CHIRLA's Transformation with Telecom4Good, The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) has established a legacy of fighting
Posted Thursday, May 25, 2023
Introduction: The Force Behind CHIRLA
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) has established a legacy of fighting for a society where immigrants are treated with dignity and respect. As a community-oriented organization, CHIRLA has shaped attitudes and policies favoring immigrant families, focusing on unrestricted global movement, active democracy, and universal human rights.
CHIRLA's extensive range of initiatives, from establishing the nation's first-day labor center in 1989 to battling against California's Proposition 187 in 1994, demonstrate the breadth and depth of their commitment. Their relentless advocacy and dedication have been instrumental in drafting legal safeguards for undocumented students and workers and promoting fair immigration reform and labor laws.
CHIRLA's mission extends beyond policy-making. Their call center, civic engagement programs, and pioneering initiatives like the Hate Crime Victims Assistance and Advocacy Initiative and the WiseUp! Leadership program reflect their constant evolution to meet the community's needs. Despite challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, CHIRLA has stayed true to its mission, advocating for the inclusion of undocumented immigrants in relief efforts and facilitating COVID relief aid.
Before Cisco Meraki: A Fragmented IT Infrastructure
Before Cisco Meraki's integration, CHIRLA's IT infrastructure was characterized by a diverse mix of devices from Linksys and Netgear. Unfortunately, these devices were unmanaged, creating a fragmented technology infrastructure that was less streamlined and less secure. As CHIRLA expanded its operations, it was increasingly clear that they needed a more robust, unified solution for their IT infrastructure.
Gebriel Dawit, CHIRLA’s Director of IT, identified the need to streamline the management of their disparate branch office networks as one of the most pressing IT challenges. Establishing a robust site-to-site connection was critical to ensure staff could conveniently access servers and databases from various locations, an essential requirement for an expanding organization.
The Motivation to Learn about Cisco Meraki and the Evaluation Process
CHIRLA sought a reliable, scalable, and easy-to-manage solution that could address the growing IT demands of the organization. After considering several brands, including Ubiquiti, Netgear, and Juniper, CHIRLA set its sights on Cisco Meraki.
Cisco Meraki's reputation for delivering dependable and manageable networking solutions caught CHIRLA's attention. The promise of cloud-managed IT operations, improved efficiency, and the positive feedback from other organizations were compelling reasons for CHIRLA to explore what Cisco Meraki could offer.
CHIRLA didn't make this decision lightly. Gebriel explained that they chose Cisco Meraki over other brands due to several key factors. Cisco Meraki's cloud-managed solution offered advanced security features and scalability — vital requirements for an organization on a growth trajectory like CHIRLA. A significant influencing factor was the endorsement from Telecom4Good, a trusted reseller, who not only recommended Cisco Meraki as the best fit for CHIRLA but also assured ongoing support.
Implementing Cisco Meraki: Challenges and Strategy Adjustments
Transitioning to a new IT infrastructure is rarely a straightforward process. CHIRLA experienced this firsthand when implementing Cisco Meraki. A primary challenge was the substantial financial commitment, as Meraki's equipment and implementation costs were higher compared to other market options. Additionally, product availability issues led to installation delays, adding complexity and disruptions to CHIRLA's operational timeline.
Despite these obstacles, CHIRLA held steadfast, understanding that the long-term efficiencies promised by Meraki would outweigh these initial difficulties. As the implementation unfolded, CHIRLA revised its initial plan to utilize a VPN server and have each staff member establish their own client VPN connections. Instead, they chose to leverage Meraki's straightforward site-to-site VPN capabilities, creating a more unified and streamlined approach.
The Impact: Life After Cisco Meraki
With the new system in place, CHIRLA began to see immediate benefits. The cloud-managed solution made it possible to manage their network seamlessly, enhancing security monitoring and connectivity between various branch offices. The system's alert feature facilitated proactive network management, an essential element in maintaining a secure and efficient IT environment.
Gebriel highlighted the simplicity of network management after the Cisco Meraki installation as the most significant change. This ease of use was not just a convenience feature; it had profound implications for their operational efficiency, freeing up time and resources for more mission-critical tasks.
In comparison to previous attempts to address their networking challenges, the Cisco Meraki solution was a resounding success. Gebriel emphasized how the efficiency and effectiveness of the new system were significantly superior, marking a substantial improvement in the organization's IT infrastructure.
Telecom4Good: A Partner for Success
Telecom4Good was instrumental in every stage of CHIRLA's journey with Cisco Meraki. They offered strategic advice on the best equipment to meet CHIRLA's needs and provided competitive discounts to ensure the best value for the investment.
During the installation process, Telecom4Good's support continued, ensuring a smooth and seamless implementation of the Cisco Meraki solution. Their technical expertise was invaluable, helping CHIRLA address any challenges promptly. Post-installation, they continued to be available for ongoing assistance and support, demonstrating their commitment to CHIRLA's success and satisfaction.
Final Thoughts: A Successful Journey and a Way Forward
Reflecting on their journey, Gebriel expressed great satisfaction with the success of the project and the outcomes achieved. Cisco Meraki has proven to be a game-changer for CHIRLA, and the support from Telecom4Good has been invaluable in making the transition a success.
However, he also indicated areas for improvement, specifically the discontinuation of Meraki VoIP phones, which were part of their initial plan. Despite this minor setback, Gebriel remains optimistic about the future, emphasizing the importance of ongoing support, maintenance, and regular updates to maximize the value from Cisco Meraki's robust technology.
For other nonprofits considering a similar transition, Gebriel's advice is clear: Thoroughly evaluate your networking needs and explore Cisco Meraki's comprehensive offerings. With the right ongoing support, like that offered by Telecom4Good, nonprofits can benefit from an optimized networking capability that drives efficiency, scalability, and cost-effectiveness in managing IT infrastructure. This, in turn, enables organizations to focus on their core mission and make a more significant impact in the communities they serve.