Archive for May, 2013

Smarter BYOD Networks with Systems Manager Sentry

Onboarding BYOD or company-owned devices into your MDM platform can be quite a challenge.  But if you’re using a Cisco Meraki wireless network, you’ve got a new and easy method to get those devices up to speed: Systems Manager Sentry. Cisco Meraki wireless access points can now check to see that devices are enrolled in Systems Manager before allowing access to an SSID and direct a user to self-enroll before accessing the network. Systems Manager is our 100% free tool for mobile device management that doesn’t require any other Cisco Meraki networking products, but if are using it along with our wireless gear, you’ll see the benefits of integration.

Without the help of Sentry, administrators would constantly be playing catchup, trying to onboard each new device walking through the door. Systems Manager Sentry can take that burden off of the shoulders of IT administrators and pass it to the end user. To gain WiFi access, end users will need to enroll their devices into Systems Manager, bringing along the access policies and network settings defined by IT, ensuring a secure and reliable network environment. To learn more about the capabilities of Systems Manager, check out the product page.

How it’s configured

Navigate to the Access Control tab of your wireless network in dashboard.  Select an SSID, and select Systems Manager Sentry from among the splash page options.   As a best practice, we don’t suggest enabling SM Sentry on open Guest SSIDs because you might start monitoring the devices of guests that unwittingly installed Systems Manager in order to gain WiFi access. We’ve turned on Sentry at our office for the “Meraki-BYOD” SSID.

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Configure Systems Manager Sentry on your wireless network through the Access Control settings

How it works

What happens when a user tries to connect to the Meraki-BYOD SSID? The Meraki access point will scan iOS and Android devices for enrollment in Systems Manager. If the device is enrolled, welcome to Meraki-BYOD!  If not, iOS and Android devices will be directed to install the Systems Manager profile. In addition to Systems Manager using SSL as a secure communication channel, it uses SCEP to assist in secure installation.

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Devices will be directed to enroll into Systems Manager before joining the network

Users will follow the two-step process and then will receive access to the SSID.  Systems Manager settings will be applied to the end user devices, ensuring important security and access policies are in effect when BYOD devices are on your organization’s network.

 

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You’ve Got Mail! ActiveSync with Systems Manager

email-icon2As many enterprises have gradually— in some cases, grudgingly—adopted BYOD, it is safe to say that email has been the killer app. iOS and Android devices make it incredibly easy to setup an email account with no hassles or calls to the Helpdesk for support.

Perhaps the biggest enabler for this is ActiveSync, the data synchronization application from Microsoft. ActiveSync has been adopted by several mail programs including Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, and a dozen others. One of the nice things about ActiveSync is the ability to seamlessly deliver data to a device without requiring the user to constantly refresh the inbox to check for new mail.

As more and more businesses have adopted the Cisco Meraki Systems Manager MDM platform, we’ve heard from lots of customers who wanted a simple way to configure email settings on mobile devices. Our new ActiveSync feature allows you to securely manage ActiveSync and related settings, like enabling encryption and email formatting.

ActiveSync

Associate an email address with a particular client device in one of two ways: set the owner attribute on the client details page, or add new users on the Owners page located in the Configure section and assign them to any enrolled client device.

users

After a device receives the ActiveSync profile, the user is prompted for the password to complete the setup process. That’s it!

Responsibly Enabling BYOD

Businesses with a BYOD policy or devices issued to employees can leverage this feature to not only configure email on a device, but also just as quickly remove email settings on a device if a device goes missing or an employee leaves the company. If devices need to change hands between users, the ActiveSync profile can be updated without affecting the other data and settings.

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Dan Dorato, CTO at Vector Media uses Systems Manager to manage his company’s BYOD program. After using the ActiveSync feature in deploying a new fleet of iOS devices, he marveled at the simplicity. “Meraki SM makes supporting BYOD in our business a no-brainer,” Dan said. “It’s not only easy to use, but the stuff just works!”

Cisco Meraki Systems Manager is still 100% free and continues to receive regular updates with great new features.

ActiveSync support is currently live in the Meraki dashboard for current Systems Manager customers without going through any updates or installations.

If you haven’t already tried Systems Manager, sign up here and give it a spin!

