For the past few years, the Meraki marketing team has been running hour-long, informational webinars all week long. When we advertise these live webinars, we really mean LIVE. They are run right here in our San Francisco office (or out of the London office for Europe), in our webinar room. Members of our product marketing, product management, support, and sales teams take turns presenting the webinars, aided by a colleague answering incoming chat questions from the audience.
Live from Meraki Studios, a radio-style webinar with Sean ‘2-wheels’ and Vik ‘2-tall’
The webinars cover a wide range of topics, from Introduction to Cloud Networking, which gives a high level overview of the Meraki solution, to the Mission: Impossible series, which offers a deep dive into a wireless setup with an action-filled storyline. Customers with interesting Meraki stories often co-host webinars with us as well, sharing their unique Meraki experiences. Each webinar features a live demo of the Meraki dashboard, as well as a question and answer session led by the Meraki presenter.
Check out our current webinars at meraki.cisco.com/webinars. First-time attendees may also be eligible to receive a free MR18 Access Point for attending a webinar, a great way to test out Meraki in your own environment at no cost to you.
For our international audience, we have some great news! We have expanded our free AP shipping capabilities. We can now ship to the following countries: US, CA, UK and the rest of the EEA, Croatia, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico.
Hope to see you at a webinar soon! Come chat with us, we’d love to hear your thoughts and answer your questions.
Clint Newell Auto Group in Roseburg, Oregon is truly a one-stop shop for the community’s automotive needs. The group offers competitive pricing on a large inventory of Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC, and Buick cars, while also hosting a service center, collision center, loans and lease department, parts department, and rental services on-site.
With company devices, visiting contractors, customers, and others coming in and out of the auto group, Clint Newell depends on the Cisco Meraki cloud-managed solution to support their robust networking needs. The 3-person IT team is led by Ryan Parker, who will be hosting a live webinar with Meraki next Thursday, May 28th at 11:00 AM PT to divulge more details about their Meraki experience.
A sneak peek into their deployment shows a fleet of Meraki MR34 802.11ac Access Points, MS320 and 220 Switches, MX400 Security Appliances, and Systems Manager mobile device management. Ryan and the IT team went with the Meraki full stack, as they believe that “with Meraki, you’re going to get the visibility, you’re going to get the reliability, you’re going to get a solid product” (Ryan Parker, Clint Newell IT Manager).
The Clint Newell Auto Group in Roseburg, Oregon
The team benefits from Meraki features such as bandwidth throttling for guest WiFi, auto VPN to securely connect their 3 buildings, topology to automatically create intelligent network maps, easy cable testing and troubleshooting, device location tracking, and more. IT is able to remotely configure and push settings to devices, monitor all traffic passing through the network, and proactively identify and solve any issues.
With a reliable network, the sales team can roam the property with their iPads and easily guide customers through virtual showrooms and technical specs for new and used vehicles. Employees and contractors can securely access internal resources from any building within the auto group, and “the devices we have become the devices we need” with regular firmware and feature updates built into the Meraki cloud model.
Register for next week’s webinar to hear the full story and see how Meraki has made network management simple for Clint Newell. A recording of the presentation will also be available on our webinars page after the webinar. Hope to see you there!
Here at Meraki we have been working on Systems Manager to further ease the burden on educators trying to integrate technology into the learning process. With a wealth of powerful features, mobile devices, such as tablets, can significantly enhance the learning process, but this wealth can also come at a cost. Distractions caused by features not relevant to education, can hinder student learning. Teachers skilled in running a classroom must play the role of digital cowboy or cowgirl, corralling errant students and devices.
We’re listening to your concerns and are announcing the release of some new Systems Manager features. These will compliment existing features, and create a comprehensive suite of controls for your classroom; in essence, a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) for your devices!
Pay attention now
Single App Mode forces Apple iOS devices, such as iPads, to display just a single app. When in this special mode, the specified app is the only thing the user of the device can interact with, even the settings menu of the device is unavailable.
