Case Study: Vital Energi

Softcat keep Vital Energi covered with Cisco Umbrella

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Headquartered in the UK city of Blackburn, with offices in Scotland and London, Vital Energi designs, builds, operates and maintains sustainable and renewable methods of energy generation, distribution and management. Part of the company’s offering is to analyse energy consumption data with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and energy bills for their customers. Their projects are wide ranging, from the installation, repair and operation of district heating and cooling networks to smart heat metering and billing, and ESCO (Energy Services Company) services.

420 users 

Award winning energy company 

Cisco Umbrella solution 

The Challenge

Due to modern security threats and high-profile security attacks, Vital Energi (Vital) were looking for a new security product to fill a gap in their security stack. Their existing security products had limited ability when it came to blocking newly released web threats and were not sufficient to keep devices in the field secure. As a company with 160 field workers, it was of crucial importance to Vital that the new product worked equally well for both office and field based staff. To this end, Vital also needed to ensure their corporate policies were being adhered to by users on all devices, irrelevant of how they connected to the network.

Vital were experiencing issues trying to centralise their security management systems within the existing system. After looking at various vendor options and reviewing proof of concepts from each, Vital decided to go with the Cisco Umbrella offering proposed by Softcat. 

The Solution

Softcat first proposed Cisco Umbrella after Vital had briefly heard it mentioned at an industry event.

Phil Hargreaves, Vital’s aligned Networking and Security Specialist at Softcat, was able to give a strong insight into the products ability and Softcat’s experience supplying similar solutions to other customers. Based on his knowledge of Vital’s IT requirements as well his understanding of the company as a whole, Phil was confident Cisco Umbrella was the right product for Vital and he could provide information on how the product would work for them. Jon Woan, Group IT Manager at Vital, commented, “Phil was very honest when it came to capabilities of the product in terms of what it could and couldn’t do.”

A demo of the product was delivered followed by a 21 day free trial which allowed Vital to try Cisco Umbrella to ensure it was the right fit for them. Cisco Umbrella offered Vital very competitive pricing as well as strong functionality through its ability to filter new web threats. The product met the functional requirements of Vital through its provision of protection at the DNS layer.

As a DNS layer service, Cisco Umbrella could be implemented in minimal time (less than a day) and its ease of installation meant professional services were not required to get the solution operational. Jon Woan comments that it is a testament to the products ease of use and deployment that minimal support was required from Softcat in this regard. 

The Benefits

All of Vital’s staff are now using Cisco Umbrella on a variety of devices including laptops, desktops and tablets. Vital’s mobile users can access the internet securely without the need for a proxy. A key benefit of this solution is the roaming protection it provides for field based staff meaning Vital no longer need to worry about this gap in their security infrastructure. Cisco Umbrella has provided increased security to Vital by adding an additional layer of security into their system.

The full solution was deployed in as little as 4 hours. There were no issues in the implementation process and the solution has proven itself to scale very well as the needs of the business grow. Jon Woan comments that, “The implementation costs were very affordable and there were no hidden charges.”

The reporting from the application has been excellent and the data from this is shown to the Board of Executives on a monthly basis as proof of the ROI.  The report shows all potential attacks, and as well as justifying the business cost, the analytics provided help Vital form their IT strategy by ensuring all protections and patches are up to date.  

Cisco Umbrella has already stopped a ransomware attack for Vital. The system alerted Vital of the potential threat and then stopped the ransomware before it could penetrate the network. This is a testimony to the ability of the product. 

Why Softcat?

Due to the long-term relationship between Vital and Softcat, it was a clear choice for Vital to approach Softcat for this security requirement. Jordan Burke, Vital’s Softcat Account Manager, has worked with Vital on multiple other networking and security projects. He highlights that Softcat’s internal expertise was a huge factor for Vital when they were looking at partners for this requirement.

Vital knew that Softcat would consider their individual needs to propose the correct product for them. They also knew that Softcat only work with market leading technologies and vendors and so the product proposed would be credible and fit for purpose.

Solution Highlights:

  • No professional services required for the deployment
  • Very competitive price point
  • Reporting and analytics provided make it easy to see the ROI
  • Defends against attacks both on and off the network 
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