provider to effect repairs and are assured of connectivity between locations by rerouting it across other infrastructure.

We can also add or change service providers with ease when better options present themselves or if we need more bandwidth. In the past, we had to accept outrageous rate hikes whenever we needed more bandwidth or speed. Now, we are free to shop around and get what we need without adding physical equipment to our network.

Using the Cisco SD-WAN integration with Cisco Umbrella gives us effective cloud security throughout our SD-WAN fabric. We can now see which devices employees are using to connect to Tamimi Markets’ SD-WAN, restrict them to the most secure protocols, and even limit the applications they can use while connected to the network. We’ve never had application visibility like this before. This added security protects our staff from the ever-present threats on the internet.

The secure SD-WAN integration offers the flexibility and security we need to update our IT infrastructure and better serve our customers and employees. I’m a long-time fan of Cisco, and I knew they could deliver the product we needed, but the real difference is their support. With other suppliers, my engineers could spend hours on Google looking for ways to resolve an issue. With Cisco, we open a ticket, and they get back to us in no time. You don’t get that level of service from other technology partners.

Although COVID-19 slowed the planned deployment of our new infrastructure, I’ve already noticed a tremendous improvement in speed, stability, and bandwidth across all our operations utilizing SD-WAN. Like most companies, we’ve had to use video conferencing for many of our meetings during the pandemic. In the past, this meant putting up with severe lags that caused garbled sound and stuttering video. It was impossible to communicate clearly or get anything done.

With Cisco SD-WAN, those days are behind us. Our new infrastructure handles video traffic with ease. It has also improved the customer experience for Tamimi Markets shoppers. Our points of sale have a seamless and fast connection to our customer loyalty database and other cloud-based utilities, thus accelerating the checkout process. Our growing customer base no longer has to wait for access to their loyalty points and paying for their purchases is much faster.

With Cisco SD-WAN and Cisco Umbrella, combining to form a true SASE solution, we have achieved direct-to-internet access which helps us propel inventory management and other processes that put food on our shelves, satisfies our customers, and keeps them coming back to Tamimi Markets with smiles and anticipation of an even more enjoyable shopping experience. Now that’s a competitive advantage!

Written by Emma Meecham Jones
Published on 27th May 2022
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