Archive for April, 2020

The Next Generation Meraki Mobile Experience

One of the fundamental tenets of a cloud offering is the ability to access the cloud from anywhere, at any time. When you put network management in the cloud, like Meraki has, the benefits of “anywhere, anytime” become even more apparent. From deploying new gear, to troubleshooting an offline MX Security Appliance, to applying group policies –  being able to solve problems on the network anywhere, anytime has helped our customers respond quicker, and be more effective at their jobs. Enabling remote admins has been especially critical as we navigate through these difficult times! 

But there’s been a catch: while you can manage Meraki from anywhere, your choices have been to use your laptop/desktop, or to access the dashboard from a mobile browser (or a previous version of our initial, more limited Meraki app). Most prefer to dive into the dashboard from a fullscreen, high resolution, computer or laptop experience. However, we’ve pulled the data and we see about 200,000 page views coming from mobile devices per week. This tells us that at some point, you’re likely to pull out your phone to try to fix or check something on the network. We believe you deserve a best in class mobile experience for that!

We have focused on building out new features that simplify work streams and tasks for the majority of our customers. We are happy to announce that we have an updated beta experience for customers and partners to start using today for iOS and Android!

We are really excited for folks to try these new features and experience, including:

  • A complete UX / navigation redesign
  • Biometric authentication (Face ID, Touch ID)
  • Easily update switch port configurations

Call for Feedback

We’re looking for feedback on the updated experience and ideas for future features. If you have a specific use case you are hoping to be able to handle from your mobile device, or a feature that’s missing that would unlock a new workflow for you, let us know! 

Please submit a wish from directly in the app via Settings >  Make a wish. We really do read each and every one!

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FCC Approval for 6GHz Wi-Fi

Whether you’re working from home, or the office, the use of Wi-Fi continues to expand. Internet traffic is rising, with 50% increases seen in global regions, cities, as well as 228% growth of VoIP and video use, with much of that traffic going over Wi-Fi. Our connected world and economy is clearly relying heavily on Wi-Fi technology. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Wi-Fi was already becoming bogged-down with the increase of mobile devices, IoT, new applications like 4K video and VR/AR. Wi-Fi 6 was released to help satisfy the needs of the hungry Wi-Fi ecosystem, but the growth of wireless always continues to outpace whatever is capacity gains are invented.

Source: Cisco Annual Internet Report, 2018–2023

Thank you to the FCC

Today, on April 23rd, the FCC Commission voted to approve 1,200MHz of additional spectrum to Wi-Fi. The information superhighway is getting supercharged with a whole host of additional high-speed lanes. As Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, mentions

“[The 6GHz band] would effectively increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi almost by a factor of five”

With these new approvals, Cisco Meraki is excited to help build the internet of the future. In fact, when I was interviewing for the role that I currently hold, our SVP & GM Todd Nightingale asked me what got me excited about Wi-Fi. I told him: ‘6 Ghz’. This was back in Nov 2018 and Ajit Pai had just announced his commitment to 6GHz. Fast forward and here we are, it is real!

Wi-Fi 6’s growth into the 6 GHz spectrum is a game-changer for two reasons – the availability of the additional channels and the ability to finally use 160Mhz for high bandwidth applications like AR and VR. 6GHz provides enormous opportunities to build new applications and experiences for both consumers and businesses. 

In addition to new applications, newly available channels will translate to less RF issues and simplicity of maintenance. At Meraki, we look forward to supporting networks as they see significant increases in IoT, wearables, industrial sensors, 4K/8K video, critical telehealth, and remote learning in the coming years.

Learn more 

For more information about our Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ access points, read more here.

Accelerating Your Wireless WAN rollout with Meraki Dashboard API

In adopting digital transformation, businesses increasingly rely on connecting cloud-specific services. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated, and in many cases, speed this adoption. By leveraging technology, businesses are likely to continue looking for ways to improve efficiency, and reduce costs, as they navigate these difficult times. 

Cisco Meraki Cellular Gateway (MG) is built to address the growing demand for operational reliability and business continuity across industries. MG allows for better performance, quick provisioning, high availability, and redundancy in providing cellular wireless WAN connectivity to geographically dispersed networks. 

As businesses are starting to take advantage of the advancements in cellular technology, we’re empowering them to be scalable. The shift towards the distributed application model, workforces, and software-defined technologies is leading to the increased need for API access to the network. The good news is that MG can be configured and managed using the Meraki Dashboard API

 

What can the Meraki API do for your cellular WAN connectivity?

