Network refresh delivers enhanced management and security capabilities at the Royal College of Nursing

Network refresh delivers enhanced management and security capabilities at the Royal College of Nursing

Executive Summary

The world’s largest nursing union and professional body, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) represents over half a million nurses, student nurses, midwives and nursing support workers in the UK and internationally.

In addition to providing trade union support to its members, the RCN also carries out work in relation to nursing standards, education and practice. It campaigns on issues, advises government and other bodies on healthcare policies, and engages in high quality nursing research that aims to transform outcomes for patients.

With branch offices in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and nine English regions, the RCN’s network infrastructure is mission-critical for delivering the seamless and secure connectivity that its 1,500 staff and affiliate workers depend upon daily.

As the voice of nursing the RCN needs to ensure its workforce benefits from a truly resilient and secure network. To meet rapidly evolving workplace needs and future-proof the network for tomorrow’s challenges, the RCN wanted to undertake a major refresh of its network infrastructure.

In addition to reducing its reliance on costly MPLS connections, migrating to a new technology would enable the RCN to centralise network management tasks and optimise network traffic across multiple connections.

The RCN’s IT team asked the Camworth team to help design, build and install a new Meraki-based LAN infrastructure that would simplify networking complexity, boost network reliability, and reduce operational overheads.

The Requirement

Rapidly evolving workplace needs meant the RCN wanted to move to a SD-WAN and LAN platform that would enable it to optimise network resources across its geographically dispersed branch operations.

Featuring robust built-in security features and a centralised cloud-based management system, Cisco Meraki allows administrators to configure, monitor and troubleshoot the network infrastructure from a single pane. RCN would be able to dynamically scale and flex its network architecture to adapt to changing workforce needs in a highly efficient way.

Having taken the decision to transition its existing Cisco WAN and LAN assets to a Cisco-Meraki based SD-WAN and LAN platform, the RCN needed to find knowledgeable and experienced specialist implementation partners to undertake the upgrade rollout to 14 sites and 3 data centres around the UK.

“We had reached a point where our existing network was no longer sustainable in terms of security, reliability and management. The move to a Meraki-based SD-WAN and LAN environment represented a significant technology step change for us and we knew that we needed to work with a highly skilled partner that could handle everything from the design and configuration of the new LAN through to implementation,” says Geoff Lewis, Head of IT Operations at the RCN.

The LAN refresh element of the project needed to be executed seamlessly, and in conjunction with the SD-WAN programme of works, to ensure zero interruption to business-as-usual services for users.

“Camworth came highly recommended to us through trusted channels and working with them proved one of the best decisions we could have made. Their technical expertise, coupled with a deep understanding of our complex operational environment made them the perfect partner for this crucial project,” continues Geoff Lewis.

Having conducted a detailed due diligence review of the RCN’s current environment, Camworth designed a fully configured solution that met all RCN’s unique operational needs.

“Camworth wasn’t just another vendor, they were partners in the truest sense. Guiding us through every step, they ensured we understood all our options and the potential impact of every decision we took,” says Geoff Lewis. “Their proactive and detailed approach at the scoping and design stage was a breath of fresh air, helping us navigate through complex decisions with ease, and advising on and help guiding our entire network implementation project.”

The Solution

  • Migration to Cisco Meraki core/regional switch architecture, incorporating
    SD-WAN mesh ports
  • Professional services – workshops for design clarification and due diligence
  • Design, build and install
  • Co-ordinated Meraki training

The Implementation

A tightly orchestrated implementation plan saw Camworth undertake all pre-site technical builds and testing activities prior to shipment to each site.

To minimise downtime, all on-site changes were scheduled to take place during low-traffic and off-peak periods such as weekends and nights. This ensured each switchover event had minimal impact on users. On completion of each LAN engineering upgrade, Camworth verified all new switches and firmware were working correctly and efficiently.

“The whole changeover was really well planned and executed. Camworth proved extremely accommodating and worked around us rather than imposing their delivery schedule on our team and their attention to detail when it came to checking and testing configurations on our production network was second to none. As a result, downtime and disruption at each site was kept to an absolute minimum,” says Geoff Lewis.

To ensure the RCN’s operations and network teams were fully up to speed and confident with their new Meraki SD-WAN and LAN environments, Camworth delivered a detailed programme of training.

“The comprehensive training provided by Camworth was invaluable. It didn’t just help our team manage the new system; it empowered them to make smarter, more effective decisions daily. This has been transformative in how we manage IT across our sites,” continues Geoff.

Outcomes

The RCN refresh project has delivered improved overall network performance. Each site now has its own dedicated internet breakout and the RCN is able to easily modify traffic policies to ensure service continuity, even when multiple users are engaged in video conferencing or working with other bandwidth intensive applications.

“Since implementing the new Meraki-based infrastructure, we’ve seen remarkable improvements in network reliability and management. Indeed, the ability to manage our network centrally and securely from the cloud has changed how we operate and made us more agile and responsive,” says Geoff

Thanks to the comprehensive training organised by Camworth, the RCN’s network and operations teams are able to take full advantage of all the monitoring and management capabilities they now have at their fingertips. These intuitive controls enable the team to efficiently manage the entire network infrastructure centrally, reducing the burden on IT personnel and giving back time to dedicate to tasks that improve the end-user experience.

“Camworth delivered a truly comprehensive and professional service that encompassed everything from design, deployment and integration, through to switching, security and cloud management. Their deep expertise enabled us to transition with confidence and make the most of our Meraki investment,” concludes Geoff Lewis.

Customer Experience

“It was a pleasure working with the collective Royal College of Nursing team. Engaged, always available, and open to discussion on all of the project delivery options, the highly technical RCN team had a brilliant understanding of the complexities and intricacies that made up their current network environment. This really helped us in the design, configuration, build and implementation of their new Meraki network.”
STUART SPAIN, HEAD OF TECHNICAL AND SERVICE DELIVERY AT CAMWORTH

Camworth wasn’t just another vendor, they were partners in the truest sense. Guiding us through every step, they ensured we understood all our options and the potential impact of every decision we took.

GEOFF LEWIS, HEAD OF IT OPERATIONS, ROYAL COLLEGE OF NURSING

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