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The Power of Search in the Cloud

Search helps make managing large multi-site networks a breeze

One of the beauties of cloud-based network management is the ability to easily manage large networks across multiple physical locations. The dashboard acts as a window onto your complete network, as though all the equipment was right in front of you. By way of an example, one of Cisco Meraki’s customers is a hotel chain operating approximately 10,000 access points, providing coverage to 70,000 hotel rooms across the United States.

Cloud management makes this a cinch so that, thanks to the power of tagging and search, managing 10,000 devices is as easy as managing 10. With the help of a few examples, today’s blog post illustrates how search takes the pain out of locating the ports or devices to be configured or monitored.

Search can be used to locate network infrastructure or client devices, in the latter using attributes like device description, manufacturer, MAC or IP address. In this simple example we’ve identified 33 iPads seen amongst 1,424 clients, identified using device fingerprinting techniques. Notice that you can further refine the search by additionally searching by other details, like operating system and VLAN number.

 

So if the admin wanted to view only the iPads in VLAN 108, they would simply select the VLAN number from the dropdown list and add ‘AND ipad’. Here’s the result:

It’s possible to build refined searches by adding further expressions, so for example a search for (VLAN:”108”) AND ipad OR iphone would display both device types within that VLAN, and adding ‘Michael’ will display that owner’s devices in that VLAN.

Search is even more powerful when used to identify specific network devices, like APs and switches or switch ports. Tags are perhaps the most flexible, enabling the network administrator to logically group devices together, say by wiring closet, floor, or site location. Beyond tags, a number of search terms are available.

Suppose the network admin wanted to search for those APs on the 4th floor of the building using Channel 1 in the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

In the case of LAN switches, there may be many hundreds, or even thousands of ports across an organization, and Cisco Meraki virtual stacking technology makes it possible to configure hundreds of ports at a time, regardless of the switches’ physical locations. Take the case of a new firmware revision to be deployed on all Shoretel VoIP phones in the standard voice VLAN. The search might look like this:

Here the search references an LLDP attribute, the tag ‘voip’ and the VLAN to search for. From here, all 113 ports could have their PoE toggled off and on again to force these phones to reboot and pick up their new firmware from the call server. These 113 phones could be located on sites around the world, thanks to the location agnostic nature of our virtual stacking technology.

These few examples have just scratched the surface of what the search tools can do, but they neatly illustrate the potential for managing huge multi-site networks from wherever the network admin can get an internet connection.

More details on the search tools available can be found in our documentation library, with pages covering MR/Client/Organization Searches and MS Searches.