Through automation and integrations, the Meraki Dashboard API for MG enables scale, growth, and future-proofing. 

Automation 

IT teams can add new organizations, administrators, cellular networks, and MG devices across thousands of locations in minutes with an automation script. By automating network provisioning and bulk configurations, IT teams can minimize manual and routine tasks, freeing up time to work on more important things such as optimizing for better performance or developing modern apps. The Meraki Dashboard API also offers flexibility in cloning sites or developing templates to help you get MGs deployed easily.

 

 

Much of configuration-related set up such as DHCP, LAN, port forwarding rules, subnet pool, and uplink settings, entails repetitive tasks and is prone to human error. Network administrators spend a lot of time on these repetitive configuration and monitoring tasks that can be automated and made error-free using APIs. With MG, customers can do so via APIs to avoid manual error and service downtime—significantly reducing the management workload. 

With the Meraki Dashboard API, one of our retail customers was able to rapidly automate deployment and provisioning at more than 2000 distributed locations nationwide. The resulting streamlined operations reduced overhead and costs for them. 

 

Integration and future-proofing

The potential of the Meraki Dashboard API goes beyond faster, seamless, and cost-effective automation. Meraki API services are easy to use, easy to train staff to program with, and ripe for technology partners to continue to build native integrations on top of. For growing businesses, using these API services can significantly increase speed-to-market. 

The Cisco Meraki Dashboard API is a RESTful API that uses HTTPS requests to a URL and JSON as a human-readable format. So, what does this mean for our customers? This higher software programmability using structured network data makes it easier to integrate with business logic systems. When building APIs, they can choose from a larger pool of skilled resources. Businesses can build their dashboard for store managers or specific use cases, allowing them to quickly add new services. 

 

Visibility

Lack of end-to-end visibility is problematic when troubleshooting network issues such as high latency and jitter. By monitoring the cellular connectivity and signal strength of MG devices through APIs, IT teams can save hours of troubleshooting. Meraki APIs make our platform extensible and allow you to be agile in responding to quickly changing business needs. Meraki offers a comprehensive platform that complements out-of-the-box management and analytics for Wireless WAN deployments with the integrations and solutions powered by Meraki APIs. 

The access to the Meraki Dashboard API for MG, your cloud-managed cellular solution, is available at no additional cost. 

Experience the Meraki Cellular Gateway in action with a  free trial and check out the Cisco Meraki Developer Hub to preview API options, today. 

 

Helping Healthcare Connect In Challenging Times

To say that times are challenging hardly captures the severity of circumstances many are facing today. First and foremost, we want to express our deepest gratitude to healthcare providers, essential workers, and the IT staff who are laboring tirelessly to ensure that hospitals, businesses, and educators continue to operate and connect in ways that keep our modern life moored.

If you manage (or partner with) IT at a healthcare facility, you’re probably facing acute challenges: you are being asked to rapidly deploy tens or hundreds of COVID-19 testing sites, triage centers, and field hospitals in unconventional locations that may not even be equipped for Wi-Fi. Many are overseeing an unprecedented, wide scale telemedicine rollout so that doctors and nurses can deliver care from their homes. There may also be uncharted ways in which you are trying to use technology to reduce staff exposure to infection, as well as preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line staff. 

 

Cisco Meraki wants to help. Here’s how we can:

 

90-Day Free Trials for all Healthcare Customers and Next-Day Delivery

In an effort to help our global community respond to this pandemic, we are offering 90-day free trials of up to 20 pieces of Meraki equipment to healthcare organizations. This is a global offer, and we hope that getting our gear where it’s needed most with minimal red tape will provide some relief and significant time savings.

For healthcare organizations in the United States, we can also provide next-day delivery for in-stock gear. This rapid fulfillment can mean the difference between successfully managing an emergency expansion of medical services and missing a critical time window to prevent bottlenecks and delays.

 

Rapid deployment of testing sites, field hospitals, and triage centers.

If you are trying to get one, ten, hundreds, or even thousands of remote sites securely online in minutes, our MX Security & SD-WAN Appliances can help. Using a feature called configuration templates, the time it takes to configure one MX appliance is nearly the same as the time needed to configure one thousand. This means you can deploy and configure network and security settings for thousands of remote sites with minimal effort or time spent.

 

Deploying thousands of MX Appliances is simple using configuration templates.