Guest Ambassadors: Providing Simple and Secure Guest Access

Many of our customers use Cisco Meraki wireless to offer guest-wifi at their locations. The MR wireless access points sport a ton of features making it easy to offer guest access to your network without compromising security. The dashboard offers quite a few options for controlling access to your network including device-based policies, integration with a RADIUS or Active Directory server, SMS authentication, paid access, or requiring enrollment in Systems Manager, our free MDM solution. For organizations that want a more hands-on and individualized approach to guest access, Cisco Meraki wireless also includes the guest ambassador feature.

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Provide temporary usernames and passwords for access to your guest network

Guest ambassadors can see a single page of the dashboard for your network, allowing them to create temporary login credentials for your guest network. Now access to the wireless network can be tightly controlled, but a receptionist or office manager can quickly grant network access to a visitor without danger of changing any network settings.

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Guest ambassadors see only this menu when logged into dashboard. 

Create guest ambassador accounts in dashboard on the Alerts and administration menu of your wireless network:

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Guest ambassador accounts have even more limited access to dashboard than Read-only accounts

You can grant access to your guest WiFi on an individual basis for increased security without increased complexity. The guest ambassador feature is standard on all Cisco Meraki wireless networks—try it today!

 

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New in Dashboard: Cloud-based location analytics

Update: Cisco Meraki Presence is now known as CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences), a comprehensive location analytics and engagement platform ideal for both cloud-managed or on-premise solutions. Click here to learn more.

Yes, there is a whole new page in the dashboard. You may have already heard about Presence, our new cloud-based location analytics and customer engagement solution. I’m going to spend some time diving into one of the most important Presence features, the location analytics dashboard built into the Cisco Meraki wireless LAN and available now to all customers.

We’ve aggregated some pretty cool statistics in order to give you even deeper visibility into what’s happening around your office location, business, or store. As usual, your Meraki wireless APs are going above and beyond passing traffic: they’re now detecting user presence based on probe requests seen from WiFi devices. Your APs can detect wireless devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets—even if they don’t connect to the wireless network—and we bring you this data in customizable graphs right in the dashboard.

Appeal

Appeal measures the number of people passing by an AP vs. those sticking around. The obvious application here is for retailers who would like to see if a store is capturing valuable customers as they walk past storefront windows, but there are many applications. Check out how Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a national chain of cafés, is using Appeal to learn about foot traffic at each store location.

Appeal_over_week

 

We can determine how many visitors vs. passersby were near this Peet’s wireless network and what times they were there. We can even zoom in to a single day to understand what times have the highest traffic in order to optimize our store and business environments.

Appeal_over_day

We can scroll over any point in the graph to gain further insight. In the image above we can see that at 9 o’clock on May 3rd, there were 55 total passersby but 26 of these entered the store.

Engagement

Expanding on the Appeal statistics, we can also measure visit length by using the same WiFi probe requests. In the example below, we can check out the duration of stay at this same Peet’s location. Once again, we can scroll over to learn that last Friday, 48 of our visitors stayed 45 minutes or more, while most other customers had shorter visit periods.

Engagement

 

Engagement statistics can be easily used to dig deeper into retail and enterprise markets, helping retailers capitalize on longer visitor dwell times to increase sales. We have even added the ability to export these statistics for use with your own CRM systems or 3rd party retail analytics tools through the Presence API.

Loyalty

Finally, we can also measure new vs. repeat visitors. In the example below, we can see that most of our visitors are first time visitors, but about half of the customers visit this location once a month, or even daily in some cases.

 

Loyalty

This data is also great for retailers as they work to enhance the customer experience and reward repeat visits.

We are pretty excited about making Presence Analytics available to Meraki customers.  Join us to learn more about these new features at a special webinar on Thursday, May 23rd. Sign up for free. Qualified attendees receive a free Cisco Meraki access point!

 

 

 

Solutions for Your K-12 Networking Challenges

Are you ready for the K-12 deployment season?

Summer months at schools can be the busiest and most hectic months of the year.  The IT team is scrambling to update networks, roll out new technology initiatives, and prepare for the next school year.  We know that K-12 environments have unique challenges, but the Cisco Meraki solution can make networking simpler for schools.

