Countrywide Healthcare manages Meraki with Highlight

The supplier of medical and janitorial equipment selected managed service that connects to its Cisco Meraki system via a single API

Medical and janitorial equipment supplier Countrywide Healthcare has deployed a service assurance management platform from Highlight to manage the Cisco Meraki network in its new warehouse.

Highlight’s Service Assurance Platform provides real-time insights and historical reporting, which enable the IT team to troubleshoot and optimise network performance for uninterrupted operations.

Since moving to the new premises, Countrywide has expanded to around 300 network clients in its warehouse, with more being added all the time, including internal sales and field salespeople.

With the expansion, Jonathan Price, IT manager at Countrywide Healthcare, said: “When we moved to our current 110,000 ft2 warehouse in 2021, the refurbishment included the installation of a full Meraki network. We chose Meraki because we didn’t need to be experts in Cisco networking, since Meraki is almost plug and play with control from anywhere.”

However, the new setup meant the team needed a greater understanding of how the network was performing. At the same time, the IT team was under pressure due to growth in Countrywide’s online direct to consumers business.

Discussing the challenges, Price said: “We had a couple of incidents where we couldn’t download our web orders. We suspected that we were saturating the bandwidth on our internet connection, but we couldn’t confirm this suspicion.”

He said the team could see the current network state on the Meraki dashboard, but Price said this did not provide access to historical reporting. He added that the team needed to determine if the backup, which ran at 3:00am, was causing the issue: “We simply had no visibility, and it took a considerable effort to find out what was going on. It was quite frustrating.

“We knew we needed to monitor our internet bandwidth, but we also wanted to see the performance of the 40+ Wi-Fi access points installed around the building. And with our warehouse team soon to adopt handheld scanners, we needed to see both real-time performance information as well as trends and patterns.”

Price said that the warehouse team had also complained that the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system was slower on the warehouse floor compared with the upstairs offices: “This link between the main office and the warehouse is critical. If it goes down, is saturated or has any issues, it will have an immediate and tangible impact on the business, so we need to keep a close eye on it.”

This meant that it was necessary for the IT team to check if this was just their perception or if they were saturating the uplink bandwidth between the warehouse and the core connection.

After looking at a number of monitoring tools, Price signed up for a free trial of the managed service from Highlight. “All we had to do was to add our API key to Highlight and it did everything for us,” he explained. “The switches have since been added, and we can now see the vital uplink metric between the main core network and the warehouse.”

According to Price, the Highlight platform delivered an 80% reduction in time to identify network issues and was 71% more cost effective than competing tools.

With the ability to review trends and understand increases in internet usage, Price said Highlight is enabling IT to support Countrywide’s long term business plans, such as expanding the warehouse and increasing headcount, which all impacts the network.

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