Archive for October, 2015

Navigate the #fullstack

 

Here at Meraki, we are continually focused on simplifying the IT management experience. One of the areas our engineering team is always paying attention to is how to offer additional benefits to customers who have multiple Meraki product types. We want every product, be that wireless, security, switching or mobility management to be outstanding in their own right, but what about when they come together?

One exceptional example of this integration is Systems Manager Sentry. With Systems Manager MDM holding a wealth of data on client devices, it can automatically configure the network based on rules you provide. Another is Group Policies, where one interface allows network-wide rules, such as firewalling and traffic shaping to be configured, no matter if the connectivity type is wired or wireless.

The Meraki dashboard is central to our cloud technology and is used to manage all our products through a simple, intuitive, and powerful interface. This is continually updated and improved based on customer feedback and internal research. The cloud infrastructure allows for these changes to be seamlessly deployed without user intervention, patches, or downtime.

In February we introduced our #fullstack campaign to highlight the benefits of a combined network view in dashboard. With a combined view, the products are grouped together so that a single site can be viewed in a single navigation pane.

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Although Systems Manager deployments could be managed from the same dashboard interface as the other products, it was previously not possible to combine them. Today we announce the beta availability of fully combined networks, with Systems Manager integrated into the navigation pane. If you would like to try out the new interface, go to the Organization Overview page within dashboard and choose Combine.

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To celebrate the arrival of the combined #fullstack network, we are running another blog promotion for our subscribers. The winner will receive a full stack of Meraki equipment, comprising the following equipment, supplied with 3 year licences:

  • 1 x MX64 Security Appliance
  • 1 x MS220-8P PoE Ethernet Switch
  • 1 x MR32 Wireless Access Point with BLE beacon technology
  • 20 x Systems Manager licences

To take part in the promotion, all you need to do is subscribe to the Meraki blog by the end of November 2015. Current subscribers are automatically entered to win.  Additional terms and conditions apply; subscription is not necessary to enter.

If you are an existing Meraki customer with only one product family today, why not try adding some of the others to learn more about the benefits of the full Meraki stack. Contact us to arrange your evaluation at no charge. You’ll be up and running in a matter of minutes, and we have a dedicated evaluation support team ready to help you at every step.

 

As if by magic

With the release of iOS 9 Apple introduced a number of improvements to the Volume Purchasing Program (VPP). Of these improvements, one of the more significant is app assignment by device. With this new functionality it is now possible to assign VPP apps to an iOS device without the need for an Apple ID, and if that device is supervised, the installation is silent.

Before this change, it was only possible to assign apps to a user by associating them with an Apple ID. This method of app management can be an administrative nightmare when used in environments such as K-12 education, where many users may be working with a particular device. Students may not have an Apple ID, or may be too young to have one without parental consent. Additionally, it meant that an Apple ID needed to be configured on the iPad for apps to be silently pushed to supervised devices.

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With VPP device assignment, an Apple ID is no longer required and with supervised devices, apps can be pushed silently with no end user interaction. Silent app push has a huge impact on an administrator’s ability to seamlessly deliver iOS apps to users. Combining this new functionality with Meraki Systems Manager features, such as multiuser authentication, can offer a fantastic classroom experience. Apps and settings are tailored to each student’s needs and dynamically changed as the user changes.

Systems Manager Legacy customers can gain access to this great new functionality by upgrading to the latest version of Systems Manager. Please contact your Meraki representative for further information or alternatively sign up for a specialist Systems Manager Teacher’s Assistant webinar here. Additionally stay tuned to our YouTube channel for additional video guides to this functionality.

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Meraki Gives

Over the years, many Meraki employees have found ways to volunteer and give back to causes they are passionate about. About a year and a half ago, some Meraki go-getters wanted to take this interest already inherent in many employees and create a central, company-wide volunteer program that would promote team bonding and create an impact of scale around the Bay Area. After many months of planning, Meraki Gives was born!

meraki_gives_logoSince its launch, Meraki Gives has organized quite a few activities including a local food bank volunteer day, a PB&J sandwich assembly line to help local organizations fight hunger, a holiday card-making session for survivors of domestic violence, and most recently, a company-wide school supply drive to help local students head back to school with backpacks filled to the brim.

