Archive for March, 2020

Powering the remote workforce

In a recent webinar, we discussed the challenging and unique times we live in as workforces around the world move to temporary remote work. While many of us are separated, we are also interconnected via the internet like never before. At Cisco Meraki, we want to help organizations continue doing what they are best at, with minimal discontinuity. Across Cisco, teams are collaborating to help communities work from home and maintain productivity through uncertain times. Working together, this is our global, collective opportunity to unlock human ingenuity and contribute to solving this crisis.

Today’s mission

Around the world, IT managers are undertaking the task of ensuring that hundreds and thousands of users experience a seamless transition to remote work. Critical work is being done at hospitals and on manufacturing floors, demanding the need for employees to stay connected. A sudden disruption of internet access can have a significant impact on an organization, as every second matters, and IT needs to just work. IT leaders want to make sure employees at home have the same simple, secure and reliable network access they get at work. This will enable them to stay connected with each other through collaboration applications such as Webex, and have access to office applications such as Office365, without a glitch. 

With the current state of things, employees have enough to worry about and be distracted by. The last thing a remote worker wants to worry about is the performance of their network connection, or how to configure their VPN. Providing internet access as a remote IT manager is highly challenging as the demand for support has increased with entire workforces working remotely. New ways of working mean that corporate networks are operating in a new way, resulting in new types of trouble tickets. Not to mention the headaches caused by managing the security of hundreds or thousands of remote employee connections.

Built for immediate connectivity

Our mission at Cisco Meraki has become more important than ever as we help IT managers navigate the difficult terrain of a remote work environment. Since our founding, we have supported fast-moving organizations looking to modernize their networks quickly. For those who need help to urgently modify their networks for remote work, Meraki offers an easy and secure option. Meraki devices can be pulled out of the box, plugged in virtually anywhere in the world, and instantly deliver a seamless “in-office” experience at home. With simple Meraki cloud-management, IT managers are able to maintain visibility of employee networks, and continue to monitor potential interference to workforce productivity while at home.

Here are just a few of the tools available to the administrator looking after remote workers:

  • Create a site-to-site VPN in a few clicks over a WAN link
  • Seamlessly and securely provide remote network access via Wi-Fi over an encrypted tunnel
  • Maintain service continuity with cellular backup
  • Keep end-user devices secure when off-network
  • Perform remote troubleshooting of employee connectivity and applications

The Meraki dashboard has also been updated to allow IT admins to quickly identify VPN clients within the organization.

How Cisco Meraki can help

At Cisco, we have been addressing the hurdles of remote work for years, and we want to do anything we can to help others during this unpredictable time. One of the most important things we can do right now is to empower IT managers to keep their organizations working seamlessly. Cisco has multiple offers available to help those in difficult times, such as free Webex, Cisco Security, and more. Meraki support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help prepare your organization for remote work. If you are looking to learn more about how Meraki can help mobilize your workforce, watch our on-demand webinar.

 

Additional resources: 

Meraki and Cisco Collaboration Teleworker Solution for Businesses

Captive Portals for Captive Audiences

If you’re like us, you’re stuck at home and looking for ways to mix up your remote work routine. Now that you’re no longer commuting, are you giving your podcasts less love/listens? There are so many great discussions to catch up on – including this week’s newest episode! (Find us and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, or stream through the episode linked below.)

Tuning in this week is sure to help in the following ways:

  • Simulate the ambient workplace banter you’re missing these days
  • Give your eyes a chance to recover from all the screen time
  • Give you some insight into how others are using Meraki APIs to add value and new experiences to the Meraki platform! 

In this week’s Meraki Unboxed Podcast, Episode 12 we’re talking with yet another technology partner that has built a turnkey solution on top of the Meraki API services: Splash Access. Splash Access has been building Cisco Meraki captive portals for almost 7 years – taking advantage of our longest standing API service for captive portal development.

We’ve all interacted with a captive portal in some form or another (guest Wi-Fi at the airport, hotels, coffee shops, or our corporate networks) and we might feel like we’ve heard it all already: how to use captive portals to monetize Wi-Fi, drive customer engagement programs, use splash pages for advertising or even integrating social media initiatives, etc. etc. Splash Access has a new story to tell on this episode: solving the problem of seamlessly and securely getting IoT devices onto the network, with the right policies and rules applied. 

So, how did a captive portal builder solve onboarding for devices that cannot access a captive portal? Tune in to learn how Splash Access used Cisco Meraki APIs to solve this problem from higher education to shared working spaces, retail, tenant blocks, and within large corporations.

As always, we are thrilled to showcase innovative solutions like this from our technology partners – enabled through the Meraki APIs. There is so much potential to unlock by integrating and building off of Meraki technologies – we’re excited to see what Splash Access and others come up with next! Listen in for a teaser ;)

“We try and take advantage of all the APIs that we are given. This is the exciting thing with working with Meraki – every month there’s new APIs coming onboard, and we look at it as an opportunity every time an API comes out – how can we add this value to what we’re doing and put it into our platform?” – Tim Ormrod, Splash Access

 

Learn more about the Splash Access solution on the Meraki Marketplace!

 

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Healthy relationships are built on visibility

Wi-Fi 6 is designed to support a modern world of hyper-connectivity. While exciting, this digital world will also see more challenges such as high client density, IoT everywhere, and more high-bandwidth requirements. This leads to increasing demands on the network, and organizations relying on connectivity more than ever before. One of the most important challenges a network faces is maintaining the relationship between the clients and the wireless network. 

Many will agree that a great relationship is built on a strong foundation. For the wireless network, this foundation might be careful capacity planning and a proper site survey. But, even with a strong foundation, relationships between wireless clients and the network can hit rough patches. Without knowing the root-cause of the problem, it can be hard to improve that relationship. 

Many wireless network engineers today spend at least a day every week troubleshooting Wi-Fi. This can be due to lack of visibility, increased network complexity, and human error. Time spent troubleshooting is a missed opportunity, as those countless hours could have been spent transitioning IT to meet modern organizational needs.

Visibility beyond wireless

This week, we are adding new capabilities and visibility to the Meraki dashboard to help simplify troubleshooting. Users can now pinpoint issues more quickly, and ensure excellent connectivity for clients. These updates are designed to not only provide insights about the health of Wi-Fi clients, but also to provide end-to-end visibility. Enhanced visibility will now allow for immediate identification of whether wireless is problematic, or if, for example, an upstream device is misconfigured.

Cisco research reveals that 63% of users blame the wireless network for problems, while the issue could be elsewhere. Now, network admins can gain insight and focus precious time on the actual root cause.

Once problematic clients or access points are identified, new snapshots are available to help quickly remedy the root cause. Users can now view wireless health metrics as they navigate through their dashboard. From an individual client’s page, a user can immediately assess the health of that specific client.

Below is an example of how to troubleshoot a troublesome wireless client with Meraki:

The end-to-end visibility snapshot, health snapshots for individual access points and clients, as well as updated event logs are all available today for Meraki Wireless users. These new metrics and capabilities, along with the centralized Wireless Health engine make the process of optimizing connectivity simple. 

To learn more about these new capabilities join an upcoming wireless webinar.