With more than 6,600 employees at 200 locations in 51 countries, Systemair has a complex and diverse network to manage. SD-WAN-as-a-Service and Cisco Meraki don’t just give them control, flexibility, and cost savings. It has also given IT the resources to focus on more important things than configuring firewalls, routers, and switches around the world.
Outdated and complex IT was a major challenge
Systemair’s biggest challenge before they started building SD-WAN was the management of a complex and sometimes, through acquisitions, outdated network infrastructure. A global collection of networks with many small offices, often located in industrial areas where access to reliable internet solutions was limited. On-site MacGyver solutions such as ADSL connectivity along with a lack of local IT staff made it challenging to manage and maintain the network effectively.
“We needed a solution where we could manage the entire network without plugging in serial cables or setting up VPNs, without the need for trained staff on site.” – Michael Rowland, Head of IT at Systemair
New routines in the IT department
Systemair is a world-leading ventilation company with operations worldwide with offices and production in several countries. Working in IT, located in Sweden and Germany, has been largely about guiding local technicians over the phone or traveling between offices and factories. Michael, IT Manager at Systemair, and his colleagues’ everyday lives have changed a lot since they switched to SD-WAN-as-a-Service with Meraki. Working routines have been streamlined, which has freed up both time and resources for IT. Above all, it has reduced the number of trips.
SD-WAN-as-a-Service solves more than just tangled cables
The transition to SD-WAN started with a proof-of-concept project in England back in 2015. Systemair has several smaller offices in the UK with limited local IT capacity. An ideal environment to explore how SD-WAN and Cisco Meraki could simplify network management and improve connectivity.
The project quickly demonstrated several benefits and effective solutions to the problems IT previously had to deal with on a daily basis:
Simplified network management: With Meraki, the network went from a complex and fragmented infrastructure to a centralized solution. Settings and policies are centrally managed and uniformly applied to all devices. Which makes it easier to maintain and update the network.
Improved connectivity and redundancy: SD-WAN has enabled better connectivity by using different types of internet connections. Instead of expensive MPLS lines, cheaper local internet connections can now be used. This also provides redundancy through failover capabilities.
Increased security and performance: Cisco Meraki also offers enhanced security features. Features such as integrated firewalls and advanced encryption to protect data transmission over the internet. This has increased the security of Systemair’s network without compromising performance.
Scalability and flexibility: Because SD-WAN-as-a-Service is software-based, it’s easy to scale your network up or down as your needs change. This is particularly valuable in an environment where Systemair needs to be able to quickly expand or optimize its global network.
“With Meraki, we can also save money. An MPLS line often costs more than two local internet connections. So, for a lower price, we get higher performance and redundancy.”
More resources for the IT department
The implementation of SD-WAN-as-a-Service has led to significant improvements in the day-to-day life of the IT department. By reducing the need for time-consuming manual tasks and simplifying network management, IT now has time for more business-driven tasks. Meraki has also improved the user experience across the company’s various offices with more stable connectivity.
Safety now comes first
New devices and new networks are now easily connected to Systemair’s network without IT having to pack a bag full of firewalls and switches and go out. A firewall is configured, sent out, and plugged in by someone without IT skills. Meraki takes direct control of the device and connection.
“IT security now comes first. We immediately know what is available in the local network and can see it in the Meraki console. We don’t have to go out for the start-up of a new office. An employee can easily set up the firewall with a little guidance. We don’t need to be there.”
Michael’s advice to others curious about SD-WAN-as-a-Service
Michael’s advice is short and simple. “Do it. The simplicity, overview, and savings should motivate anyone with a complex and dispersed infrastructure to move to SD-WAN-as-a-service.” The Meraki console has given IT full control of networks and licenses. It’s easy to manage and add devices and licenses when needed. Michaels also advises considering the connection speed. The development of connectivity is fast and a device can quickly become obsolete when a local network is upgraded. Select hardware specifications according to what you need, not according to the connection that exists.
“Find a good partner and supplier. Choosing the right SD-WAN provider is important. Find a partner who not only provides the technology but also offers good support and consultation during the transition process.”
So, what was the outcome?
Systemair now has a network with fewer interruptions thanks to better management and firmware updates. It’s now easier to integrate new offices and hardware. Michael and his colleagues only need to schedule, pre-install, test, dispatch, and automate. And Systemair now has improved security as the entire network is controlled centrally. If there’s a critical update, Michael can get it out on the entire network within 10 minutes.
“Embracing SD-WAN-as-a-Service was not just a technology shift, but a journey to redefine how we understand and manage our network. It has taught us that innovation is not only about introducing new tools, but also about reshaping our view of problems and solutions. With Cisco Meraki, we have not only achieved a more efficient network infrastructure, but we have also opened the door to new opportunities for Systemair to grow and adapt in an increasingly complex world,” concludes Michael.