Westfield operates 19 malls in the United States and strives to create landmark shopping destinations and a great experience for its retail partners and 400 million customers.
Digitization and shifting consumer preferences are creating new challenges for its business model while also opening new opportunities. Palo Alto Networks Prisma SASE helped Westfield adapt quickly to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and is enabling it to keep up with a changing world.
Westfield has always created marquee locations for its customers. Now it needed to provide an enhanced digital experience at its existing brick-and-mortar locations and to build web-based and mobile apps. The goal was to give customers, employees, and retail partners access anytime, anywhere, on any device. The company also needed to make sure its digital offerings made good business sense, either by increasing revenue or saving costs.
“It all started with the business need to act and respond faster,” said Ken Ogami, Senior Vice President & CIO U.S. at Westfield North America. “We moved to the cloud and created our mobile development team to improve connectivity and access within our applications and products.”
Westfield’s ability to rapidly adapt and expand was limited by its legacy systems with a monolithic approach to applications and infrastructure. This created multiple challenges. Legacy networking meant limited bandwidth, making it difficult to execute high-bandwidth operations like streaming live performances from its venues. It also took a long time to develop custom applications. And Westfield needed a solution to secure its network and apps in the cloud.
The business transformation would require a deep updating of its platforms and processes to provide flexible development of new applications and ensure reliable, secure connectivity, enabling Westfield to incorporate technology-as-a-service offerings throughout its operations.
Then Westfield had to unexpectedly adapt to the dramatic changes in retail caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns. It had to ensure employees could continue to work remotely and provide digital tools to allow its customers and retail partners to continue to do business.
There was a need, for example, to create a “Line Pass” app, which would allow customers to join a queue from the safety of their car to enter a particular store in the mall. The app would then send a notification when there was space for the customer to enter the store. Westfield needed to get this done quickly to make it safe and easy for customers to shop at its retail partners.
Meeting these challenges required a shift in Westfield’s approach to IT infrastructure and development and a partner with flexible, mature, and cost-effective networking and security products.
It became clear the company would need a modern cloud-based approach to networking and security to support its shift to the cloud. It decided to adopt a secure access service edge (SASE) solution, which combines networking and security technologies into a single, cloud-delivered service model. This would enable it to upgrade its wide area network and gain the flexibility of a cloud-based platform. It would also provide tools for securing its network, data, users, and applications.
Westfield wanted a single-vendor solution to ensure smooth interoperability between different components and provide unified analytics for better visibility into network operations and security.
Westfield submitted a request for proposal to a number of industry leaders. After considering the pros and cons of each platform, it quickly determined that Palo Alto Networks Prisma SASE—which combines Prisma Access and Prisma SD WAN—was the best match. Prisma SASE was the most mature offering and provided the best features integration. It provided reliable and flexible networking services and a robust cloud-based security model while delivering excellent return on investment.
“The business needs come first,” Ogami said. “Digital transformation comes with a lot of security concerns. Prisma SASE from Palo Alto Networks provides safeguards that protect us against a wide range of threats.”
Westfield had extensive support from Palo Alto Networks and its reseller, GlassBox Technology, to ensure the deployment went smoothly and its employees received training and support to benefit from the product fully. With Prisma SASE, Westfield was able to streamline application development and business processes, strengthen security, and improve the user experience for employees, retail partners, and customers.
The Line Pass app would have taken months to develop under Westfield’s legacy architecture. Prisma SASE and the new network architecture enabled the company to deploy the app quickly with confidence that Prisma Access would keep its customers and systems secure.
Consolidating security and SD-WAN with Prisma SASE, Westfield reduced its overall network operating costs by 60 percent while significantly improving performance.
By moving away from the earlier monolithic architecture to an API-based cloud architecture and implementing a more agile application development model, Westfield gained the necessary agility to respond rapidly to customer needs and improve customer engagement. It was also able to adapt quickly to the challenges of the pandemic.
Moving to the cloud helped the company streamline its development processes, greatly reducing the time to market for new products and applications. “Our own development team, our own network, and our own APIs—this allowed us to do new things that the business could never have done before,” Ogami said.
Prisma SD-WAN enabled Westfield to scale up and down based on bandwidth needs. In addition to making ordinary business operations run smoother, this also made it easier to connect with customers in new ways. For example, scalable bandwidth provided an enhanced experience for customers who wanted to stream live performances by artists at Westfield malls.
As Westfield rapidly expanded its digital offerings, first to improve engagement and then to respond to the pandemic, it needed to ensure its systems were secure. With Prisma Access, Westfield’s Security team could aggregate all system data and analytics in one place. This single pane of glass greatly improved visibility of network operations, enhancing security while streamlining administrative tasks. According to Ogami, “Prisma SASE with Zero Trust gave us the ability to secure our users regardless of their status, what device they’re using, or where they’re working from.”
This helped give confidence that Westfield’s digital directories, captive WiFi portals, Bluetooth beacons, and other digital technologies were protected against threat actors attempting to infiltrate the system. It also made it easier to rapidly deploy new tools like Line Pass with confidence they would be secure.
Moving to a cloud-based model made it easier for Westfield’s employees, customers, and retail partners to connect and engage anytime, anywhere, and from any device. This was valuable for streamlining business operations and increasing customer satisfaction. It was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote work was easier with the accessibility of a cloud-based architecture. Enhanced digital offerings also made it easier for customers to engage with Westfield and its retail partners during the shutdown.
“The Autonomous Digital Experience console gave us visibility our Service Desk never had,” according to Ogami. “This improved our ability to resolve issues and support our people much faster. Our employees are remote and traveling worldwide, and now our support team can identify and fix problems they couldn’t fix before.”
Natively integrated into Prisma SASE, Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM) empowers Westfield’s IT team to deliver exceptional user experience and optimal productivity. It provides rich multi-domain analysis across endpoint devices, synthetic tests, and real-user traffic insights to immediately uncover the root cause of experience issues without installing any additional software or hardware.
By deploying Prisma SASE, Westfield could seamlessly integrate its technology and business operations while significantly reducing costs. With improved connectivity and a robust cloud-based security model, Westfield has improved employee productivity, increased engagement with its customers, and provided its retail partners a better environment to do business in. The networking features of Prisma SD-WAN allow Westfield to improve offerings at retail locations. And the flexibility of cloud development enables it to respond more quickly to changing business needs, while Prisma Access provides robust security across all applications.
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