 

Our MX Appliances can also deliver:

 

  • Zero-touch provisioning out of the box, meaning the gear can be remotely pre-configured through your dashboard before ever arriving onsite
  • Comprehensive, enterprise-grade security 
  • Failover links (including cellular LTE), to maximize uptime in locations experiencing spotty wired connectivity
  • Secure VPN to extend resources from permanent to temporary locations in only 3 clicks
  • Integrated Wi-Fi, which allows remote staff to connect to the same wireless network using the same authentication they’re accustomed to at permanent  locations

 

All of this means you can have a single-box solution for Wi-Fi, security, and secure tunneling back to campus hospitals or main offices. Meraki gear can be brought online in minutes, with minimal staff who do not need any formal training — they only need access to power and Ethernet.

If you need to support more than 50 wireless clients, our auto-meshing MR Access Points (APs) can work with our MX Appliances. And to ensure availability in the absence of a wired uplink, our MG Cellular Gateways seamlessly transpose a wireless cellular signal to wired Ethernet for primary or failover connectivity. This means you can maintain a connection to the internet anywhere there is a cellular signal, so long as your Meraki equipment can connect to power. 

 

Wide scale delivery of telemedicine

Allowing doctors and nurses to securely conduct virtual appointments — possibly from their homes — is another key challenge that IT teams are being asked to solve. Once again, Meraki MX Appliances can be drafted for duty here, as well as their more compact cousins: the Z3 and Z3C teleworker appliances. The Z3 and Z3C are designed for home office use, and are also configurable at scale in only a few steps using our configuration template feature.

Our Z3 and Z3Cs are also notable because:

 

  • Zero onsite IT support is required to bring these devices online — someone simply needs to plug them in and they’ll automatically come online
  • The same easy, intuitive VPN found in our MX Appliances can be leveraged to establish secure remote connectivity to patient health records and other hospital resources 
  • With integrated wireless, these devices enable telemedics to connect to their organization’s Wi-Fi networks using the same authentication they are accustomed to in their hospital or clinic settings
  • They allow plug-in accessories, such as VoIP telephones often used in hospitals, to extend home office functionality
  • Proactive monitoring and prioritization of critical applications, like videoconferencing, can easily be configured to help ensure quality of service

 

Meraki wireless APs can also double as VPN endpoints by leveraging their built-in teleworker VPN functionality, offering additional flexibility with deployment options. 

 

Remote Visual Patient Monitoring with MV Smart Cameras

Technology is being deployed in new, sometimes uncharted ways to support efforts to reduce staff exposure to infection and to preserve protective equipment like masks. Meraki MV Smart Cameras offer a scalable, remote visual patient monitoring solutionthat enables clinicians to continuously monitor up to 16 patients at a time on one video wall. This helps scale resources, and protects staff, without sacrificing patient care. Reducing the number of in-person, patient room entries by nurses also preserves critical PPE. Secure and simple to deploy, Meraki Smart Cameras can be installed in minutes with no additional infrastructure needed beyond the camera. A wireless deployment option eliminates the need to run Ethernet cabling, and two-way communication can be added when coupled with a Cisco collaboration solution, like an IP phone.

Meraki MV Smart Camera video walls are highly customizable and allow continuous monitoring.

 

How to reach us

These are only a few examples of how Meraki can assist with today’s challenging healthcare scenarios. We want to help you enable your organization to focus on delivering the highest level of care and treatment possible to those in need. Please check out our 45-minute Healthcare webinar to learn more about our special offers for healthcare customers and how we can provide support for these challenging scenarios. Or contact us if you have immediate deployment needs—we’re here to help.

 

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MV, Now with RTSP!

Yes, you read that correctly. MV smart cameras now support RTSP. RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) is a protocol that allows a third party system to access the video stream directly from the camera. Now, you may be thinking, “But why? MV smart cameras already have so many great features that make it easy for me to do what I need to do!” If you are, thank you! We think you’re right. 

 

A Focus on Solving Business Problems

 

Almost three years ago, we published a blog post called “APIs for Meraki MV Cameras” in response to the many requests for camera APIs. An overwhelming number were driven not by a desire for APIs, but by the need to solve a business problem. These needs fell into a few categories: 

  • Off camera storage for longer retention or offsite backup
  • Integration to provide context into business systems, or other physical security solutions
  • Analytics

In the months following, we released new functionality that addresses many of these needs without sacrificing simplicity, or ease of use. To meet the need for longer retention or offsite backup, we introduced Cloud Archive with simple, one-click provisioning. The Snapshot and Video Link APIs let customers easily integrate into access control systems like Kisi, shown below, or point of sale platforms to provide visual context to events.