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Just a few of the school supplies Meraki employees gave to kick off this school year.

The enthusiasm we’ve seen in the office around these activities has been extremely inspiring. Managers have found crafty methods and motivational words to promote healthy inter-team competition for donation drives, employees have put an incredible amount of attention to detail in the gifts and supplies they bring in, and the company is always looking for more ways to give back.

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Employees making hundreds of tasty PB&J sandwiches to fight local hunger.

The Meraki Gives planning team is currently looking for more volunteering opportunities in San Francisco and the surrounding area. If you have a cause or activity you think would be a good fit, please let us know! Shoot us an email at [email protected].

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Meraki volunteers at the SF Marin Food Bank earlier this year.

If you’re interested in keeping up with Meraki Gives, follow the Meraki Facebook page for updates about what we’re up to. Maybe we’ll see you out and about in the community!

 

 

Blog Benefits

Over the last few months there have been a number of opportunities for our blog subscribers to have a chance of receiving exciting Meraki goodies. Being up to date with all the latest information has never been so rewarding! As we reach lofty new levels of readership, we wanted to reflect on our past promotions and their winners.

“March to 1000”

In our “March to 1000” promotion, subscribers could receive the industry’s first 802.11ac UTM device. Lars Cederholm, Business Developer at ATEA, was the winner of this promotion and received an MX64W.

ATEA is an IT infrastructure company based in the Nordics with several events throughout the year, including an IT roadshow. With 14 cities along the way and over 3,000 customer attendees, Lars has been putting his new security appliance to good use. Not only is he using the device to demo the security and wireless features of the Cisco Meraki solution, but he’s also set it up to provide guest WiFi at the events. The integrated Facebook WiFi splash feature is providing a streamlined way to access the network, while also providing ATEA with additional brand awareness on the social media platform. We’re excited to see what Lars does next with his MX64W!

“We Made it!”

Following the great success of the “March to 1000” promotion we ran the “We Made it!” promotion offering ten limited edition Meraki t-shirts. The winners included:

Jim H.

John B.

Todd M.

Pablo N.

Jonathan H.

If you’re a blog subscriber it could be worth double checking your inbox, maybe you missed our message. Please get in contact if you find your congratulatory e-mail!

“Take me Home”

Finally the “Take me Home” promotion celebrated the power of the Meraki teleworking solutions available with the MX64 and Z1 products. The five winners of the Z1 teleworker gateways were:

Michael M.

Judy R.

Rusty V.

Craig K.

Adam K.

We would like to offer our thanks to all winners and blog subscribers for their support of the blog, and we look forward to running further promotions in the future.

Latency, Tunnels, and Peers – Oh My!

AutoVPN is a unique feature of Cisco Meraki MX Security Appliances that allows secure connections to be established between remote branches within seconds, and it’s one of the most common reasons customers have for choosing to deploy MXs. Because visibility is an important part of the Meraki management experience, we also provide a comprehensive VPN status page to monitor the health and connectivity of AutoVPN connections, exported subnets, and overall cloud connectivity.

Now we’ve taken it a step further by completely redesigning how we present this information to you — adding some new enhancements that allow you to quickly retrieve important information about your VPN deployment.

Seamless access to usage and performance metrics

First, the entire status page has been redesigned with a focus on easy visibility into key metrics like tunnel latency, VPN usage, number of subnets exported, site connectivity, and more:

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In the main status view, a user is presented with a full list of VPN networks along with statistics on usage and tunnel health.

In the ring view, each band of green on the outer ring represents an MX Security Appliance deployed at a given site. The band length is based on the amount of VPN traffic to or from that site. Wide green segments indicate MX networks that send and receive larger amounts of VPN traffic than thinner segments. Often “wider” sites have more VPN peer connections than “thinner” sites, but not always.

