And the network isn’t just for the diners—Vapiano’s mobile ordering terminals, back offices and the Vapiano app use the internet connection for taking orders and payment via smartphone. A secure and reliable network is non-negotiable. And they have a precise goal when it comes to expansion: Vapiano plans to increase the number of restaurant from more than 200 to 330 by the year 2020—with a very small central IT team.
Cisco Meraki is a vital part of future IT strategies for all restaurants. By the time Vapiano establishes their 330 locations by 2020, the solution will be used in restaurants globally for reliable Wi-Fi.
Jeroen Timmer has been running IT and process management at Vapiano since 2016. When he took on the position, Vapiano already used a network structure, but it couldn’t be centrally managed. Having an overview of the network, when at all possible, was limited, partly due to components from multiple vendors. A full overview was simply not possible—a real challenge for a rapidly growing international company that relied on the stability of its network for the day-to-day running of its restaurant.
All Vapiano restaurants require an online connection and communicate via a central, secure VPN concentrator. To guarantee this, the existing network needed restructuring, Because Vapiano required an infrastructure that would be scalable alongside global growth in all corners of the world, from Australia to Chile. Because Vapiano doesn’t have IT staff in its restaurants, central manageability was another indispensable criteria.
Vapiano is introducing the new network solution in some 100 restaurants in Germany, Austria, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and soon the USA. Two members of Vapiano’s IT team intensively handle all things Cisco Meraki, such as rollouts and troubleshooting. Thanks to the transparency and the solution’s ease of use, virtually the entire team use the Meraki Dashboard in their everyday work.
Today, Vapiano successfully manages a large proportion of its networks centrally, via the Meraki Dashboard. Over the past few months, Meraki has reliably supported business-critical projects such as the rollout of the Vapiano app and the new POS system and is an integral part of Vapiano’s international expansion plans.
Jeroen Timmer sees great benefits for Vapiano’s expansion plans in the simplicity of the Cisco Meraki solution. Compared to other providers, the whole Cisco Meraki range stands out because its universally manageable from the just one platform. Vapiano accordingly decided to order and install test devices for three restaurants. They all worked—and the price was right, too.
The central management platform—the Meraki Dashboard—lets the restaurants easily set up and manage their IT, and for this, Vapiano is using the same integrated stack of Cisco Meraki products in all locations: from wireless access points and security appliances to enterprise mobility management.
Another distinct benefit is the rollout speed. Vapiano works very nearly around the clock. The only time window for installing new IT and carrying out a survey of the WiFi infrastructure is between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. After this period, everything needs to be up and running in order for the tills to work. Not a problem for Meraki—configuration took just a few minutes and setup followed smoothly within the next few hours.
To connect up a new restaurant or expand a current network, Vapiano just had to contact the Bechtle Bonn/Cologne, who will send a technician to take care of set up, and generally Wi-Fi surveying too.
Vapiano can also access a standardised network product portfolio with fixed prices at any time, and the components are delivered within two working days. Configuration settings are already in Meraki Dashboard, so Vapiano simply has to push the setting to the devices. As soon as the new location is plugged in, all settings are automatically obtained from the Dashboard.
Vapiano uses Merkai’s reporting and monitoring tools every day. All networks and VPN locations are easily kept in view with an organisation overview map, showing if all locations are online. The Meraki concentrator provides an overview of whether all VPN connections are stable or if there are any abnormalities or failures. Troubleshooting tools like the integrated cable test for switches mean that issues can be identified early on and solved before they become a problem.
How high are the workloads? Where could changes be made via the cloud? Each Vapiano location has one network for employees and another for the till system, and a third for guests. If Vapiano sees that bandwidth limits have been reached, IT can easily control traffic and prioritise bandwidths for the payment system or stop certain data-intensive applications like video or audio streaming using the Layer-7 firewall.
Mobile end devices used to run the restaurant are managed via Meraki Systems Manager, part of the Dashboard. In order to keep track of who is using which device, Vapiano can upload the employees devices into the Mobile Device Management tool. The visibility the Meraki Dashboard provides is far more than just network management, allowing Vapiano to monitor and maintain the IT of their entire chain of restaurants. Vapiano is currently introducing a new POS system, the commissioning of which will cause high network loads. Because the Dashboard offered a clear overview of how much traffic each device creates, Vapiano was able to optimise their POS software to fit within the data traffic limit of their new system.
Vapiano, the German lifestyle brand, added a new category to system catering in 2002, with their innovative “Fresh Casual Dining“ concept, combining elements of “fast casual” and “casual dining”, letting guests take a central role in their dining experience. From their beginnings in Hamburg, they soon spread around the whole world.
Published on Aug 3, 2018.