We’ve put together a special webinar series just for our K-12 crowd, featuring an array of customers as well as technical deep dives into our wireless solution.  In our deep dive webinars, we focus specifically on the challenges faced in K-12 school districts, including how to easily support high-density usage, manage thousands of devices, secure your network for different user groups, and more.

Check out how hundreds of schools are making the grade with Cisco Meraki.  Take a look at the schedule for this summer’s K-12 series below, and sign up for a webinar at meraki.cisco.com/k12.

May 15

10am PT

High-Performance Infrastructure at Queensbury UFSD

Bernie Capron, Network Coordinator, supports thousands of devices with a Cisco Meraki network, enjoying deep visibility into users and remote sites

May 16

9am PT

Wireless for K-12: A Technical Deep Dive on Security, Scalability, & More

Demos of RADIUS integration, one-touch provisioning, applying policies by device type & more

May 21

11am PT

Round Table: Exceeding Expectations for 1:1 at Alvin ISD

John Wilds, Network Manager, shares how cloud management supports Alvin’s 1:1 initiative

June 11

11am PT

Wireless for K-12: A Technical Deep Dive on Security, Scalability, & More

Demos of RADIUS integration, one-touch provisioning, applying policies by device type & more

June 18

11am PT

Round Table: Deploying a Scalable Network at Bremerton School District

Steve Bartlett, Director of IT, shares how Bremerton’s cloud-managed network enables educational technology programs for 5000 students

July 2

11am PT

1:1 and BYOD for K12

Best practices for managing mobile devices and solving security and bandwidth challenges

July 9

11am PT

Round Table: Higher Reliability, Lower Cost at Wild Rose Public Schools

Ask Jaymon Lefebvre, Network Architect, about how his Cisco Meraki switch and AP deployment improved network reliability and high-density usage

July 11

11am PT

WiFi Security & Cloud-Managed Switching at Mead School District

An easy-to-manage switch network enables David Willyard, Network Administrator, to support over 5000 client devices in the district

You’ll like this! Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook Login

Update: Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook Login is now part of Cisco Meraki CMX. Learn more about CMX here.

A quick show of hands, please: how many of you are running guest WiFi for your organization? Free WiFi is now available in coffee shops, hotel lobbies, hospital waiting rooms, and retail locations across the country. These days, customers check for — and expect — wireless access.

Cisco Meraki already provides an intuitive, easy-to-configure solution for secure guest WiFi that many customers have deployed. But what if you want to provide a more seamless sign-on experience, or increase brand exposure via your guest access deployment?

Now you can do all of this, thanks to Cisco Meraki Presence, a suite of cloud-based location analytics and engagement features which includes Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook Login.  This feature lets your customers connect to WiFi by checking in on Facebook, using your organization’s Facebook Page as a splash page.

Update: Cisco Meraki Presence is now known as CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences), a comprehensive location analytics and engagement platform ideal for both cloud-managed or on-premise solutions. Click here to learn more.

Why this is awesome

Here are some benefits: first, you get access to aggregate and anonymous demographic data Facebook provides about your Page and on check-ins — statistics like the age and gender of those groups of people connecting. This helps you understand more about your audience, which can help you tailor customer experience and advertisements. For example, what if you’re a coffee shop and discover that the majority of your customers are women in their 30s? Maybe you make some changes to your coffee and food menu, or tune the type of music playing in your shops, or update the content of your Facebook Page to better suit their tastes.

When guests check in on Facebook, a story may post to their News Feed, viewable by their Facebook friends. People can see that their friend visited your location and “like” this story, thereby promoting your organization with virtual word-of-mouth recognition. And if friends of your guest are close by, they now know about your business and may decide to visit as well.

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Facebook News Feed event generated by WiFi with Facebook login.

Finally, you can provide an intuitive, convenient experience for guests trying to access WiFi — a smoother process than having guests ask a barista, lobby clerk, or employee for an access code and typing that into a splash page.

Configure in two clicks

Deploying guest access using WiFi with Facebook login takes two clicks in Cisco Meraki’s dashboard: first elect to use a splash page for guest SSID sign-on, then select “Facebook Wi-Fi” as the method for sign-on.