Below, we can quickly see that the MX highlighted has a high amount of VPN peer density (it’s connected to multiple MXs at other sites), and is one of the major hubs for VPN traffic.  

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Hovering over another peer MX within the same VPN network, however, shows a different story.

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With this particular peer, we see there are two primary VPN connections: one to the heavily-trafficked site we just looked at, and another to a second MX with which it has far less VPN traffic.

New latency measurements for troubleshooting and failover

Another useful addition is the reporting of latency metrics for enhanced visibility into delays in packet delivery over the VPN. Many factors can contribute to latency: physical distance, malicious activity, network misconfiguration, or just plain old congestion during peak times of day. Unlike the point-in-time latency data on the existing VPN status page, this new latency information lets you identify patterns over time, which you can then use to pinpoint troublesome peers, applications, or users.

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Convenient per-site review

Finally, you can also view statistics for a specific site and its peers.  These statistics include latency and usage for all directly connected VPN links, the number of exported subnets, and any non-Meraki peer connections.  Best of all, this is all available from a single view.

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Overall, these enhancements provide more intuitive visibility into the health and connectivity of VPN networks, which helps to streamline VPN configuration, management, and troubleshooting.

You can try the new view for yourself by clicking the link in the “check out the new version of this page” banner on the VPN status page in your dashboard.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new page, so please let us know what you think by making a wish in Dashboard, using the feedback tool that appears when you switch back to the old version of the page, or reaching out to us on Twitter or Reddit!

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Coming Soon: E-Rate Webinar & K-12 Roadshow

Over the next few months, schools and libraries will be vying for a slice of government-issued E-Rate funding. E-Rate is a program which allocates funds for schools and libraries to obtain and install Internet/telecommunications and internal Internet access.

Designing a Network for the Future of Learning

The Cisco Meraki cloud managed solution is uniquely suited to meet the growing needs and demands of a continually evolving digital classroom. Meraki provides complete visibility into network usage, support for challenging, high-density environments, CIPA compliant network security, and much more. Making changes to configuration settings on local or highly remote network devices takes just a few mouse clicks through the Meraki dashboard. With Meraki, you can adapt your network on the fly for every need and, because of the unique cloud-management style, any new update or feature release is automatically pushed to customer networks, thus future-proofing the network deployment and providing a high performance network for evolving needs.

All Cisco Meraki hardware and most licenses are eligible for E-Rate funding as of the Funding Year 2015 Eligible Services List.

Check out our handy 2016 E-Rate FAQ for more information.

Learn More

On Wednesday, October 14th at 12 PM PT, we’ll be presenting a live webinar you won’t want to miss! Top E-Rate consultant from Funds for Learning, Brian Stephens, will walk through updates to the 2016 E-Rate funding year and share how they affect you. You’ll also hear from a Meraki Product Specialist about why the Cisco Meraki cloud networking full stack is built for the demands of an education environment and is trusted across thousands of K-12 campuses.

Register now

K-12 Roadshow

In addition to our webinar and online resources, Meraki will be heading out to a trade show near you to talk all things E-Rate and how this applies to your classroom environment. You can find us at one of the following shows in the next coming months:

October 21, Charleston, SC
EdTech 2015

November 5, Springfield, IL
Illinois Education & Technology Conference

November 11, Indianapolis, IN
HECC 2015 State Conference

November 18, Albuquerque, NM
NMTIE 2015

November 21, Rochester, NY
2015 NYSCATE Conference

January 12, Orlando, FL
FETC 2016

We’d love to meet you while we’re out on the road and answer any questions you might have.

Hope to see you there!

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Improving the view

At Meraki we pride ourselves on having the cleanest, most intuitive management interface in the data networking industry. From the very early days of the company, almost 10 years ago now, the emphasis has been on a management experience like no other, which focuses engineers on what they’re trying to achieve, rather than how they get there.

