Jellis Craig Secures Growing Office Network with WatchGuard

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Jellis Craig, one of Melbourne’s leading property groups, turned to WatchGuard to ensure he could manage his entire infrastructure, allowing its IT team visibility down to the device level in each of the company’s offices.

Established in 1991, Jellis Craig has grown into one of Melbourne’s leading property groups. Operating from 28 offices across Victoria, the company has 750 employees and over 350 sales consultants.

Over the past few years, Jellis Craig has expanded its business through an acquisition strategy. Each office is then supported by centralized operations, marketing and IT departments.

The challenge

As the company’s office network has grown, so too have the challenges Jellis Craig’s IT team faces. Every new office should be fully equipped with effective security measures and robust data links to ensure that business and customer information remains protected at all times.

Christian Marotta, IT Team Leader, Jellis Craig

IT team leader Christian Marotta said his company has been using WatchGuard technology for more than a decade. Previously, the company relied on an aging wide area network (WAN) infrastructure to connect every office to corporate headquarters.

“At the time, I could quickly see that deploying WatchGuard firewalls would allow me to eliminate expensive legacy WAN connections,” he said. “Nowadays we use NBN fiber connections which provide much better performance and data speeds.”

Marotta says the challenge then became finding an effective way to monitor and manage a rapidly growing fleet of devices.

The fleet includes a WatchGuard Firebox M470 appliance at headquarters equipped with WatchGuard Total Security Suite. This provides services including support for content filtering, intrusion prevention, application control, and ransomware protection.

The office network uses a combination of WatchGuard Firebox M270 and M370 appliances, depending on the number of employees at each site. WatchGuard AP325 Wi-Fi access points are also being deployed to provide enhanced wireless LAN coverage in every office.

WatchGuard’s managed services partner, Greenlight, has worked with Jellis Craig for three years, helping with equipment selection and purchasing. The property company was previously a WatchGuard customer, but serviced by reseller Solution Plus Australia, acquired by Greenlight.

“The support from Greenlight has been very helpful,” said Marotta. “His technical knowledge and speed of service are second to none.”

Marotta said that while WatchGuard equipment was working well for the business, the IT team realized they needed a more efficient way to manage it. “With just a small in-house team and nearly 30 different sites to cover, remote monitoring and management was really the only option for us,” he said.

The solution

After considering several options, the Jellis Craig IT team made the decision to deploy the WatchGuard Cloud management platform. This allows the team to manage all Wi-Fi hotspots through a single portal. WatchGuard Fireboxes are currently managed through WatchGuard System Manager.

“Over the next six to 12 months, as the capabilities of WatchGuard Cloud grow, we will look to use it to manage firewalls as well,” Marotta said.

Advantages

With firewalls, access points and management portals in place, Marotta says ongoing management of the entire infrastructure is very simple. Portals allow the team to have visibility down to the device level in each of the offices.

“We can see everything that’s connected to our Wi-Fi networks, what connection speed they’re achieving, and the signal strength,” he said. “If someone calls us to report that their Wi-Fi network is running slowly, we can quickly intervene and determine the cause of the problem.”

Every WatchGuard firewall has a backup 4G dongle in place. This means that in the event of an Internet connection failure or interruption, traffic can be automatically routed through this alternative connection.

“Security is enhanced by the fact that we only have one Microsoft Active Directory instance for the entire company,” Marotta said. “In some offices, nothing is in place except the firewall and some access points. Our VPN connections also make working and accessing head office resources simple, reliable and secure.

Marotta said his internal team continues to undertake deployments of additional WatchGuard devices as needed. Greenlight continues to provide support by supplying the devices and ensuring that the internal team is fully informed of the technical developments in the market.

“They help us decide which products best suit our needs,” he said. “They also help record transactions and ensure we get the best trade and exchange options as WatchGuard devices are upgraded.”

Marotta said he was also impressed with the service provided directly by WatchGuard. He recently had to go through the process of outfitting a new, large, two-level office with Wi-Fi, and WatchGuard assisted in reviewing floor plans and determining the optimal location for each access point.

“Our future plans include setting up a virtual WatchGuard appliance on the AWS cloud platform,” he said. “We plan to move our headquarters infrastructure to the cloud platform as part of our strategy to transition from on-premises equipment.”

Marotta said the company does not expect its growth rate to slow, due to continued strong demand for real estate services. “I believe WatchGuard and Greenlight will continue to be valuable technology partners for Jellis Craig for many years to come.”

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