Archive for September, 2021

Use Data to Define Your Network with Meraki Health

Lately when talking to customers, I’m hearing a dominant theme emerge. IT teams are continually pushed by the business to do new things in new ways, to deliver new experiences for employees and customers. But for even the most sophisticated teams, they feel like they’re flying blind. 

Sound familiar? Even when teams have the capacity, the know-how, and the full support of their organizations, these networking all-stars are operating with some serious blind spots. They don’t have enough context to properly diagnose and remediate issues, and when it comes to planning for future improvements, there’s no clear road map or data to guide them. The path forward might as well say, “here be dragons.” 

At Cisco Meraki, we see an opportunity to remove these blinders and build more intelligent, data-defined networks that give CIOs the power to quickly adapt to change, rapidly accelerate growth, and effectively plan for the future. We’re transforming the data we capture from over 23 billion weekly interactions across the Meraki platform into meaningful context and trusted recommendations for our customers. 

Today, I’m excited to introduce three new AI- and data-powered Meraki Health capabilities that will help our customers proactively troubleshoot their networks, automate end-to-end network operations, and start using hard data to plan for the future of their architectures. These powerful new tools are available in beta today.

Exclusive partnership with Apple

Through an exclusive partnership between Cisco and Apple, Meraki networks can now use unique device-level details to identify connection problems, quantify the impact, and highlight the root cause, all to keep hybrid workplaces running smoothly. This level of detail provides unmatched visibility into the full timeline of connectivity issues and helps pinpoint device-specific challenges quickly and easily. 

Automated root cause analysis

Combining deep insight into issues impacting your network with rich context about how those issues are affecting performance, the new Meraki root cause analysis augments our existing Smart Thresholds to help admins identify, remediate, and prevent network issues at scale. Within the timeline view of the Meraki dashboard, you’ll see detailed impact, evidence, and recommended actions to address everything from sticky client and coverage hole identification to specific performance gaps in SaaS web applications.

Recommendations based on networks like yours 

Finally, we’re giving network architects objective, data-driven recommendations for ways to improve performance and capacity based on observations derived from over 3.4M unique networks on the Meraki platform. From Wi-Fi 6 readiness to specific broadcast optimizations, these recommendations have the potential to help customers reduce latency by 40% or more.

Current Meraki customers can access the Meraki Health beta today by contacting your account teams. Looking to get started building your own data-driven network? Sign up for a demo of the Meraki platform or register for the upcoming Meraki Quarterly.

Complexity, Connectivity, and Capacity: Putting Network Data to Work

Over the next decade, the complexity and load placed upon enterprise networks will rapidly outpace our ability to manage them effectively. This will constrain business growth, create performance bottlenecks, and undermine the experiences network teams are working to deliver. 

The leading indicators of this crisis are easy to measure. In the Cisco 2021 Global Networking Trends Report, a survey of over 600 enterprise networks found an average of 4,400 monthly events impacting wireless networks. As organizations rush to enable a hybrid workforce, we expect to see that flood of issues rapidly increase. 

For hybrid organizations, connectivity is a core network service, and interruptions caused by authentication, DHCP, DNS, and other errors can’t be allowed to grind the business to a halt. But when IT spends the majority of its time on troubleshooting hundreds of events a day, it’s impossible to find time to do the important work needed to drive business growth. The capacity of the team—and the network they support—suffers as a result. 

The coming storm: preparing for the Great Resignation

Compounding these capacity challenges is the looming threat of the Great Resignation, the fear that a newly empowered remote workforce will pick up sticks and seek greener career grass. In another 2021 survey, Enterprise Strategy Group found that 55% of IT leaders indicated that their biggest skill gaps were in network architecture, administration, and planning. That’s a capacity problem that’s very hard to remediate. 

To break this bottleneck and avoid the single points of failure that threaten network resilience, IT teams need better tools to help them adapt faster, troubleshoot with more precision, and free up time to properly plan for future capacity needs. 

