Seventeen years ago, Ralph Flynn was ready to retire after successful careers in engineering and marketing. Yet he wanted to do something he enjoyed, and so went back to his college days, when he managed a coffeehouse in Boston. He started the Coffee Society in California in 1989, and the idea of retirement has long since faded away. He has built an establishment that has become the "in" place to have a cup of joe, a place to see and be seen. People are encouraged to come and stay--mingle with others or work at a computer.
"It's really a living room," Flynn says. That would be a 2,400-square-foot living room--a size twice as large as a typical Starbucks. And, to make it particularly attractive for computer users, the coffee house includes free wireless access to its patrons, every time they enter a store.
Acknowledging Wireless Insecurities
Of course, free wireless brings concern for the shop owner that some unscrupulous coffee aficionado will hack into the store's systems. That could do a lot of damage, especially since a substantial amount of the Coffee Society's business is done online.
The business needed the security offered by a dedicated firewall appliance, as well as switching capabilities to connect multiple users and workgroups. Flynn wanted the stores to be connected so he could compare sales and inventory data, for example.