Structured provides a powerful boost to a rural electric cooperative by building a simplified, easy-to-manage, enterprise-grade IT infrastructure.
A great irony for many rural power companies is that finding an attentive and responsive IT solution provider can feel like walking alone in the dark. This was the case for an 85-year-old rural electric cooperative serving 8,400 members in the Pacific Northwest. Due to their size and remote location, they struggled to find a responsive, informed partner who took their needs seriously.
And then they approached Structured and finally found some light.
The Switch flips
The customer originally came to Structured in need of a relatively common service: assistance with Veeam licenses. But what started as a singular solution ultimately expanded in scope. After some initial discussion, it quickly became clear that what was needed above all else was a simplified, enterprise-grade IT infrastructure with a long life cycle to help ease management and maintenance burdens and provide reliable service with minimal downtime.
With Structured beside them, the customer finally had the expert guidance and hands-on help they needed to launch a network refresh. And network switches were the place to start.
A Powerful Plan
Structured Senior Network Engineer Jason Boger assumed the role of engineering quarterback, leading scoping discussions and coordinating with other teams and personnel at Structured as needed. The primary selection criteria for the new switch infrastructure included quality, ease-of-use, interoperability, and – of course – cost. As a small critical infrastructure company that must operate with frugality, affordability was an understandably large factor in all purchasing decisions.
Based on these factors, Cisco Meraki was chosen. Meraki met all of the above qualifications, including the fact that Meraki access points (APs) could be added at the next refresh cycle to reduce network complexity and decrease work for the very small IT team. Structured’s strong Cisco partnership also led to very favorable pricing that allowed the co-op to tackle more projects than initially seemed possible.
The Structured team then addressed the customer’s firewall requirements, conducting a thorough assessment of their current policies and making some security enhancements to the VPN settings for remote employees. Once that work wrapped up, the cooperative entered into a managed services agreement with Structured to assume monitoring and management of its existing campus and branch Fortinet FortiGate 100F series and FortiWiFi 60F series next-generation firewalls (NGFWs).
Because security is a 24x7x365 requirement for critical infrastructure companies, regardless of size, the fact that the co-op could outsource this function to a reputable and capable managed services provider like Structured for an affordable price was an easy decision to make.
Next up was the data center. This was an intensive project, with a lot of scoping and mapping required to ensure the best result. Based on factors like manageability, simplicity, interoperability and price, a hyperconverged infrastructure by Nutanix – which integrates easily with Meraki – proved to be the best data center solution. It even came in under budget.
“Collectively, these components provided the customer with a stable, simple and manageable IT environment at an affordable price,” explained Boger. “This infrastructure will let the co-op focus on providing power and broadband internet to its constituents, not on whether an IT outage could crash indispensable public services,” he added.
The co-op’s IT team also received a boost from this new infrastructure and Structured’s caring and attentive partnership. They are more confident in their ability to effectively manage the network, although they also know that informed and responsive help is just an email or phone call away.
In fact, Structured continues to work with this company on projects for multifactor authentication, physical security, and remote communications solutions for their power transmission lines.
Whether large or small, critical infrastructure companies like rural electric cooperatives require stable, manageable and performant IT infrastructures to fulfill their business mission. For this particular rural electric cooperative, they found a powerful partner in Structured.