Putting network data to work for customers

At Cisco Meraki, we see a future where intelligent, data-defined networks give CIOs the power to readily adapt to change, effectively increase capacity, and find better ways to plan for the future. This is at the heart of a data-defined network, an architecture that not only can quantify the impact of an event, but provides precise evidence about the root cause and quickly points toward a recommended remediation. 

There are three key elements that can unlock these kinds of data-driven improvements:

  • Using data to drive outcomes. Going beyond basic analytics and insight, any investment in AI and ML must come in the service of a desirable customer outcome. 
  • Depth and breadth of data. When it comes to making relevant, contextual recommendations, more data beats a better model every day of the week. The best platforms can learn from data captured not just from your network, but from millions of other networks like yours. That breadth and depth is critical to informing effective decisions. 
  • Upholding trust. Having the data and the models is not sufficient. A data-defined platform must overdeliver on its ability to protect and govern the data it captures, continually improve the quality of its recommendations, and always keep control in the customers’ hands. Think autonomous, not 100% automated. 

We’ll be talking more about our outcome-focused approach to AI and ML systems at Meraki in the coming months. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you in the Meraki Community about which network challenges are impacting your team’s capacity and how more intelligent services might help define the future of your network.

Optimizing Cybersecurity and Physical Security through Automation

As IoT integrations and cloud-connected technologies continue to influence the security landscape, businesses are quickly realizing they can optimize operations that leverage the wealth of data those systems provide. With more information at their disposal than ever before, cybersecurity and physical security teams have the opportunity to improve security posturing, but only if that data is used effectively. Here are five ways teams can utilize automation to streamline cybersecurity and physical security systems and business processes.

Automatic software updates

Updating commercial security system software is often time-consuming (not to mention expensive). However, over-the-air (OTA) software updates for cloud-based platforms automatically run as soon as they are available. This means businesses get the most up-to-date technology without the hassle and cost of on-site maintenance. Plus, OTA updates mean a faster, more efficient upgrade process that minimizes downtime, keeping systems protected from the latest threats and vulnerabilities. 

Streamlined monitoring and detection 

Utilize automated notifications and breach detection software across cybersecurity and physical security platforms to streamline monitoring for any number of locations. Many cloud-based video surveillance cameras, access control systems, and cybersecurity scanning tools feature automatic breach detection and notification systems that alert teams to any potential issues without the need to monitor 24/7. This technology can also triage alerts to the correct personnel automatically, saving time in critical moments. It’s important to note that remote access to data and controls is essential for optimizing the response to security alerts.

Scaling security processes

Rolling out enterprise-grade and commercial security systems and processes to new locations previously involved hiring a brand-new team and providing extensive training. Now, automated security processes can easily be transferred to new buildings and sites in a matter of clicks, without additional personnel. Furthermore, cloud-based platforms are ideal for maximizing scalability thanks to unlimited data storage and greater flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.

Business intelligence and predictive analytics

With access to consolidated cybersecurity and physical security data from previously disparate systems, teams have almost limitless potential to make operations more efficient and secure. By ingesting that data into powerful business analytics and intelligence tools, security teams can use endpoint and AI analytics to inform decision making across the entire business. For example, smart AI workplace platforms can use real-time location data, sensors, cameras, and access information to improve space utilization, manage hybrid offices, and track occupancy. This allows teams to identify and address concerns earlier, before they become a problem.

Encryption, compliance, and auditing

Proactive security needs to be adaptable and agile, making systems that automate day-to-day operations essential to successful cybersecurity and physical security convergence. Automated systems use security data to perform tasks, including identifying noncompliance, generating regular system audits, monitoring networks for malicious activity, and eliminating redundancies. Taking advantage of these automations not only optimizes business processes, it also reduces risk and liability across the organization.

To learn more about how to improve your security posture with cloud-based technology, join us for the final installment of our three-part webinar series featuring expert-led discussions on emerging security strategies. If you missed previous sessions, watch part one and part two on demand.