The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the internet is not just a convenient lifestyle enhancement for those who can afford it. Rather, it has become vital for everyday activities. In many cases, it is the only way that business continuity can happen. Work from anywhere is not just a choice anymore—it’s a necessity to protect our health.
Nevertheless, for businesses looking to deploy solutions that enable employees to work from anywhere, it is often a complex process. With multiple users, layers of access, and devices to be rolled out, it can take an experienced IT team several days or weeks to set up an enterprise networking solution. Most of the time, aspects of the network require multiple vendors, further increasing the complexity of the deployment.
In addition, network security is also crucial to enterprise IT operations, especially when data security breaches can potentially cost the company millions in fines, lost business, and negative publicity. While cybersecurity should be a specialised IT discipline, it is becoming more important than ever as commercial data becomes a highly valued commodity.
Out of the box
Realising this, many companies are moving towards upgrading their digital capabilities, yet, it remains a complicated process, especially for inexperienced teams. SMEs in particular lack the capability to deploy a comprehensive, secure, cloud-based platform, as some of them do not maintain a dedicated IT team.
With this in mind, solutions providers like Cisco Meraki provide a cloud-based system and out-of-the-box management, enabling easy configuration and monitoring from a single pane of glass. As a result, businesses can easily deploy cloud-based, remote working solutions in minutes—all without compromising on security.
These solutions are especially suitable for businesses with multiple offices or branches, as the same solution can be used to roll out networking across every branch. Regardless of their location, employees can also connect to the company’s network and/or their email via VPN, enhancing the organisation’s security posture.
Ahead of the ever-changing curve
Meraki also enables IT managers to oversee the company’s network from a simple browser-based interface with quick deployment, unlimited scalability, and remote troubleshooting. Access to the network is defined via software, saving costs on controller hardware to install and maintain. Zero-touch provisioning also allows remote user setup, while issues can be isolated and fixed with remote troubleshooting tools. All these mean that an on-site IT presence is not required.
More importantly than security and ease of deployment, cloud-based solutions like Meraki allow SMEs to scale their IT infrastructure painlessly. As the organisation grows, so too will its IT needs.
With a cloud-based platform and minimal physical hardware to deploy, the Meraki solutions let companies transform with a digital-first model and an eye always open for what’s next.
Using these technologies, co-working space Common Ground achieved its goals of network simplification, rapid deployment, and improved customer experience.
Case study: Common Ground co-working space
Common Ground is a co-working space operator with 20 venues and 5,000 members. The company operates across Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines with the same mission: to build an engaged community and vibrant ecosystem to help ambitious, fast-growing companies take business to the next level.
A key component of that mission is to provide its always-connected members with a fast and reliable connection. “A conducive environment begins with a reliable connection. We had to provide our customers with an always-on network connection with the widest coverage to ensure they do their best work uninterrupted,” explains Yvonne Lee, Country Head, Malaysia.
Common Ground’s goal was to find a solution that reduced network complexity, while being able to track network failures in real time. They also wanted to improve the working experience for today’s connected enterprises by ensuring fast, always-available internet at every single corner of the venue – whether it’s a private office, fixed desk, hot desk, meeting rooms or even common areas.
With Cisco Meraki, Common Ground has managed to reduce their network complexity, virtually eliminating the need to go on-site in case of any issues. The team could also detect hardware or network failures before venue staff or members need to report the issue.
Steven Chong, Chief Technology Officer at Common Ground says, “The key goal on the technology aspect of the business is to ensure that our infrastructure is always stable, reliable, and flexible to keep our members happy and safe on our networks. It’s pretty easy with Meraki. We now only need one person to deploy a network and it can be done remotely within minutes. Prior to Meraki, it used to require a few people to be on site to achieve the same. In the event that an issue does occur, the Meraki dashboard quickly pinpoints the source of the problem and proposes a solution so we can take care of it in minutes—all while the network continues to stay up,” he explains.
Furthermore, the Meraki platform has also allowed the Common Ground team to enhance the user experience for their members. “Meraki provided us flexibility for us to make customisations to adhere to varying IT policies and network settings that our members had. With the number of members that were dealing with sensitive data, we needed to ensure that every one of them were secure by implementing Meraki’s built-in security solutions,” said Lee. Common Ground has also managed to utilise some of the business analytics gathered through the Meraki platform for better capacity and marketing planning.
As a result, Common Ground’s lean IT team can rapidly deploy, manage, and troubleshoot their infrastructure, allowing them to focus more on strategic work and worry less about issues impacting network performance. And as Common Ground increases their footprint across ASEAN, rapid network deployment for new branches becomes critical, ensuring a quicker time to market. Common Ground’s customers can also enjoy a faster, more secure, and more reliable network – while working toward Common Ground’s mission to build an engaged community through connectivity.