As an original design and manufacturing (ODM) organization, the Kolmar Group based in Seoul, South Korea, is guided by four management philosophies – (1) Human, focusing on training and upskilling each employee; (2) Technology, investing in the most effective technology; (3) Value, creating the most value for its customers; and (4) Responsibility, holding each of its divisions accountable for their performance.

These philosophies are at the heart of Kolmar’s success. It needs to constantly innovate to stay relevant in the growing but highly competitive cosmetics industry where consumers’ tastes shift relentlessly.

With a growing workforce and an explosion of mobile devices in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, Kolmar found that it had to reinvent its IT functions to boost innovation and effectively manage growth.


Kolmar Korea

Industry: Pharmaceuticals   Region: South Korea




  • Manual, time-consuming, and error-prone configs for ACLs and firewalls
  • Ad-hoc network expansion to handle employee and wireless devices growth
  • Separate administrative teams for network services management
  • Employee adds, moves, and other changes done instantly
  • Policy enactments reduced from 3 days of planning and implementation to minutes
  • Common management platform reduces IP phone admin overhead from 7 to 2 days per month


Kolmar’s IT needed to adopt a new strategy as they faced several challenges. The unbridled growth in Kolmar’s business units had resulted in ad-hoc deployment of network devices without a central usage policy or control. Being an ODM and working on projects for clients who competed amongst themselves, it was necessary to protect intellectual property of each of the clients. Ensuring reliable service to all those mobile devices was proving to be an intractable problem, too.

Howon Lee, IT Senior Manager, decided that the status quo was not acceptable. To improve the current situation and lay the foundation for future growth, he led Kolmar to Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) with Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) and Cisco DNA Assurance solutions.

“Before working with Cisco, we had several challenges – fragmented IT, lack of a long-term roadmap, several different management tools, and wireless roaming issues. After the Cisco SD-Access deployment, Kolmar’s campus has become an amazing IT innovation place with seamless L2 roaming, comprehensive policy & full IP mobility. With Cisco DNA Assurance, we save time, cost, and deliver powerful insights to the field – all with a lean IT team.”
~Howon Lee, IT Senior Manager, Kolmar Korea

Security that’s more than a make-over

The first thing on Mr. Lee’s agenda was to group workers by their roles and define access policies for them. He created a group for each of Kolmar’s customers and assigned employees working on those projects into the appropriate group. Cisco SD-Access then segmented the network such that any interaction between these groups and among the members of each group happened as per the defined policies only.

By this simple process, not only was he able to bring harmony into the network but also safeguarded confidential data for each of the customers by limiting access to that information. All manual and error-prone access control list (ACL) configurations in campus switches and firewalls were done away with.

Simple is beautiful

Mr. Lee explained how he was able to use Cisco DNA’s network automation capability to speed up the process they used for change management. The original four-step process for change involved submitting an IT service request to the IT team, checking IP and MAC addresses, identifying the employee’s new role, and then reconfiguring all network devices manually. With the automation in Cisco DNA, all they need to do when a new employee joins or an existing employee is reassigned is to place them in the right group, and the network automatically reconfigures and establishes their appropriate access rights. Since the conversion to Cisco DNA, any user moves, adds, changes, etc., are now done in minutes instead of taking a day or more.

Wireless shines

Cisco Catalyst 9000 series of switches, and wireless LAN access points and controllers were particularly helpful in bringing order to the rapid increase in user devices. To ensure a rich user experience, Cisco DNA Assurance, with the use of Cisco AI Network Analytics, collects telemetry data, monitors the performance of all network devices, flags any issues that it detects, and offers remediation steps. Cisco DNA Assurance was also able to address the challenge posed by the growing number of mobile devices at Kolmar by proactively monitoring each device’s connectivity – the signal strength, throughput, onboarding times, etc. – to make certain that each received the best quality of network service.

Foundation for growth

The Cisco DNA Advantage license for Wireless and for Switching subscription offerings play a crucial role in Kolmar’s IT resurgence. Cisco DNA subscriptions enable a software-delivered approach to automate and assure services independent of hardware and easy license portability for flexibility. And by virtue of selecting Cisco software subscriptions, Kolmar is entitled to deploy the latest innovations and any new capabilities developed within Cisco’s intent-based networking framework, both now and in the future.

Mr. Lee explained how Cisco DNA removed encumbrances from their growth, “We now have a foundation on which we can grow. We use Cisco DNA Center as the controller platform for all our networking functions. Its policy, segmentation, device onboarding, software image management, security, and performance monitoring capabilities give us the confidence to take on new projects with talented engineers, boost our R&D efforts, and ultimately serve our customers better.”

All decked out

Cisco DNA technology helps Mr. Lee fulfill all of Kolmar’s operating philosophies. IT staff learned new skills, are now free from daily maintenance concerns, and can spend more time in business innovation and planning. By investing in the most effective technology, Kolmar increases the value it provides to its customers by more effectively securing their intellectual property and allowing the development teams more flexibility.

The results support Mr. Lee’s vision. “With Cisco DNA, configuration updates that required 3 days of planning and execution are now done within minutes, and policy changes happen essentially in an instant.”, said Mr. Lee.

Cisco DNA Center provides Kolmar a single source of truth for all network inventory, management, troubleshooting and operations. This helps to bring together their fragmented IT teams.  Cisco DNA Assurance uses machine learning to view where the largest gaps in network and application performance are, so that their CapEx spend can be more closely aligned with real business requirements. This helps them create a long-term roadmap where IT provides the tools for business success.

Learn more about Cisco DNA and associated solutions



Vivek Bhargava

Product Marketing Manager