Case Study - SureStore

Self-Storage Company Is Protected on All Fronts with WatchGuard

Challenge

Storage is big business. In total, there is around 49 million sq. ft of self-storage space in the UK alone and the total turnover of the UK industry in 2020 was £766 million, according to the UK Self Storage Association. But as well as growing – even during the pandemic – the industry is also changing and SureStore is one of the companies at the forefront of this transformation to  Generation 4 self-storage.

SureStore, a brand of the Flexiss Group, started trading in 2016 and has been growing rapidly ever since. By the end of 2021, it plans to have 20 sites across the Midlands and the North of England offering self-storage facilities for a range of domestic and commercial purposes. This includes six facilities developed and managed for Legal & General, and currently five stores for Seneca Partners, as preferred development and operational partners to them both in the self-storage market.

Originally, self-storage offered stop gap services, largely around house moving, relocations, births, deaths, marriages and divorces. But with the rise of the gig economy and increase in new small businesses, many trading on Amazon or eBay, for example, SureStore saw a new opportunity to provide managed workspaces and serviced offices, alongside self-storage, all offered on flexible terms.

This means that companies can increase storage for peak periods such as Christmas and can grow and reduce office space as required. SureStore even offers pop-up shops with real shop fronts, creating vibrant commercial hubs. Customers include everything from online retailers and last-mile logistics firms to take-away meal business, nail bars and tattoo parlours. And as the pandemic has created a new working from home culture and driven an increase in self-employed businesses, demand for this new Generation 4 storage is only going one way.

As the self-storage market has evolved, so has the need to provide more advanced and secure IT and Wi-Fi services – both for staff and customers. To manage this, SureStore relies on its trusted IT solutions provider and WatchGuard Gold Partner. With so many different businesses and individuals in one place, security is paramount. The other major challenge is bandwidth management and network separation using VLANs to support staff and customers – from individuals to businesses with 10 to 15 people. SureStore also wanted to make sure that customers can remain connected to their own networks wherever they are in the building – whether that is in the storage unit or office.

Solution

The WatchGuard Trusted Wireless Environment is the ideal solution to meet the needs of SureStore’s dynamic and ever-changing environment. In addition to allowing all customers to roam anywhere on site on their own network, it also means that SureStore can offer tiered options to its standard or premium customers, with unique IDs and different bandwidths, for example.

“The WatchGuard Trusted Wireless Environment framework allows us to deliver Wi-Fi services that offer high performance, scalable management and comprehensive security to protect against every known category of Wi-Fi security threat.” Said Mike Wilson, CEO at SureStore. “For example, the WatchGuard WIPS (Wireless Intrusion Prevention System) technology automatically shuts down possible rogue access points, while nearly eliminating the risk of illegally interfering with neighbouring wireless networks.”

SureStore now works with its architects and designers to make sure Wi-Fi is at the heart of each new facility. The WatchGuard Predictive Wireless Survey tool helps chose the type and number of WatchGuard access points and where to place them for best coverage and bandwidth, while templates make it easy to copy and replicate designs.

Once installed the WatchGuard Cloud management platform comes into its own. All the sites are managed remotely from adding a new customer to deploying updates and troubleshooting. A password for guest access can be changed literally at the click of a button. Everything can be done instantly and it also avoids costly call-out visits.

But it’s not just about Wi-Fi. SureStore relies on fast and secure broadband for its whole operations, from CCTV and access control to its VoIP telephony system, Office 365 and cloud-based operations and finance applications. “The fact is that without a guaranteed Quality of Service we would not be able to run our business – and neither would our customers,” says SureStore’s Mike Wilson. “Our obligation is to protect our customers data as well as their physical assets. We put our trust in the WatchGuard technology and support and it has not let us down.”

SureStore puts its trust in its WatchGuard M370 Firebox devices to protect them from the growing number of threats and malicious attacks that face all businesses – from preventing ransomware to mitigating the risks from phishing attacks targeted at its staff or customers. Many of the features in the WatchGuard Total Security Suite provide SureStore with multiple layers of defence. These include Intrusion Prevention, Application Control, Gateway AV, WebBlocker, Reputation Enabled Defence and APT Blocker.

Results

In addition to its ambitious plan to accelerate the roll out of new facilities, SureStore also wants to harness the full power of its technology, which includes the marketing and analytics capabilities of WatchGuard's secure, cloud-managed Wi-Fi solutions. This includes the ability to add custom splash pages and captive portals to personalise the customer experience and deliver targeted promotions. This could be seasonal deals on storage or products such as packaging, tape, tools and locks. Messages can also be delivered via SMS, MMS and social networks, while data analytics can provide an insight into traffic patterns, movement and behaviour of Wi-Fi users.

"We see WatchGuard playing an important role in the evolution of our Generation 4.0 storage strategy,” says Mike, who was Chairman of the Self Storage Association from 2018-2020. “Reliable security and connectivity are essential, but WatchGuard is also a business enabler, giving us the opportunity to deliver new functionality, levels of service and support to our customers.”