Firewall Elimination: Universal Mental Health Services Case Study

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With 13 locations and 900 employees, Universal Mental Health Services made the inevitable decision to eliminate their branch firewalls with Cato Networks.


Universal Mental Health Services (UMHS) is dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse in achieving their full potential to live, work and grow in the community.

The organization is a comprehensive community human service organization based in North Carolina that strives to provide integrated and quality services to its clients. UMHS is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International.


UMHS network was originally designed to have all 12 branches connected via MPLS and backhauling to a primary datacenter with one central firewall. However, after the process began, UMHS realized that MPLS was too expensive to deploy in all locations. Additionally, some locations were outside of the MPLS provider’s service area. This then forced the organization to connect 5 branches via SonicWALL Firewalls with site-to site VPN’s. This resulted in a mesh of two network architectures that was more complex to run and manage.

Running this environment proved to be challenging, especially due to the burdens of updating the hardware and maintaining firewall software. It was labor intensive and updates didn’t always go smoothly. “Specifically I remember updating the firmware on some devices that caused us to lose connectivity. This created a disruption in our record keeping as our branches send key reports directly to our headquarters. Employees generally scan records using copiers, and those records are then stored directly into the appropriate folder at corporate. Additionally, because we deal with sensitive issues like abuse and drug use, employees need free access to internet resources. Policy management was difficult because SonicWALL does not offer agile options to balance the blocking of banned websites while still providing access to necessary information”.

Download the complete case study to see how UMHS achieved their Firewall elimination goal

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