It’s that simple.

 

Just follow the link in Cisco Meraki’s dashboard to configure your Facebook Page and pair your Cisco Meraki network with your Facebook Page:

 

Available now

We’ve already begun a full-scale, staged release of this feature to our wireless customers, but if you prefer, you can get this new feature today by contacting Cisco Meraki tech support. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for Cisco Meraki updates soon!

 

 

Introducing Presence: Integrated location analytics and engagement

Update: Cisco Meraki Presence is now known as CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences), a comprehensive location analytics and engagement platform ideal for both cloud-managed or on-premise solutions. Click here to learn more.

Working with our customers over the past couple of years, we’ve come to believe that the next leap in networking will be moving beyond speeds and feeds, and building features into the network that enable IT to solve new business problems and engage more deeply with users. We’re excited to announce Presence, a new suite of features that fundamentally expands the role a network can play.

Presence provides insight into mobile behavior across locations, and enables you to enhance your onsite customer experience. Presence includes:

  • Real-time location metrics displayed in the Meraki Dashboard

  • Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook login

  • Presence API, allowing you to integrate real-time location data into your CRM and business systems

  • 3rd party analytics integration

In traditional Meraki style, Presence is included with the Cisco Meraki Wireless LAN at no additional cost. It’s 100% cloud-managed, and requires no additional hardware, software, or configuration complexity. You can try it out on your network today, or read more below:

Location analytics dashboard

The first exciting feature to highlight is our location analytics dashboard. Unlike traditional systems that require dedicated sensors and software, Presence analytics are available out-of-the-box, with no additional cost (batteries included, no assembly required). The Location analytics dashboard displays real-time metrics such as capture rate, median visit length, and visitor repeat rate for mobile devices in proximity to your Meraki access points. The access points collect this information and sync it with Meraki’s cloud, where it’s visually synthesized for you:

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The new location analytics dashboard displays key metrics that measure the appeal, engagement, and loyalty of visitors.

This information can immediately help you make better decisions about how to engage your onsite visitors. For example, a retailer can use this information to gauge how traffic drivers such as in-store promotions, window display changes, or new advertising impact foot traffic to your retail locations, and whether customers are spending more time in your store. If you correlate these data with revenue data, you can notice if any upticks in sales coincide with actions you’ve taken to enhance customer experience.

And it’s not just retailers who benefit. Hotels can easily discover when peak hours are for lobby staff or whether guests spend enough time in the lobby to warrant opening a coffee shop. Other organizations can use the real-time location data to learn, say, whether a new building renovation has increased its utilization. Decisions about WiFi availability, physical security, energy savings, and more will all be better informed.

Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook login

Cisco and Facebook have partnered to let guests log in to WiFi networks with their Facebook account, creating a seamless experience for users, and helping businesses expand their social marketing and engagement. We’re excited that the flexibility and extensibility of Meraki’s cloud architecture enables this technology to reach thousands of network operators for the first time.


Connecting to Philz Coffee’s guest network using WiFi with Facebook login.

With this integration you will have access to Facebook Page insights, which includes aggregate demographic information of the customers checking in (furthering your understanding of who your target customers or visitors are). You’ll also get increased exposure on Facebook with each new check-in. When guests check-in they will land on your Facebook Page, where they can like your Page, and interact with your business. With these new connections you will be able share announcements, content and offers with customers who like your Page.

Configuring and deploying WiFi with Facebook login takes 2 clicks in Meraki’s dashboard: first elect to use a splash page for guest SSID sign-on, and then select “Facebook Wi-Fi” as the method for sign-on. It’s that simple.

Enabling WiFi with Facebook login in the Meraki dashboard.

Presence API

Another exciting feature of the Meraki Presence release is the Presence API, which delivers all the real-time location statistics captured by Meraki APs to your custom-built application — providing unlimited flexibility for you if you have special requirements or would like to parse the data in a custom way. For example, you might combine our Presence and EXCAP APIs to prompt guest WiFi users to enter phone numbers or email addresses to gain access, enabling push notifications to staff when a top customer visits, or the delivery of targeted customer offers.