With role-based administration, network admins can provide teachers with access to their classroom’s devices, making Single App Mode easy to integrate into the classroom. A teacher can use the intuitive Meraki dashboard to find a device, view its details, and then lock it to the desired application. Whatever the student is doing at the time will be replaced with the app chosen by the teacher, focusing classroom activity on one task and preventing distractions.
Teachers can easily select an app of their choice from a drop down menu listing the available apps on that device. A great way to stop the class from using the devices, and command attention to ‘bring eyes up front’, is to lock the devices to the Meraki MDM app, preventing it’s further use. When free use of the device is allowed, the device can be easily released by clicking the ‘Disable Lock’ button.
All together now
Having this level of control per iOS device is great, but what about a whole classroom? Systems Manager has this covered with the ability to command devices in bulk. A teacher can easily select the iPad, or other iOS devices they want to lock to an app by using the instant search box. For example, it only takes a couple of clicks to select all 3rd Graders iPads and lock them on to a single app.
With the power of instant search, any teacher can precisely choose the devices they want to control; however in large deployments, selecting the wrong set of devices is a possibility. This is where the new Limited Access Roles in the Systems Manager dashboard come into play. School IT staff can prevent mistakes and simplify the educator’s experience by defining roles relevant to their needs.
At a high level, a teacher is unlikely to manage Apple MDM certificates in the Meraki Dashboard. They are more likely to want to control the specific classes of iPads, leaving the advanced options to administrators. Using Meraki’s tagging concept, teaching staff can be assigned the groups of devices they will work with.
Tags can be updated dynamically, for example by time. This allows for teachers to be given control of different sets of devices depending on their schedule. Time is only one of the many dynamic tags available in Systems Manager, with others such as location, or the owner also being available. Further information is available here
Show and tell
AirPlay is great for allowing teachers to easily display their screens to the whole class, but what about students? This ease of use can become a problem without control. How do you prevent students from taking control of unsecured AppleTV devices? Securing them with a password provides access control but has other problems. How do you allow students to use AirPlay when you want, but prevent access when you don’t?
AirPlay settings can be pre-provisioned in Systems Manager so that student iOS devices have all the settings ready to use, including password.
This prevents students being given the password, while making the teacher’s life easier as all the settings are ready to use on the class devices, not just their own. They can select the student’s device they wish display, choose their classroom from the drop down, and click AirPlay.
Combining this functionality with app lock allows a teacher to have the whole class focused on their fellow student’s screen, not distracted by their own.
You will need this
Some of us here in the Meraki office remember carrying heavy bags laden with books. Worse, we remember getting in trouble for having left one behind! Fortunately students today are looked after by Systems Manager with the Backpack feature.
Backpack can automatically download files and content to devices, storing it for use. Not only does digital content delivery take the strain off young shoulders, but it ensures that nothing gets left behind and only the most up-to-date material is available for learning.
Along with documents, lesson plans, and test results delivered via Backpack; the Meraki MDM app provides students access to a library of managed apps. Students can have core apps automatically pushed to their device, but collections of extra curricula content can be offered. Again, managed through powerful tags, individual students, classes, or sets of devices, can be given the exact content they need.
A TA for every classroom
Putting educators first, while not limiting the powerful creative potential of technology, is an essential goal of making our schools ready for the future. With Systems Manager’s new features, you have a new Teacher’s Assistant helping you manage the digital classroom.
The time has come – when the skies crackle with the foretelling boom of a new era, when the waves rise to meet the heavens in a cacophony of the grandest scale, when mere mortals become gods. The time has come to take the Meraki Challenge.
Bring honor to your person in this timed endeavor, as you navigate the luminous pages of the fabled Meraki dashboard and, with the nimblest of keystrokes, compete for the swiftest completion of this momentous journey. Daringly unveil paralyzing bandwidth hogs, bring the murkiest of network traffic to light, put network abusers in their rightful place – become the networking hero you were meant to be.
