Archive for March, 2017

Sweet Briar College MV Case Study

Nestled in the gently rolling hills of rural Virginia, Sweet Briar College is a women’s liberal arts college spanning over 3,200 acres. The campus includes a distant equestrian riding site and other remote facilities connected in some places by winding dirt roads. With such a large campus, keeping an eye on everything becomes as challenging as it does critical.

Over the years, Sweet Briar’s small IT team, led by Chief Technology Officer Aaron Mahler, has been tasked with adding more and more elements to their network, including security cameras. Their ten-year-old legacy system was cumbersome and created extra work for Mahler’s staff. As long-time Meraki customers, the team already understood the value in a cloud-managed system, so they were eager to implement the new cameras.

Original Challenges

  • A large campus with several remote facilities made monitoring during off-hours challenging.
  • Staff from various parts of the school, including the library and bookstore, were unable to easily and autonomously view video footage in their areas due to the complexity of the video management software.
  • The historic nature of the campus and its architecture provides extra limitations on networking infrastructure and makes it difficult to house extra hardware without disrupting the beauty of the site.
  • While the school enjoys great network connectivity, the IT team wanted to ensure that bandwidth was used for mission-critical IT and educational tasks, not just security camera footage.
  • Sweet Briar’s previous camera system was generally challenging to manage, with a complicated and cumbersome interface.
  • The team had no way of knowing when cameras went offline or stopped recording, which caused major issues when it came time to recall footage after critical events.

 

In reference to their old camera system:

“We wish we didn’t have any cameras. They are so unreliable that when someone comes to us for footage and we don’t have it because the camera was offline we get blamed.”

 

The Deployment

  • The team installed almost 70 MV cameras across the campus.
  • MVs in remote parts of the campus are connected via wireless mesh with Meraki APs.
  • A mix of MV21 and MV71 cameras allows for full coverage both indoors and out.
  • Mahler’s team assigned granular access controls to staff from various teams, allowing them to monitor only their pertinent areas.

 

With Meraki MV:

“The ease of use is tremendous. The amount of time savings for your staff, the installation and managing the cameras, and the ease of use for your campus police or security office…are all tremendous selling points for us.”

 

Results

  • A relatively small team of campus safety officers can provide a safer environment for students and faculty without having to be everywhere at once. The simple web-based interface and mobile app allow them to easily stay keyed- in to remote areas.
  • Centralized management and the ability to configure and view video through the Meraki dashboard have saved the Sweet Briar staff—from the IT team to the librarians—a considerable amount of time and effort versus their old system.
  • With user-based permissions, campus staff in charge of specific facilities can better manage their areas since they no longer require a set of eyes onsite at all times.
  • Installation posed no major technical or aesthetic issues, even in buildings over 100 years old.
  • The Motion Search tool allows for staff to quickly identify specific events on campus without manually sifting through hours or days of footage.
  • The team receives alerts when cameras go offline, allowing them to proactively address the issue before they miss a critical event.

From 2 AM Router Parties to the Meraki Dashboard

Imagine walking into a room full of your closest colleagues, only to see them huddled around a desk and crouched over a laptop with multiple routers on the side. Now imagine this room is not your office, but actually a hotel room in a completely different city.

And those routers? Those are but a small fraction of the devices still stacked up against the wall waiting to be configured. Your role? Getting ready to join your colleagues, not for a LAN party, but a Router Party.

IT team member configuring devices in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.

IT team member configuring devices in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.

For Randy Haan, Director of Infrastructure – Western Region at The Salvation Army, Router Parties occurred quite often, happening as early as 2007. In a webinar on March 22nd, at 11 AM PT, Haan was joined by a Cisco Meraki Product Specialist to share more about the need for Router Parties and what they were like, as well as how Meraki helped them transition from in-person configurations to a simple, easy-to-use dashboard.

The Salvation Army, a non-profit organization with the mission to “Do The Most Good,” is dedicated to feeding, clothing, comforting, and caring for those in need throughout the world. Haan, who oversees the Western Region in the U.S., manages a widely dispersed network that extends from Montana to as far as Guam. This poses a geographical challenge for Haan, as his lean team manages over 600 locations of thrift stores, youth centers, and elderly care facilities dispersed throughout the region.

Stacked devices to be configured in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.

Stacked devices to be configured in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.

Haan hosted these parties to maintain consistency and accuracy for each of the device configurations. The team would be sent to a single location in cities like Portland, Phoenix, and San Francisco, where they would post up, un-box, and start configuring.

List of devices to configure during a Router Party in 2013.