We know the dashboard is the instrument panel that drivers of Meraki equipment rely on every day, and it’s important to us that the interface continues to meet or exceed the needs of those drivers. There’s always room for improvement, and we’ve recently adopted a few of the suggestions we’ve received and re-modelled the relevant pages. Let’s take a quick look.

Firstly, the MX security appliances. Auto VPN remains one of our most popular flagship features. Our customers love the ability to configure and bring-up site-to-site IPSEC VPNs in less than 30 seconds. There’s simply nothing else quite like it, all made possible by the centralization of management in the cloud.

One area we were asked to take a look at was the VPN Status page. Once VPNs are configured, especially when many are in use, it’s extremely helpful to be able to visualize those connections and learn more about them. Our MX product marketing manager, Joe, is writing a more comprehensive blog post on this particular change, so for now here’s a quick sneak peak of one of the new graphics we’ve included on the new page. For more details, please swing by the blog again later in the week, or better yet, subscribe to receive new posts by email.

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Next we turn to WiFi. One of the challenges of keeping a user interface clean is how to provide all desired functionality and information without cluttering the screen. Many have tried and many have failed. At Meraki we’re fortunate to have a world class design team who obsess over the details and keep our engineers on the straight and narrow when it comes to the UI. The updates to our AP list and details pages are a great example of this attention to detail at work.

The ‘old’ version of the AP detail page was trying to display all configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting on one page. This design served us well for many years, but with more tools being added the page became increasingly cluttered, requiring the network admin to scroll up and down the page to access everything.

The new version addresses this challenge by adopting a tabbed design. It’s now easy to hop between tabs to access different views and settings. We’ve also taken the opportunity of a redesign to add a contextual event log, showing events related only to the AP currently being viewed.

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The good news is that any Meraki customer can try this new version out today. Just look for the banner at the top of the dashboard page, inviting you to try it for yourself. Further underlining our commitment to customer feedback, when electing to revert to the ‘old’ version we’ll present a popup asking for comments about the new design. We’ll be listening carefully before this becomes the default view for all customers.

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We’ve got one more example to share today. Our hugely popular MDM product, Systems Manager has also been maturing and expanding its feature set significantly, presenting us with similar UI challenges. In this case we’ve reworked the managed device settings page to provide an easy-to-navigate menu of options. Here’s a look at the new, cleaner page, replete with beautiful new icons:

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Once again, this new version is optional while we’re gathering feedback so we can ensure it’s ready before it becomes the default.

At Meraki we understand the importance of good design. It’s no wonder we receive such consistently great feedback and accolades from the industry, for both our beautiful hardware, and the software our customers interact with every day. Good design, especially in the technology world where features are forever evolving and being invented, is a journey rather than a destination. Thanks to the continued feedback from all our customers joining us on that journey, we hope to remain the industry’s favourite network management interface.

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Customer Story Contest

As a reader of this blog, perhaps you’ve had some experience with Meraki hardware (no? check out our evaluation program). We’re always searching for customers with unique, engaging, and robust deployments, within any industry of any size.

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If you have an interesting Meraki deployment story or use case, let us know! From now until December 1, 2015, we’ll be running a Customer Story Contest through our blog. We will select winners based on a combination of originality, robustness, and Meraki spirit. Winners will have the option to be featured in a Meraki case study, blog post, or live webinar, and also receive an exciting box of exclusive Meraki gear.

We can’t wait to hear your story! Email [email protected] with a brief description of your Meraki use case; let us know why you chose Meraki, which products you are using and how, and any interesting business cases that have proved helpful in your environment.

Need inspiration? Check out some past featured customers here, such as The Field Museum, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Albany State University, and many more.

The scalability and flexibility of Meraki cloud-managed products allow our customers to get creative with their network design and use cases – what will you do with your Meraki gear?

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You never know where Meraki will pop up. (The Field Museum)

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Would you believe the WiFi here is powered by Meraki? Or that there’s WiFi here at all? (Saxon Energy Services)

 

 

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