Each fortnight, fortuitous victors will receive an intelligent wrist-dongle of their choosing (Apple Watch or Android Watch). One supreme hero will be granted a journey to the mythical isles of their dreams (tropical vacation for two).
Soon after the introduction of our cloud managed switches we provided the opportunity to create a port schedule on Meraki switches. The ability to turn ports off when not required serves as both a security feature and a means to save energy. In terms of security, it may be desirable to prevent access to the network outside regular office hours, or to restrict phone access to specific areas of a building.
Switching off ports connecting to PoE devices also has the beneficial side effect of reducing overall power consumption. Some of these devices – VDI terminals, for example – can consume as much as 30 Watts each, so power savings can quickly add up if applied to many such power–hungry devices. But how does the network engineer see, and better yet report, how much power has been saved?
Problem solved. The switch summary reporting tool now includes details about the aggregated power consumption across all switches and there’s also a sorted list, showing which of those switches are reporting the highest consumption. As always with our summary reports, a specific time period or tagged subset of switches can be selected, enabling easy comparison between floors, building, departments, sites, etc.
Top switches by power usage are also included in the email version of the report, which can be sent on–demand, or scheduled for automatic, regularly emailed reports.
Savings like these may be modest, but with the addition of reporting they can be used to demonstrate the owners’ commitment to reducing both operational expenditure and environmental impact where possible. Free savings of both – who would say no to that?
Like so many Meraki features before, switch power reporting was added based on customer feedback. Never forget that every Meraki customer has the ability to shape the future of our products. Just head down to the lower right corner of every Dashboard page and make a wish to have your say.
In March we saw a tweet that caught our attention from the team at Inveneo. Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise that delivers sustainable computing and broadband to those who need it most in the developing world. They believe that improved access to technology can transform lives and opportunities, even in some of the poorest and most technology-challenged communities.
The tweet had a picture of a Cisco Meraki MR62 outdoor access point (AP) that was being used as part of the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) project.With the Inveneo office just a 10 minute drive from the Meraki office in San Francisco, we went over to find out more about how they are using Meraki technology.
The ERCI project uses a combination of technologies to offer connectivity to relief agencies fighting Ebola in local communities. Rugged Meraki APs are used at the edge of the deployment to provide end device connectivity, with backhaul provided by long range wireless backhaul to cellular towers. Although not yet live at the time of our visit, it was fascinating to hear what features were most important to them, in comparison to our typical expectations of customers needs. A typical enterprise may be interested in performance and security as primary features, but when your APs have to be powered by the sun using solar panels, energy consumption is of highest importance.
Although not the instigator of the meeting, the conversation switched to Meraki Systems Manager, Meraki’s MDM platform. Inveneo exclusively uses Android tablets due to the ability to find low cost, locally sourced, or locally manufactured devices where Apple products are not available. Again it was interesting to hear the differences in the importance of pieces of functionality when compared to the typical uses we see for Systems Manager.
The use of MDM is focused on enabling and supporting the user of the device rather than securing and restricting. One of the important features provided by Systems Manager for Inveneo is a report on the battery level of the device. With disaster relief workers and community health workers often in locations with poor to no infrastructure, knowing if a user was able to charge the device is important in understanding if they are able to use it.
Another useful reporting feature is to find out what apps users download. This led to the team finding out that one of the most heavily used types of apps was for a flashlight. Now knowing this, they can pre-load a flashlight app, and other apps they know are likely to be useful, to save on scarce local bandwidth.
We hope to catchup with the Inveneo team in the future to find out how the ERCI project progresses, and we would love to hear from anyone else who has innovative community uses for Meraki technology. Tweet us @meraki.
A little under 2 years ago Meraki did what no one else dared. In a world’s first we set up a working, enterprise grade WiFi network in under an hour during a live webinar. No safety net was used, no magic tricks, only what a real network engineer would experience using Meraki WiFi.
