Getting Our Wireless Act Together

By Greg Dolphin  |  Posted 2010-06-28 Print this article Print

Dolphin Fast Food’s wireless infrastructure upgrade streamlined costs and operations, while meeting the needs of customers, staff and regulators.

Getting Our Wireless Act Together

Mytech advised us to deploy SonicWALL TZ 190W wireless firewall devices at our distributed locations and a SonicWALL NSA 3500 network security appliance at corporate headquarters. The solution enabled us to consolidate the functionality of the three separate firewalls, controllers and routers at each site into one SonicWALL device, while still providing comprehensive firewall and gateway security services, multiple-SSID wireless connectivity, and site-to-site VPN. We found the user interface easier to use than competitive offerings.

Perhaps most significantly, the solution let us securely, efficiently and cost-effectively segment our public customer WiFi network from our corporate wireless network. Mytech helped us define the standard configuration, so, aside from a few minor issues, the deployment in the restaurants went seamlessly.

The new solution improved our ability to comply with both PCI and Burger King corporate policy. Security has been much tighter, and since the SonicWALL chipsets have integrated 3DES-AES encryption, we can now perform 3DES encryption without diminishing throughput.

We made our wireless networks as secure as our wired networks by encrypting wireless traffic and decontaminating it from malware threats, while protecting the network from wireless vulnerability attacks. Our quarterly self-audits report zero vulnerabilities. What’s more, the system sends our IT team alerts when potential threats show up on the wireless network traffic.

Now, we can apply dedicated authentication and privacy settings while sharing the same physical infrastructure, giving us logical segmentation of our customer and corporate wireless access. Only authorized managers are white-listed to have access through the firewall, and the rest of the world is locked out.

We cut the cost and complexity associated with acquiring, deploying, operating and administering separate multipoint products by consolidating multiple security technologies in one easy-to-administer solution. This greatly simplified the process of supporting WiFi communications at our restaurants. When it comes to outfitting new locations, we expect the up-front acquisition savings to be significant.

Our managers in the field say the solution has increased performance and productivity systemwide. By locking down back-office PCs, we save up to 8 hours a week that we had spent fighting spyware. Our three district managers each estimate saving up to 5 hours a week, and our 19 restaurant managers each estimate saving up to 4 hours a week by using remote video surveillance, remote back-office PC access and remote access to corporate servers, and by enabling IT to remotely support minor issues. The collective time saved equates to more than two full-time employee positions.

Our staff wireless network uses the built-in site-to-site IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) VPN functionality on Sonicwall TZ190W appliances to route most restaurant resources back to the SonicWALL NSA 3500 at our corporate office.

Customers and district managers can depend on reliable service, and our staff likes the ease of using wireless at the restaurants. VPN throughput has increased more than threefold, while providing higher levels of encryption. Between reducing the need for support for the store networking equipment and increasing functionality in supporting corporate on-site servers and staff, we have reduced IT support demands by up to 24 hours a month.

Exploring Broader Business Apps

We are currently exploring broader business applications for our wireless technology to improve customer relations and increase brand loyalty. One possibility is a dynamic redirection of customer Internet users to a guest authentication site that would reassure them of the security of our systems, educate them on appropriate Web use in our restaurants, and present them with special offers or online coupon codes.

We also see a need to use targeted signage and marquees to better promote the benefits of highly secure, reliable WiFi. In 28 percent of our actively tracked implementations, we’ve found that more than half of those using WiFi were return customers. In the future, we intend to compile metrics correlating WiFi use with repeat customer sales to help us measure ROI.

Next spring, we will work with Mytech to deploy a segregated and encrypted wireless network for our POS system. By enabling multiple SSIDs, the system will help us reduce WiFi frequency interference and deliver a more reliable wireless POS network.

The SonicWALL TZ 190Ws can automatically provision SonicPoint wireless access points, which can run using power over Ethernet. We expect this to greatly ease deployment of wireless POS systems in the drive-through areas. With drive-through wireless connectivity, we estimate a 10 percent reduction in the time from when customers order food to when they receive it.

By upgrading and consolidating our wireless technology, we have lowered costs and increased customer service, staff productivity and data security. That’s one bargain I find easy to swallow.

Greg Dolphin is the CEO of Dolphin Holdings. He also serves as the chairman of the National Association Management Group.

Greg Dolphin is the CEO of Dolphin Holdings. He also serves as the chairman of the National Association Management Group.

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