Throughout the Pacific Northwest, Shari's distinctive six-sided restaurants are known for providing friendly hospitality, award-winning, homemade pies, and simply great food 24 hours a day. With corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, Shari's has 98 restaurants throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Northern California. At over 4,000 employees, Shari's is the largest full service restaurant chain in the Pacific Northwest.
Network Administrator, Daniel Mullikin has worked in IT at Shari's for 14 years. When he first started, Y2K was commanding headlines and hype. While the Y2K hype quickly faded, the day-to-day challenges in IT have not. Viruses and malware have exploded. APTS and blended threats emerged and increased in sophistication. Compliance mandates have grown teeth. And amidst all these threats and mandates, employees and customers are more demanding in their network wants and bandwidth needs than ever before.
As Mullkin tells it, "IT security is constantly evolving and that is one of WatchGuard's strengths—they're constantly evolving to match the needs."
Today, Shari's day-to-day IT challenges include keeping corporate systems clean, segmented, and protected. "We're always trying to provide that perfect balance of strong security, without impeding businesses processes," assesses Mullkin. "Users need to be able to collaborate and do their work, but without getting breached or infected, or jeopardizing the network's security—because that then impacts everyone else's ability to do work."
Shari's also supports a BYOD policy, letting employees purchase their own device and receive reimbursement for the service. "It can be a headache for IT--having all these Apple, Android, Windows mobile devices and different carriers to support," declares Mullikin. "But I expect BYOD will continue to grow, and users are going to continue to demand more access to cloud-based services."
Another consideration for Shari's IT team is running a secure, segmented guest Wi-Fi network at their restaurants. "We need to ensure that our guests experience good Internet access, but don't get malware through the network," says Mullikin.
Budget and return on investment (ROI) also rank as foremost considerations for Shari's when evaluating IT purchases. "Executives certainly like to have projects with positive ROI numbers and benefits that will continue to expand the value of the company," explains Mullkin. "And, of course, with all the news on various threats, executives want to know we are protected."
Six years back, Mullikin sought a unified solution providing the optimal mix of firewalling with fail-over, and segmented guest Wi-Fi support. "We evaluated SonicWall, ZyXel, and Cisco. WatchGuard had solid industry reviews, so we gave them a try and liked it—and the rest is history," says Mullikin.
"At that time, WatchGuard was one of the few vendors to offer UTM, so we actually started using the UTM [unified threat management] security technologies immediately," recounts Mullikin. WatchGuard's XTM line of UTM solutions provide powerful, multifunction firewalling, seamlessly integrating vital, best-of-breed security services. "From the start, I was just amazed at the bang for the buck with WatchGuard's firewall and UTM capabilities," raves Mullkin. "The ability to have anti-virus, URL filtering, and all those critical capabilities on the edge firewall was a huge deal for us. And, the interface for set-up and streamlined management made the whole transition easy."
Over the years, as network demands surged and increased in complexity, the time arrived to upgrade to WatchGuard's XTM platform.
As a hands-on IT administrator who is always quick to jump on new software and evaluate the potential benefits for Shari's, Mullkin handled the WatchGuard refresh deployment himself. "WatchGuard's central management server makes deployment smooth and easy. Our existing configuration upgraded just fine."
Shari's deployed a high availability (HA) pair of WatchGuard XTM 810s at the headquarters, where it runs a hub and spoke VPN IPSEC setup, and also provides mobile VPN for remote users. At each of its 98 restaurant sites, Shari's deploys WatchGuard XTM 26Ws as edge device, which also provide segmented guest Wi-Fi.
Companywide, Shari's leverages WatchGuard's best-of-breed UTM security services, including Application Control, web URL filtering, AV, IPS and anti-spam, powered by industry-leading vendor technologies, for elite, multilayered protection. "With WatchGuard, you not only get great firewalling, but the integrated security services leverage the best technologies, from leading vendor's, like Commtouch [for anti-spam]. It really assures us that we're getting top-notch security at each layer," remarks Mullikin.
While Shari's handles some HIPAA data, compliance activities primarily revolve around PCI DSS. "As the edge firewall, the XTM appliances play an integral role in compliance and reporting for us," states Mullikin.
"Centralized management with WatchGuard really helps out with PCI compliance," continues Mullikin. "The PCI Auditor likes to see that we have a template through WatchGuard that we can grab and apply to all of our remote access units, with just a couple of clicks needed to re-establish configuration postures. WatchGuard's centralized logging and reporting capabilities really help us stay on top of the network, and we also use the PCI reports they generate."
"WatchGuard's UTM bundle is so beneficial to us," says Mullikin. "The XTM devices have tremendous horsepower to let us do what we need to do, while protecting our networks with application filtering, IPS, web blocking, spam-blocking, https, and more. The capabilities such as guest Wi-Fi segmentation are really valuable to us. And it's all so easy to manage. Seeing the performance and level of protection we get --we are very happy with the investment we made in our WatchGuard deployment."
The XTM devices have tremendous horsepower to let us do what we need to do, while protecting our networks with application filtering, IPS, web blocking, spam-blocking, https, and more... Seeing the performance and level of protection we get—we are very happy with the investment we made in our WatchGuard deployment.
Network Administrator, IT
WatchGuard's centralized logging and reporting capabilities really help us stay on top of the network, and we also use the PCI reports they generate.
Network Administrator, IT