Now, for the third instalment the stakes have been raised, and it just got personal…
The Mission Impossible team is forced back into action for their toughest challenge yet, as an evil network genius has abducted the beloved Meraki dog – Daisy. Hell–bent on causing maximum mayhem and not motivated by money, the kidnapper is demanding the successful configuration of a seemingly impossible network, within an hour. To make matters worse, the captor has also stipulated that the configuration of the network must be decided by the audience. During the webinar you will be able to vote for the scenario you would like to see completed. The scenario with the most votes will be attempted…live!
JOIN US AND HELP SAVE DAISY
Spaces for the premiere are limited so please sign up now to avoid disappointment.
Follow us @meraki or search #savedaisy to be first to hear about the scenario options and to win exclusive Meraki merchandise.
You have smartphones, smart thermostats, smart cities – why not smart switches? While you may think a switch, is a switch, is a switch, think again. Have you ever needed to run cable tests remotely, or see what’s happening on a specific switch port? How about customizing access settings on a per-port basis, for any location?
A normal switch will remain shrouded in secrecy on these matters, but a Meraki MS switch, now that’s another story.
Meraki switches are managed through the same cloud dashboard as all other Meraki products, enabling easy plug-and-play deployment and centralized control over distributed locations. With cloud management, all of your switch ports can be configured and monitored with built-in virtual stacking. This allows tens, hundreds, or even thousands of switches to be managed as one logical entity, no matter how physically dispersed they may be.
What does it mean to “manage” a switch port? You can configure ports for specific access devices (such as printers or desktop devices), assign voice VLANs, control PoE, apply tags to help with filtering and pushing settings, and more. Importantly, the Meraki dashboard gives you up-to-date and real time information as to the current state of the network, negating the need for often outdated documentation referenced when making configuration changes.
Deep network visibility
As the industry’s only switches with integrated Layer 7 application and client fingerprinting, Meraki MS switches provide intelligent network insight and analysis as to the types of traffic traversing your network. Black box no more! Now you can identify, classify, and report hundreds of applications, and by whom they are being used.
In addition to analyzing traffic, switches also unlock the network topology feature (shown below), which automatically maps the equipment in your entire network. Instantly gain a hierarchical overview of how your network physically interconnects and the health status of each device. Again, continuously up-to-date and dynamically adjusted depending on changes to the topology, manual network diagrams are a thing of the past.
The troubleshooting tools available for switches make it easy to manage any location. Run a remote Ethernet cable test, conduct a packet capture, ping a device, and more – the time and effort to resolution just became a lot faster. As with all Meraki gear, you can also set up automatic email alerts to notify you of any potential network issues, so you can practice proactive network management.
Scalability and failover
MS Layer 3 Switches support Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) dynamic routing, offering greater design flexibility, better routing resilience, and improved traffic flow. OSPF’s routing algorithm automatically factors link costs (such as link bandwidth and availability) to calculate optimal pathways for routing packets from point A to point B. This efficiency translates into improved network performance, since delays across slow links are minimized.
Additionally, IPv4 Access control lists (ACLs) secure subnet boundaries while limiting broadcast and undesirable protocol traffic, reducing congestion.
Redundancy is also a key component of the Meraki MS layer 3 implementation. First, OSPF’s native routing resilience automatically adapts to identified link failures – preventing vital resources from becoming unreachable if alternative pathways to it exist. Second, built-in warm spare redundancy ensures that downtime and disruption are minimized in the event of physical switch failure. Finally, integrated DHCP services can be enabled on layer 3 Meraki switches, if an MS switch hosting DHCP service fails over to a warm spare, DHCP service will seamlessly transition to the backup switch and retain state.
Convinced? Join us for a switching webinar or sign up for a free switch trial to switch on the lights and see what’s really going on in the heart of your network.