PSTG helps Local Council Create ‘Next Gen’ Workspace for Business Start Ups

Summary

  • Fast, secure enterprise strength 100 MB WAN delivers high bandwidth performance users expect
  • High density Wi-Fi access plus hosted voice and managed print services give users a flexible choice of options, whatever their line of work
  • Centralised dashboard makes it easy to create guest networks, portals or specific user accounts and undertake real-time network monitoring
  • 24/7 branded help desk ensures Business Hub users are able to tap into specialist support, the moment they need it

Fully serviced flexible co-working space, featuring free access to superfast internet connectivity, proves a hit with local entrepreneurs

Overview

When Maidstone Borough Council took the decision to launch The Business Terrace, an inspiring new business hub for local start-ups, it knew that dependable and high-speed wireless Internet connectivity would be a must have.

Determined to provide a dynamic, inspiring and highly supportive environment for local entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, the new co-working space would feature starter office units, meeting rooms, informal work areas, plus flexible hot-desking options. Clients would also be able to take advantage of free business advice and guidance services.

With no long term contracts, the Council was determined to ensure clients could easily access the full range of services on offer - including unlimited Wi-Fi, secure Ethernet, printing and meeting rooms - as required.

The challenge

To ensure that Business Terrace users could work seamlessly and securely at all times, the Council wanted to create a brand new wireless network independent of its existing enterprise WAN. This would ensure business-as-usual services could be effectively maintained for both entities without fear of compromise.

To attract innovative companies like hi-tech, creative and media organisations, a high capacity network would be essential. And it needed to be easy for users to sign in and out of services, book meeting rooms, or access crystal clear voice services if required.

Integrating with the Council’s own back-office billing systems, the entire Wi-Fi environment needed to be a doddle to administrate and manage. That meant finding a streamlined way of delivering IT services to users while gaining real-time visibility of network usage and performance. It would also mean offering help desk services to ensure clients could get technical support the moment they needed it.

“We wanted to make it easy for users to book services, streamlining access to all campus amenities so they can grab a desk for as long as they it, reserve a meeting room or instantly tap into secure Wi-Fi Internet connectivity.  The aim was to make it easy for start-ups to work and grow with confidence,” explains Sean Henry, Economic Development Business Centre Co-ordinator at Maidstone Borough Council.

The solution

PSTG was tasked with the design and implementation of a Cisco Meraki solution that would meet the needs of a 21st century co-working space. To address the bandwidth requirements of even the most demanding hi-tech users, the new wired network features Cat 6A cabling plus Ethernet connectivity in the office units together with the option for IP phones.

The solution also features a super-fast 100 MB Wi-Fi network that delivers bullet-proof coverage of the entire facility, complete with switches to ensure maximum access points for users and firewalls to assure a secure working environment for all.

Managed via the cloud, the Meraki dashboard makes it easy to prioritise one kind of network traffic over another, create guest networks, set up portals so people can log in and even set up individual user accounts. The multi-tenanted solution makes it easy to add new companies or individual users fast.

“Meraki requires little or no technical expertise to use – even I can operate it with ease. With the dashboard, it’s easy to see when something is causing a problem and manage wired and wireless devices like printers,” confirms Sean.

Working closely with the Council’s own billing system provider, PSTG was able to create a front end integration to allow the automation of charges for individual Business Terrace – based on the services they’d utilised - direct from Meraki itself.

Finally, to simplify day-to-day management for Sean and his team, PSTG is responsible for centrally supporting the entire facility, including operating a fully Business Terrace branded 24/7 help desk service for users.

Results

Within just six months, the Business Terrace was operating at 80% occupancy as local start-ups flocked to take advantage of the 21st century business services on offer.

“We brought together all the right ingredients to appeal to small modern businesses looking for a cost-effective work space that didn’t compromise on essentials like super-fast and secure Internet connectivity,” continues Sean.

“Indeed, our ability to offer high performance broadband and Wi-Fi proved a compelling proposition for local micro businesses.”

Since opening its doors, the Business Terrace has been home to three of Kent’s ‘Top 30 under 30’ entrepreneurs, two successful Dragon’s Den contestants as well as over 25 other unique start-ups. Today the co-working space is at peak capacity, with around 50 people using the facilities at any one time.

“PSTG have been incredibly helpful in making our vision of providing affordable and flexible services to new businesses become a reality,” says Sean.

“They’re friendly, responsive, and always get the job done. We look forward to our continued relationship as the Business Hub continues to feature open shared workspaces and quieter private offices, together we’ll be able to help even more freelancers and entrepreneurs grow their business.”

Maidstone Borough Council Case Study

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