The Snapshot API helps integrate MV Smart Cameras with Kisi Access Control.

The third category, analytics, is one of the most exciting areas of video. Analytics provide insight into processes and help organizations better understand what is happening within their space. MV cameras have always analyzed motion, and this was the basis of our first analytics, motion heatmaps. The second generation of cameras introduced machine learning based computer vision for object detection, specifically for detection of people and vehicles.

This was followed by the launch of the MV Sense API, which provides access to all this detection data in real time. When these various MV APIs are combined, it enables custom or advanced analytics capabilities that range from other types of object detection, to text recognition, and sentiment analysis (emotions or demographics). 

Person Detection on MV Smart Cameras

 

The Best of Both Worlds

 

By building solutions to solve customer problems, and keeping video within the Meraki ecosystem, we are helping to ensure they are not held back by their video data. It means that users do not have to watch countless hours of footage to investigate an incident, or need to be data scientists to gain insight from video analytics. While we have come a long way since launch, there are a few unique use cases that call for solutions outside of the Meraki ecosystem. 

An example of this are customers with large-scale deployments of legacy cameras. Previously, these customers would have no choice but to operate two viewing systems (a legacy VMS and the Meraki dashboard) in tandem as they worked to replace their old cameras with Meraki cameras. Now, RTSP lets them view video from Meraki MV cameras in their old VMS platform until all legacy cameras are replaced, and they can switch over to viewing everything in the Meraki dashboard. Another example is a public viewing monitor, or PVM, placed at a store entrance. With a PVM, there is no need to interact with the video in any manner other than static, live viewing, and RTSP fills this need.

Enabling RTSP on a Meraki MV Smart Camera

Finally, RTSP will enable access to the video stream for particularly niche analytics that simply cannot be met using the MV Sense and Snapshot APIs. This could be an organization with an existing analytics solution that relies on a traditional camera architecture.

By enabling access to RTSP, MV smart cameras are now available to customers who previously had no path forward with MV. These customers can benefit from the core value of MV smart cameras – simple architecture and cloud management through the Meraki dashboard – and use RTSP when needed to meet their other needs.

 

What Do You Think About RTSP?

 

RTSP is available now, for all second generation MV smart cameras (models ending in 2). For more information on how it works, check out the documentation. Or, head on over to the Meraki Community to join the discussion. We’d love to hear your thoughts on RTSP, and if it may be beneficial to your use case. Let us know what you think!

Meraki Access Points are now Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™

As we enter the middle of 2020, the year is shaping up to be an interesting one for Wi-Fi. With the explosion in remote work, we have seen increases in both video collaboration and Wi-Fi calling. On April 1st, AT&T saw an increase of 105% above average Wi-Fi calling. WPA3, the next generation of Wi-Fi security, is rolling out to deliver better encryption for sensitive data. Wi-Fi 6 continues to proliferate as new Wi-Fi 6 clients, such as the 2020 iPad Pro, enter the market.

To take full advantage of the new Wi-Fi trends and new clients in 2020, a Wi-Fi 6 network infrastructure needs to be in place. Deploying Wi-Fi 6 access points will ensure 802.11ax clients experience high-quality and low-latency performance.


Official Wi-Fi 6 certification

The MR36, MR46, and MR56 have now received official certification status for Wi-Fi 6 from the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Whether you are on a call or video conference, Wi-Fi 6 can help enable high levels of efficiency and low latency. OFDMA and MU-MIMO in both the uplink and downlink direction help support a multitude of devices with up to 75% lower latency. While working from home over a secure Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access point, you can experience seamless video conferencing or VoIP calls, while your family watches Netflix in the next room. Hospitals and financial services organizations can offer critical connectivity while supporting the highest security standards, with WPA3.

Learn more

To hear more about recent Meraki Wi-Fi updates, listen in to episode 22 of Meraki Unboxed, which discusses:

  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ 
  • Remote work & organizational agility
  • Meraki health beyond wireless
  • Wi-Fi 6 clients
  • Roadmap sneak peeks

Cisco Meraki continues to deliver market-leading Wi-Fi to the Cisco portfolio. Cisco has been named a leader in the September 2019 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure. To learn more about the newest Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access points, please visit our What’s New page.

 

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