List of devices to configure during a Router Party in 2013.

There was always a large number of devices being configured for hundreds of sites, which meant the team was usually up “configuring boxes until 2 AM,” as Haan described it. But that’s what needed to be done. At the end of each Router Party, Haan and his team would re-box and ship them to each location.

Then one day, someone brought in a Cisco Meraki wireless AP. “It was cute and nice, but we were a full shop with the previous vendor at the time, and we weren’t willing to change that,” explained Haan. However, after they experienced a “catastrophic failure” of their network infrastructure, Haan decided to give Meraki a try.

Since then, everything has changed. By introducing Meraki, Haan not only changed the network infrastructure of the Western Region, but he also changed the philosophy and mindset with his team about what IT management meant, and how simplicity does not have to mean less powerful technology.

Today, The Salvation Army is a full Meraki shop with MX security appliances, MR wireless APs, and MS switches. They’re also trialing Systems Manager for enterprise mobility management, as well as MV security cameras. Watch our webinar from March 22nd at 11 AM PT, to hear from Haan about the unique challenges The Salvation Army faced, and how they use Meraki to build a reliable infrastructure and positively impact the business

 

Meraki Communications Goes International

Following last week’s Systems Manager and MR news, MC has some exciting new developments as well. Starting today, Meraki Communications is available in Canada!

mc-mantle-bg

Canadian customers can begin a free trial of the MC74 by calling a Meraki rep. Every customer will get $20 of free SIP credit, which can be used to test out the system in their own environment.

Use MC and Dashboard to deploy phones in new locations—even a home office. Anywhere with an Internet connection can now have an enterprise-grade phone system, without the headache of setting up and managing a complicated PBX.

Since the launch of Meraki Communications last May, customers all over the world have been asking for the MC74. Our team has been hard at work scaling out the integrated experience of Easy Onboarding to different geographies, and we are excited to be able to deliver that same intuitive experience to Canada. It is important to us that customers are able to purchase phone numbers though the Meraki Dashboard, to ensure that the process of deploying a phone system only takes minutes, not months.

For more information, check out the MC Canadian Customer Webinar on Tuesday, March 21st at 10:00 am Pacific Time, or check out the MC Product Page.

Movilidad reimaginada: Cisco Meraki Systems Manager

Hemos renovado Cisco Meraki Systems Manager, nuestra plataforma EMM (Gestión de Movilidad Empresarial) Esto representa la única y más significativa adición que hemos hecho a Systems Manager desde la introducción de la solución en 2010. Para aquellos que no están familiarizados con el modelo de licencias de Meraki, cuando agregamos nuevas funcionalidades a un producto, todos los clientes existentes reciben las dichas actualizaciones.

Tenemos nuevas características y capacidades, además de un nuevo enfoque para la gestión de la movilidad empresarial. ¡Prueba gratis! ahora mismo.

En Cisco Meraki, estamos motivados a simplificar la tecnología de gran alcance. Es por eso que hemos añadido grandes cambios a nuestra plataforma EMM (Enterprise Mobility Managment). Hemos seguido aprendiendo cómo clientes de todo el mundo administran sus dispositivos móviles y las características que necesitan para manejar sus negocios con eficacia. Además repensamos la forma en que los dispositivos móviles y los PC se registran, cuándo y por qué se actualizan y cómo se configuran en primer lugar. Cisco Meraki Systems Manager proporciona una forma inteligente y sencilla para administrar las aplicaciones y el acceso para los puntos finales en cualquier organización.

Con este lanzamiento los clientes podrán disfrutar de una serie de características nuevas, entre ellas:

▪ VPN por aplicación
▪ Android for Work – totalmente certificado
▪ Administración y configuración de aplicaciones
▪ Nuevas herramientas UX para simplificar las integraciones
▪ Rastreo de teléfonos móviles
▪ Autenticación de usuario con Google, Azure o cualquier OAuth

Te invitamos a que lo compruebes tu mismo a través de esta prueba gratis por 30 días. Regístrate aquí ahora mismo.

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Introducing the MR74

Today we’re excited to announce a brand new wireless access point for general purpose industrial and outdoor deployments: the MR74. This new AP brings the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 technology to our mid-range MR7x portfolio.

Cisco Meraki MR74 rugged/outdoor 802.11ac Wave 2 AP

The new MR74 sports the same physical form factor as the MR72.