3rd-party analytics integration

Cisco Meraki now collaborates with best-in-class analytics vendors via our Presence API, allowing raw data collected from our intelligent access points to be parsed by these applications. Our list of integrations is growing, and currently includes:

  • Euclid Analytics

  • Nearbuy Systems

  • WalkBase

  • Nomi

  • Swarm

  • Boldstreet Wireless

  • Purple WiFi

These integrations grant you the utmost flexibility, letting you view our real-time location data in the interface you prefer.

Privacy

We take privacy seriously, and have invested in technologies and policies that provide network operators with new tools while maintaining industry-leading safeguards on privacy. In the spirit of transparency, we have described our Presence technology and the inner workings of the Presence API in great detail in our Presence Analytics white paper. In summary, Meraki collects no personally identifiable information (e.g., we don’t see or store a user’s Facebook credentials). Clients’ MAC addresses, used to construct location analytics dashboards, are hashed and truncated before being stored in Meraki’s cloud so they cannot be associated with an individual device (i.e. there’s no data stored that can show that a given device was at a specific location.) Users can also opt-out of Meraki’s Presence data collection across all Meraki networks; we won’t store MAC addresses — hashed or otherwise — and Presence events will not be passed through the API.

Available now

Current wireless customers can call Meraki tech support now to request Presence functionality immediately, but a full-scale rollout of Presence is currently underway — so keep your eyes open for update notifications. If you would like to test drive Meraki APs in your organization, it’s easy to get your hands on some. 

Join us to learn more about these new features at a special webinar on Thursday, May 23rd. Sign up for free — qualified attendees receive a free Cisco Meraki access point! We’ll also be diving into each of these exciting features in future posts, so stay tuned!

 

Managing Thousands of Mobile Devices at Lamar CISD

With over 10,000 mobile devices throughout the district, Chris Nilsson, Director of Technology Integration at Lamar CISD, joined us to share how he is using Cisco Meraki’s Systems Manager to keep tabs on them.

In addition to general district-purchased devices, thousands of other devices have been gradually introduced into the network.  After completing a course on technology in the learning space, many teachers are given funds to purchase whatever devices they believe will have the greatest impact on their students.  Before implementing Systems Manager, there was little available in the way of tracking how students were using the devices.

From asset management to location information to enforcing restrictions and more, Chris has customized this free tool for the unique needs of his district.

Watch the webinar to see how Chris can now monitor this technology and manage the devices from one online Dashboard.

Infosec 2013 London

IMG_20130425_084939Last week the Meraki team assembled for Infosec, Europe’s number one security event at London’s Earls Court exhibition centre. Attendance was strong in spite of the show competing with some beautiful spring weather—always something to savour in England, especially after the long winter we had this year.

This is always a great show for Meraki, as it tends to draw a broad range of attendees interested in all aspects of data networking and security, making it a perfect environment in which to showcase our portfolio. This year’s show was particularly exciting for the Meraki team as it was the first time we’d attended a major event in Europe as part of the Cisco family. Unsurprisingly, the association with our instantly recognisable new parent company generated much interest and increased traffic to the stand, but the unmistakable look and feel of Meraki was very much still in evidence.

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With demand for our webinars growing all the time, we decided to go ahead and run three during the event. Sounds easy enough, but this required us to find somewhere suitable from where to present. In the end, we successfully presented from the little cupboard (generous description) behind the stand.

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Here you can see Imran, Marketing Manager for Europe, limbering-up to present live from the show. Thankfully we had Meraki traffic shaping tools at our disposal to ensure a good experience for attendees. One webinar attendee even elected to come to the show directly afterwards and discovered there was even more to Meraki features than he’d expected.

As for the technology itself, interest from stand visitors spanned our whole portfolio, but the new features we recently announced, targeted at the education market, took centre stage. As usual, we delivered countless demos of our portfolio on our big-screen iMacs, including the new enhanced content filtering and group policies on our range of Security Appliances. One of the newest features, web caching, got good feedback, with one ISP particularly excited at its potential in areas of the world where bandwidth is severely limited and invariably expensive.

All in all, a great success for Cisco Meraki and we’re already looking forward to spreading the word at more events in Europe and the rest of the world. You can keep up with where we’ll be heading next at meraki.com/events. We look forward to meeting you!

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