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n2grate Upgrades Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s network faster than planned with zero downtime

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The Customer

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is a global leader in the fight against cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care. Since 1949, LLS has invested nearly $1.3 billion in groundbreaking research, pioneering many of today’s most innovative approaches. Click here to donate to LLS.

The Challenge

LLS has physical locations at over 70 different chapters in the US and Canada, in addition to the national headquarters in Rye Brook, NY. In 2019, LLS faced the challenge many organizations struggle to address; the business was rapidly becoming more digital and the technology supporting the mission had reached the end of its useful life. The infrastructure could no longer keep pace with the increasing demands of employees and volunteers.

“Our network was seriously underperforming, severely impacting staff productivity. Much of the communication infrastructure was over ten years old and lacking in features and functionality. With inadequate speed and network stability, volunteers and employees were unable to effectively video conference. Even simple tasks such as email took longer than needed due to the slow enterprise system response rate. Additionally, the majority of the software applications in use were SaaS-based, further driving the need for reliable, secure internet connectivity,” explained Tom Gardner, Senior Vice President of Information Technology, LLS.

The Solution

“We were referred to n2grate by a business colleague and they demonstrated the technical expertise and network focus we required, including experience with the Cisco network topology we had in place. n2grate immediately credentialed themselves and then did a nice job listening to us and understanding our needs,” stated Mr. Gardner.

n2grate first performed a network analysis and presented LLS with detailed findings. The report evaluated the existing infrastructure on a scale of one to ten, and provided visual representations of green, yellow, or red for six metrics such as performance, security, and network management. n2grate outlined the actions required to improve rating, and provided a prioritized list of recommended investments.

“n2grate took the time to confirm their understanding of our needs, which was clearly demonstrated in the assessment and proposal. It was a professional process, consistent with the kind of work that my colleague Andrew and I are used to performing,” said Mr. Gardner.

The Results

n2grate deployed technology that was new to LLS, including:

  • Meraki ethernet switching
  • Meraki routing, firewall and advanced security (IPS, IDS, Content Filtering)
  • Meraki wireless access points
  • Cisco phones and upgrade of the Cisco Call Manager environment
  • Cisco Security solutions including Umbrella, Duo and Firepower

n2grate managed the acquisition and warehousing of the new equipment, including 400 Meraki devices and 2,000 Cisco phones. A full time project manager developed a complex project plan, delineating actions to ensure equipment reached a site just ahead of the implementation date.

Faster Than Planned with Zero Downtime

Initially, the implementation was expected to take six months, but the n2grate and LLS team completed the entire rollout in four months, 33% faster than projected, and with zero business disruptions.

“Les Russell, Managing Director, n2grate, and his team did everything cleanly. There were no issues. For a project of this magnitude, with that kind of timeline to be completed with zero defects and no outages is excellent. It means a lot to have an organization that comes in and does it right,” stated Andrew Struzik, Sr. Director, IT Operations & Cybersecurity, LLS.

Facilitated More Productivity and Improved Collaboration

“The Meraki deployment was finalized in January 2020, and our teams saw immediate benefits. Right off the top, for the first time ever, we had true wireless capabilities, so now people could be mobile within the workspace, and gather in a conference room to collaborate. Not only did it mitigate the problems, but it facilitated much more productivity in a higher quality way of connecting within the office space,” explained Mr. Gardner.

Easier to Manage

The new equipment is also easier for LLS to manage. Meraki is a cloud-based solution which empowers the organization with a single pane of glass to manage the infrastructure, including a web dashboard for configurations, as well as monitoring, reporting, and alerts. The LLS remote offices lack technology staff, making Meraki a perfect fit due to centralized configuration.

Additionally, because LLS standardized on Cisco and Meraki technology, they were able to use Cisco Capital to distribute the investment over time.

Excellent Support, Going to Bat for LLS

“n2grate has a lot of technical depth and they know what they’re doing. They’re great engineers and great projects managers. Les, as our overall client executive, is particularly great to work with. He pays attention to the details and is a good listener. Whenever we encountered an unforeseen technical issue, n2grate went to bat for us and assisted with finding a solution. Leveraging their experience, they were able to have the right level conversation with the vendor to readily solve problems. n2grate is very supportive. They take responsibility and you don’t have to push them to do so.”

“n2grate has been a good partner and worked well with us to provide a solution that makes sense for LLS. They came in ahead of an already very aggressive schedule. To restructure a domestic network with 75 offices with zero defects was quite a feat,” concluded Mr. Struzik.

 

About n2grate

n2grate is a data center and cloud integration company which focuses on hardware, software, training, professional and cloud services for public sector and large business clients. Founded in 2010, n2grate is a HUBZone Small Business certified by the SBA.

Our robust portfolio of end-to-end solutions is optimized for adaptability and cost savings, ensuring you get the most out of your technology investments with a network and infrastructure that positions you for peak performance.

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