- Connecting international locations
- Heterogeneous IT infrastructure
- Employees must manually connect to the company network
- Time-consuming guest registration process
- Globally networked locations
- Uniform standards
- Global, centralized guest management
- Application control
- Improved workflows
- WLAN is more secure and available
- Saves time and reduces workload for IT
Aerohive Networks ID Manager provides self-service mobility and guest registration
SMARTRAC is the world’s leading supplier of RFID technology. Its solutions connect real objects with the digital world so they can be identified, authenticated and located. Its wide range of solutions includes automotive applications, automated and contactless payment systems, library and media management, retail, production, border control, logistics, public transportation, product identification, animal tagging, access control and many more. Research & development, production and sales are part of a global network. SMARTRAC’s solutions combine hardware-based products with innovative software to make the internet of things a reality.
Background and Challenges
SMARTRAC, the market leader in RFID solutions, has approximately 3,600 employees at numerous locations around the world, including Germany, Thailand, the United States, Finland and Malaysia. The company’s LAN/WLAN infrastructure was outdated and sourced from multiple manufacturers. This is why the IT center in Stuttgart was tasked with identifying a new solution and installing it at the various locations. One challenge was making the new infrastructure flexible enough to link different sites using standardized technology. The goal was to enable all office staff to access the company’s international network. This means having the same WLAN conditions at all locations while also offering a uniformly high level of security and legal compliance.
The company also needed to address the questions of how to provide guests and customers with easy WLAN access without increasing the workload for the IT staff. In the past, IT had to authenticate each company guest individually using a time-consuming manual process for them to access the network.
Solutions and Achievements
Easier network management, improved availability and functionality.
SMARTRAC chose Aerohive because it offered high levels of stability, availability, flexibility and scalability. Instead of using a central hardware controller, Aerohive’s Cooperative Control technology groups multiple access points (APs) into subunits called “hives,” and uses shared control information to enable functions such as fast layer 2/3 roaming, shared RF administration, security management and mesh networks.
IT staff in Stuttgart use Aerohive’s on-premise HiveManager network administration system to manage the new infrastructure, configure and monitor access points and switches, create guidelines and upload firmware upgrades. Stefan Rickert, Associate Manager Corporate IT Infrastructure at SMARTRAC, especially likes being able to manage worldwide access points centrally from Germany. “HiveManager is stable, user-friendly and intuitive. It’s working really well for us,” he says.
The system also incorporates features such as spectrum analysis, which identifies and deals with potential WLAN interference. IT administrators can upload building or site plans to HiveManager, use the analysis function to assess HF propagation and attenuation and other parameters, and decide how many access points are required for a particular site. “I didn’t expect such a wide range of functions,” says Stefan Rickert. “It’s made our job easier starting at the planning phase.”
The applications filter is another very useful feature that limits or blocks the functionality of individual apps. “This is a particularly important function, and in my experience other manufacturers’ products have been more complicated to configure,” Rickert says. For example, if an employee is not allowed to use personal devices to upload company data to Dropbox, browse file sharing sites or use bandwidth-intensive apps such as iTunes, the filter will limit or block these applications. It can also prioritize important or business-critical apps. “Unlike other manufacturers that anchor this function to the central control unit, Aerohive shifts this to the access points. This is particularly useful for our system because it filters data locally at the access point before entering the network.”
Self-service mobility and guest registration
In the past, SMARTRAC employees had to request new access data each time they visited a different location, or use an Ethernet connection. The new solution provides them with automatic, secure and profile-based wireless access to the network from any site, granting them access to the same resources they would have at the head office. This process, known as self-service mobility, has greatly reduced the number of helpdesk calls, and thus the IT department’s workload.
This was possible thanks to the Aerohive ID Manager, an enterprise cloud system that makes it easier to access the network from personal devices. Employees can obtain approval for their devices from anywhere in the world via the ID Manager’s web-based self-service registration portal or iOS and HTML5 apps. ID Manager also handles guest registration. Guests connect to SMARTRAC’s open guest WLAN, go through the one-time self-registration process using ID Manager and then enter the email address of their contact person at the company. The system automatically authenticates their request and then provides them access to the network.
Rickert says ID Manager also helps the company comply with national laws. “In Thailand, for example, all guest access and activity must be stored for three months. So if there’s a problem, such as a police investigation, we can check who logged in when and how, and who authorized their access.”
Summary and Outlook
The company now plans to gradually increase the number of access points to improve the system’s performance even more. But ID Manager and the self-service guest registration portal have already saved time and significantly improved productivity for the IT department, freeing them up to spend more time on other important tasks.