The MR74 is a quad-radio, cloud-managed, 802.11ac Wave 2 access point. It provides an overall efficiency boost over the MR72 via 2×2 Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO), which allows the AP to serve multiple concurrent wireless clients. Being able to send data simultaneously to multiple mobile devices is a new, 802.11ac Wave 2 capability; before Wave 2, APs could only address one client at a time — albeit rapidly enough so as to simulate concurrent client connections.

The MR74 is designed and tested for salt spray, vibration, extreme thermal conditions (with an operating temperature from -40o to 131o Fahrenheit, or -40c to 55c), shock, and dust — and it is IP67-rated. This makes it an ideal access point for manufacturing, construction, general-purpose outdoor, and industrial indoor use where environmental conditions may be harsh.

Like the MR72, the MR74 has four external N-type female connectors and is compatible with Meraki dual-band omni, dual-band sector, and dual-band patch antennas (see the MR74 data sheet for more details and specifications). This is ideal for warehouse and industrial installs where high amounts of interference may require more specialized antennas.

The MR74 comes with all the rich, cloud-based features our customers have come to expect of our wireless platform: out-of-the-box location analytics, an integrated Bluetooth BLE radio for scanning and advertising, a dedicated radio for RF optimization and wireless intrusion detection and prevention (WIDS/WIPS), self-configuring mesh, and centralized visibility and control over networked devices, users, and applications.

In short, the MR74 is an ideal, flexible AP for industrial indoor or general-purpose outdoor use, and we encourage you to take it for a test drive in your own environment through our risk free evaluation program.

Note: End of Sale for the MR72 will be effective April 30th, 2017.

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Mobility Reimagined: Cisco Meraki Systems Manager

Today is an exciting day for our enterprise mobility management (EMM) customers. We’ve revamped Cisco Meraki Systems Manager, our EMM platform. This represents the single, most significant addition we’ve made to Systems Manager since introducing the solution in 2010. And, for those not familiar with the Cisco Meraki licensing model, when we add new functionality to a product all existing customers automatically get access to the new functionality–for no extra charge.

What’s New

  • Per-App and Always-on VPN
  • Android for Work – fully certified
  • Systems Manager API
  • Brand new UX tools to simplify onboarding
  • Managed app configuration
  • Cellular data tracking
  • User authentication w/ Google, Azure, or any OAuth

New features. New capabilities. And (maybe most importantly) a fresh, new approach to enterprise mobility management.

Simplifying Management and Access

At Cisco Meraki, we are driven by our mission of simplifying powerful technology. That’s why we’ve added so much to our EMM platform. We continue to learn about the different ways customers around the world want to manage their mobile devices, and the features they need to run their businesses effectively. We’ve rethought the way mobile devices and PCs check-in, when and why they are updated, and how they are configured in the first place.

Cisco Meraki Systems Manager provides a simple and effective way to manage the apps and access for endpoints in any organization. Specify the right apps and access for mobile devices, who should be receiving them, and when they should have them. Cisco Meraki takes care of the rest.

New features, new capabilities

With Systems Manager 2017, customers can enjoy a host of new features, including:

– VPN: Per-App and Always-on VPN bring more flexibility, security, and control. Per-App VPN means only the apps that matter are secured and connected to home base. Always-on VPN automatically and on demand creates a secure, private tunnel to a security appliance from wherever a device may be. This is supported in the certificate-based VPN solutions, including Cisco AnyConnect and IKEv2.

– Android for Work: Android for Work provides a way to enable apps, add containerization, and bring security without needing to manage complicated SDKs or application source code. Meraki enables Android for Work to provide major business benefits and secure work-ready apps with minimal setup required. With this launch, we are certified on all of the currently available Android for Work protocols. Popular use cases include:

  • Work Profile: maintain BYOD use cases with native containerization and mobile application management
  • Kiosk Mode: point of sale and kiosk mode at the click of a button
  • Organization-owned: lock down the entire device for maximum security and control

More Android
More settings, restrictions, and support than ever before with Android

– New API: The Systems Manager API extends the power and visibility of the Meraki Dashboard to the platforms and infrastructure you already support. Trigger a device wipe when removing an employee from your internal database. Automatically assign apps to users where you already manage them. For those with a Cisco Meraki Dashboard account, see the API documentation here.

– UX tools to simplify onboarding: This one hits particularly close to home for us. Our mission is to simplify powerful technology. There are a lot of benefits that come with mobile devices and PCs, but there can also be complexity. Whether it’s setting up an Apple push certificate, an Android EMM domain, or what is needed for a Windows laptop, the new onboarding flow makes it just a couple clicks.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 5.29.37 PM

To try Systems Manager EMM now, start an instant free 30-day trial.