RetailMeNot Leverages Cisco and Plixer for WLAN Optimization
Founded in 2007, RetailMeNot.com is the largest digital coupon site in the US. They help hundreds of thousands of customers save money when shopping online. They are headquartered in Austin Texas, in the hip “Live Music Capital of the World”. Since the company went public in 2013, the company has doubled the number of employees from 250 to over 500.
In previous blogs, I have covered what is AVC, SuccessEHS and how Plixer’s Scrutinizer accepts Netflow, sFlow and IPFIX exports. This post will cover how these key products are combined by RetailMeNot in their WLAN deployments to optimize and support this fast growing company.
Recently Michael Patterson, the Founder and Product Manager at Plixer, Matthew St. Jean the Marketing Manager at Plixer and I had an opportunity to talk to Tim Tyndall, the Lead Network Engineer at RetailMeNot. Tim shared with us the highlights of the wireless LAN deployment and explained how they use Cisco Application Visibility and Control and Plixer’s Scrutinizer to stay in control of how their WLAN is being utilized.
Tim described the environment and culture that has become a huge part of the company’s success. RetailMeNot provides hip new offices for its employees with open work spaces and other awesome perks.
The Cisco powered wireless network supports this initiative. In fact, nearly all network connectivity is wireless. He said that employees are issued a laptop by the company and many carry in their own smartphones and tablets as well; Most of those devices being from Apple.
Employees can roam freely with reliable service that spans the company’s five floors. Even during large meetings where access density increases dramatically, service continues without any interruptions and the performance metrics they can obtain using NetFlow is exceptional and reinforce that the traffic is optimized.
Located in: Austin Texas
WLAN Deployment across five different floors
Number of Access Point and Model: 25 3602 series APs
Number of Client Devices: Over 550 connected devices at any time including smartphone, tablets and laptops
Number of Wireless LAN Controllers: Two 2504 Series Controllers
Software version: Most recents stable release
Radius Servers for authentication
RetailMeNot has configured three SSIDs:
- The first is an internal one focused on employees and staff – with WPA2 security and radius authentication
- The second is focused on guest or contractors – with PSK security
- Third is for supporting devices that display site statistics and supports PSK security
Application Visibility and Control (AVC) was enabled on both the enterprise as well as the guest SSID. The NBAR2 Deep-Packet Engine embedded on the Wireless Controllers offer classification of thousands of applications which are all exported in NetFlow. Tim exports the flows to Plixer’s Scrutinizer where it is archived and monitored for network threats. Additionally, the Scrutinizer solution provides long-term reports on WLAN usage for troubleshooting, capacity planning and security considerations.
Scrutinizer offers great visibility by providing dozens of reports which for example, allows them to gain insight into:
- How much bandwidth is consumed by iTunes traffic
- What percentage of the traffic is related to email(gmail)
- The top users of numerous software as a service applications
- The volume of guests watching Netflix and the bandwidth consumption it causes. Scrutinizer can even tie the IP addresses to authenticated user names.
In the future, RetailMeNot is considering turning on both AVC and Scrutinizer in their European offices. To gain additional insight, they are evaluating the use of AVC on ISR/ASRs in their remote offices in Europe. This will provide them insight in to the URLs visited, the VoIP Codec being used, retransmitted packets, dropped packets, TCP window size and much more all by exporting IPFIX.
Another innovation from the Cisco WLAN team that RetailMeNot is actively using is the Bonjour Services Gateway. This functionality is used to access company owned Bonjour enabled devices.
What are you waiting for? Cisco’s AVC support on the wireless controllers provides the best performance visibility in the industry with metrics on jitter, packet loss, bytes, etc. and it is all broken down by WLAN SSID, DSCP and several other contextual details. When combined with Plixer’s Scrutinizer, the visibility into wireless traffic is exceptional and it’s all done with NetFlow. Call for an evaluation.