Reliable Wi-Fi At CML– Cisco Meraki Case Study

Columbus Metropolitan Library HDR Landscape shot

In an ambitious move to bridge the digital divide, Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) has transformed its services, providing free Wi-Fi and online resources across all 23 library branches. Embracing cutting-edge technology, CML switched from a conventional wireless networking system to Cisco Meraki MX security and SD-WAN appliances, coupled with wireless access points, ensuring seamless internet access. Leveraging the FCC’s E-Rate program, CML secured a substantial $8 million in funding, fortifying its mission to serve the community. With 3.8 million visitors in 2022, CML strategically deployed 28 Cisco Meraki MX security and SD-WAN appliances, 118 MS switches, and 237 MR wireless access points, all efficiently managed through a unified Meraki dashboard. This transformation underscores CML’s commitment to providing inclusive and innovative library services.

The Traditional Wi-Fi Challenge Solved by Cisco Meraki Switches

Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) is a cherished institution in the bustling Columbus metropolitan area, catering to over 3.8 million visitors annually. Providing seamless Wi-Fi access across 23 library sites and expansive outdoor spaces posed a significant challenge. Visitors, expecting quality internet service, navigated through high ceilings, multiple floors, and park-like surroundings, requiring secure internet access.

In addition to catering to visitors on their devices and library computers, CML’s IT team managed a secure internal network for staff, crucial for back-office operations. Compliance with regulations like the Children’s Internet Protection Act was essential, necessitating a separate, secure system for the library staff.

Historically, CML relied on traditional wireless systems and LAN controllers housed in a 20-year-old data center. To continue serving the community effectively, CML sought a modern, user-friendly networking solution and decided to overhaul its infrastructure.

Landscape shot of CML

A Modern Networking Solution By Cisco Meraki

CML found the solution in Cisco Meraki and the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, securing $3 million in Category 2-level funding assistance over seven years. The E-Rate program, offering discounts for broadband implementation, including Wi-Fi access, enabled CML to implement a robust solution. Justin Bumbico, CML’s Director of Information Technology, attributed the success to E-Rate program discounts, covering significant costs like the $500,000 cabling for the Main Library.

With support from technology partner CDW-G, CML’s IT team deployed Meraki MX multifunctional security and SD-WAN enterprise appliances. Integrating 28 MX appliances, 40 UPS systems, 114 MS switches, 224 MR wireless access points, and streamlined data cabling, they managed the entire system via a single, intuitive Meraki dashboard.

The MX appliances, featuring advanced security technologies like next-gen firewalls and IDS/IPS, seamlessly integrated with Cisco Umbrella for content filtering and malware protection. CML’s IT team configured precise traffic shaping rules and implemented IDS/IPS protection with ease, ensuring secure internet traffic management and adequate bandwidth allocation for essential applications.

SD-WAN provided CML with flexible traffic routing options, ensuring network resilience. By limiting peer-to-peer traffic with MX appliances, sufficient bandwidth was guaranteed for both visitors and staff. CML effectively managed a complete stack of Meraki products across all locations, enhancing operational efficiency.

Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Cloud Managed Solution

The Meraki solution enabled CML to uphold its commitment to inclusivity, offering free Wi-Fi across library locations and fostering a conducive environment for learning. Providing online services and internet-connected computer use, CML became a hub for education and information.

The Meraki cloud-managed solution seamlessly aligned with CML’s objective of moving away from data center management. Eliminating the need for additional management servers and wireless LAN controllers, the system streamlined operations. Automatic firmware updates via the Meraki platform reduced operational hassles.

Justin Bumbico expressed satisfaction with the user-friendly Cisco Meraki platform, emphasizing its cloud components and integrated management and security features. Nearly every element of the Meraki solution qualified for E-Rate funding, encouraging CML to plan additional projects, confident in the quality and support provided by Meraki.


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