High-performance, cost-effective Aruba Instant APs deliver Wi-Fi that benefits e-tailer’s bottom line
USE CASE: Wired and wireless network infrastructure that provides workers with secure and high-performance mobility regardless if in the office, call center or warehouse facilities.
When the company’s aging Wi-Fi was unable to keep up with modern digital demands, Tom Schumacher realized it was time to find a better solution.
“With business units expanding their reliance on Wi-Fi, our existing infrastructure couldn’t keep up,” says Mr. Schumacher, Network Architect and Security Engineer at the Hubert Company, which operates five locations across the U.S. and Canada. “We needed an advanced, cost-effective and secure solution that could be centrally managed by one person.”
Research and References Led to Aruba Wi-Fi
Although a dedicated Hewlett Packard Enterprise customer for over two decades, Cincinnati-area Hubert was looking to find a best-of-breed Wi-Fi solution. This led to extensive research of infrastructure, service and roadmaps to meet future plans across all facilities.
Our new utility grade Wi-Fi is rock solid. No matter what we need to use it for, it just works.Tom Schumacher, Network Architect and Security Engineer, Hubert Company
“In addition to our corporate employees collaborating seamlessly, as an e-commerce retailer, we also needed to blanket our distribution warehouses with wireless to improve fulfillment efficiency,” Mr. Schumacher says.
Ultimately, Hubert selected a complete Wi-Fi and switching solution from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.
“Aruba listened closely to our needs and then offered us the best combination of capabilities in a simplified and streamlined solution,” Mr. Schumacher says. “The proposed solution came at a cost savings of 25 percent, compared to the leading contender.
Instant APs: Reliable, Resilient and Cost-effective
Hubert decided on a controller-less implementation using Aruba’s Instant Access Points (IAPs), where a single access point serves as the virtual controller for the surrounding units. “We were impressed that the solution was self-healing, says Mr. Schumacher. “If the original virtual controller should go down, a neighboring IAP is smart enough to become the new controller.”
Hubert also evaluated the IAP-based network for carrying voice-quality traffic, concluding it exceeded the quality of service requirements for the company’s planned adoption of a voice over Wi-Fi telephony system.
Additionally, the WLAN could evolve to meet future needs. “If we outgrew the controller-less configuration, we could smoothly transition to a controller-managed set up in the future,” says Mr. Schumacher.
Fast to deploy in the office and warehouse
With the IAPs, Hubert quickly deployed Wi-Fi throughout two Cincinnati-area office buildings and a 500,000 sq. ft. warehouse. “The deployment went completely as expected,” Mr. Schumacher says.
Deployments at Hubert’s Toronto call center and its 135,000 sq. ft. western region distribution center in Reno, Nevada, proved equally straightforward.
“Once we completed the remote installations, we established VPN tunnels back to our headquarters data center using a secure Internet connection,” Mr. Schumacher says. “This keeps our telecommunications costs low and easy to manage.”
For Strong Security and Streamlined Access It’s a ClearPass
For secure network access control Hubert is leveraging ClearPass, which makes the process of layering on strong security a snap.
According to Mr. Schumacher, after setting policies within ClearPass, the tool automatically began identifying devices which allows for policy differentiation. “For instance, ClearPass won’t allow a personal iPhone on our internal network, as we only permit corporate devices to access our internal systems,” he explains.
On the other hand, Hubert’s company-issued laptops connect seamlessly, with ClearPass providing the same experience regardless of an employee’s physical worksite. “This really enhances productivity for the employees who regularly travel between our various locations,” Mr. Schumacher says.
For guests and IoT, ClearPass also has it covered
Hubert also uses ClearPass to offer a separate guest network for visitor, personal and other device types.
“Completely segmenting traffic with ClearPass enables us to securely provide Internet access to any type of guest device,” Mr. Schumacher says.
This also supports Hubert’s IoT strategy by allowing these types of devices to connect to its guest network. Policies can also be created that allow some devices to connect to the internal network if needed.
Dynamic Segmentation adds policy-based access to wired switch ports
Dedicating Ethernet ports to IoT devices that users want to connect has also proven time consuming and hard to manage as more devices are making their way onto the network.
Moving forward, Hubert plans to take advantage of even more ClearPass features, such as the Dynamic Segmentation capability for adding policy-based access across their Ethernet switch ports.
“We look forward to leveraging Dynamic Segmentation to get the most from the Aruba 2930F switches we’ve also deployed,” Mr. Schumacher says. “This can help us improve security while reducing network complexity.”
Managing the Network from Across the Continent
It’s a similar story for Wi-Fi optimization, where AirWave has proven key.
“With AirWave, software updates can be pushed out across the entire network rather than needing to travel to each location,” Mr. Schumacher says.
“We can also drill down to view real-time and historical data for a specific AP at any of our locations,” he adds. “This enables rapid troubleshooting, even when I’m a couple thousand miles away.”
Freedom to focus on business-critical tasks
Overall, Hubert’s Wi-Fi has proven easy to manage and exceptionally reliable, freeing IT to focus on business-critical initiatives.
“With Aruba’s robust and intuitive tools, I’m managing our entire network from a single pane of glass,” says Mr. Schumacher.
“Intelligent infrastructure and management simplicity have given me back time to work on other things,” he adds. “The productivity and work/life balance gains have been tremendous.”
Rock-solid Mobility Benefits the Bottom Line
Today, Hubert’s network supports a wide range of business mobility tools. In its warehouses, Hubert employees rely on Wi-Fi for Zebra handheld barcode scanners, vehicle mounted scanners and mobile printers. “With ruggedized IAPs in our warehouse, we’ve minimized our dependency on wired switch ports,” Mr. Schumacher says.
At office locations, Hubert conference rooms include large-format smart TVs with Chromecast devices for users making calls and delivering presentations on Windows and Android-based devices. Similarly, AppleTVs enable collaboration among those with Apple devices. “Now our users can quickly and more efficiently respond to customer and market demands,” says Mr. Schumacher.
In addition to boosting employee productivity, Hubert’s vendors and suppliers can deliver presentations using their preferred devices, regardless of device type.
Most importantly: It just works
For Mr. Schumacher, a critical benefit of Aruba’s solutions is that they live up to the sales pitch. He adds, “If you follow best practices, like using an authorized Aruba vendor to perform site survey’s and helping with configuring ClearPass and Airwave, your installation should go well.”
“I never get complaints from any of our locations,” he says. “Our Wi-Fi is that rock-solid. No matter what we need to use it for, our wireless just works.”