Think back to the last time you stayed overnight or attended a conference at a major hotel or hospitality provider. Chances are your hotel room had fresh linens, the shower had hot water, the on-site restaurant had good food, and in general, you felt safe during your stay. This is the typical experience that we’ve come to expect from a hospitality provider.
Challenges with hotel operations
Providing a pleasant and comfortable stay, however, is no simple feat. The equipment used to do the laundry, heat the water, and air condition the building is generally pushed to its limits and operates in harsh environments. This creates an assortment of challenges that facility managers face on a daily basis to ensure a quality experience for guests.
Let’s take a look at a day in the life of Jared, Director of Hotel Operations at a major hospitality provider, and some of the challenges he and his team face.
A day riddled with problems
On his way to work, Jared learns that two of his team members are out sick, so it’s all hands on deck, including his, to support maintenance requests for the day.
When he first arrives, Jared discovers guests have been complaining their rooms were too hot overnight. As it turns out, extreme humidity levels caused a refrigerant leak with one of the chillers. As Jared finishes fixing the leak, a coworker informs him that the laundry hopper is clogged.
In fear of running out of fresh linens, Jared hurries over to fix the clog. He then makes his way up to the hotel lobby, where a guest has reported that their luggage is missing. Jared heads to the security room and spends over an hour sifting through video footage to find a video clip to send to the police.
There has to be a better way!
After what appears to be a never-ending day, Jared thinks to himself that there has to be a more efficient process to manage the operations of the hotel. The challenge is, he has limited visibility into hotel operations, so he often doesn’t know about issues until they become big problems.
He contacts his hotel service provider and learns that he can upgrade the facility to a smart hotel by installing smart cameras and sensors. This will enable him to be more proactive in addressing operational issues by providing real-time alerts and insights when things go wrong.
Transforming operations with smart technology
Excited about the benefits of smart spaces technology, Jared deploys sensors and smart cameras throughout the facility.
Temperature, humidity, and air quality sensors are integrated with the HVAC system to automatically adjust levels to protect equipment. Water leak sensors are placed under the chillers to send alerts anytime a leak is detected. Smart cameras are not only placed throughout the facility to help speed up security investigations, but also placed near laundry hoppers, where analytics can proactively detect improper loading and prevent jams. Lastly, smart automation buttons are placed around the hotel so staff members can generate service tickets any time additional issues arise.
Time to focus on improving the guest experience
After implementation, hotel operations have been running much more smoothly. Jared now has visibility into all of the facility environments and can proactively plan for required maintenance.
This approach is saving the hotel significant costs by reducing the amount of service calls, and has transitioned Jared and his team’s role from being firefighters into one in which they can focus their efforts on improving guest and hotel experiences.
Remember the Mayan calendar? You know, the one that predicted the end of the world? Well, that was supposed to happen on December 21, 2012. As it turns out, Meraki was acquired by Cisco on the eve of the supposed apocalypse and ironically, it represents a rebirth.
In the nearly ten years since acquisition, much has changed with Meraki.
Our advanced hybrid cloud has scaled to enable over 11 million online Meraki devices
The quest to conquer complexity
What hasn’t changed since joining Cisco is our goal to help you navigate challenging technology scenarios. We’ve always prioritized the end user experience and put stock in how it feels to manage a Meraki network. The primary fruit of that labor is the Meraki dashboard, our unique cloud management interface that gives you control over your entire network stack, free of command line interface. Additionally, the dashboard enables:
Decentralized management of huge, distributed networks
Remote troubleshooting and issue resolution
That super-cool feeling as you oversee your global deployment and implement changes in real time
But if you’re an experienced Meraki operator, you already know this! Let’s talk about what’s next, and our vision for the dashboard of the future.
Dashboard has been workin’ out
We’re updating the look and feel of the Meraki dashboard, making the interface more consistent and accessible to all users.
Along with that, modernized code and tooling will allow us to release and iterate more quickly. We’ll deliver more value to customers, faster. All of this will make it easier to integrate with other Cisco products.
This is the beginning of a journey to transform the dashboard into an even more powerful tool to manage your hybrid enterprise. We’re driving toward a future where every Meraki cloud-managed network has these features:
Intent-based information architecture
Surfaced and actionable alerts
Automation and mobile workflows
Streamlined integrations with even more Cisco technologies
And everyone’s most-asked-for feature: dark mode
We need YOU
The network management experience has always been our primary focus, and this is reflected in the way it feels to manage a Meraki network. We don’t want these changes to be arbitrary. Instead, we hope they transform the way you manage your Meraki networks.
Opt in! The Early Access page is available to admins in the navigation menu by going to Organization > Configure > Early Access
Tell us what you think—provide feedback using the beta feedback tool, which can be found on the right side of the screen once you opt in
If you’re new to Meraki, check out the instant demo to get a feel for the new management experience
This article was contributed by PlaceOS, a Meraki technology partner.
There are numerous challenges that you need to overcome to meet sustainability targets in your building. This can include reducing the building’s carbon footprint, fixing underutilization, and improving technology efficiency.
While these challenges can feel daunting, new technology approaches to sustainable building operations can make a big difference. Here are the steps you can take to better understand your building and implement smart spaces technology that will help you achieve sustainability targets while creating elevated experiences for people on-site.
Assess challenges and make improvements
Organizations can start by figuring out where they currently stand. This could mean hiring an energy engineer or consultant to inspect buildings, go through boiler rooms, check records, and leverage analytics to gain data and insights on building operations.
The next step is to implement changes to make improvements based on the challenges identified from inspections and analyses. This might include installing more energy-efficient technology, retrofitting the building with composite materials to reduce reliance on HVAC systems and better regulate temperature, or implementing technology solutions that can improve efficiency through integration and automation.
Achieve more through technology
While upgrading cladding and HVAC requires considerable investment, technology solutions can offer a lower barrier to entry for more sustainable buildings while also improving building experience.
By performing an audit of existing technology and scoping out user experience and efficiency outcomes you can better see which data sources can be used to provide context-aware information. This can in turn be used to trigger automated actions during the user journey.
Create elevated experiences
Once you’ve identified data sources that can be used for automation, the last step is to pair that data with smart spaces technology that can help you achieve sustainability targets while creating better experiences.
For example, occupancy-driven room automation leverages smart cameras and/or sensors to detect occupancy and then automatically adjusts environmental conditions based on user experience goals or efficiency targets. Here’s how it works:
When a meeting room is booked, automatically turn on HVAC, lighting, and A/V five minutes prior to the meeting start time
If no one turns up to the meeting after ten minutes, turn HVAC, lighting, and A/V off
By integrating information from disparate systems, occupancy-driven room automation offers an elevated user experience for people on-site while improving overall building efficiency. Visit the Meraki Marketplace to learn more about PlaceOS and request a demo.
In 2001, I started a job as a systems engineer at a small technology startup based in Santa Barbara, CA. It was the first time in my relatively young career that I would be expected to travel regularly, and work—when not traveling—from a small home office in Denver, CO. Little did I know that this would mark the beginning of a decades long journey that would put me in a position to fully appreciate the differences between remote work and work from home.
As we all know, there are countless benefits to working in a centralized office environment. Over the years, me and many of my ‘work-from-home’ colleagues would regularly drop in at corporate offices to maintain relationships, tap into office culture, and engage in necessary company activities. But the recent global pandemic has vividly illustrated that working from home is not the same thing as remote work.
Yes, it’s a nuance that requires a bit of explanation. As I’ve shared, working from home is something I’ve been doing for about two decades, but it was only recently, in the last three years, that I’ve begun a transition to remote work. My transition started with the personal preference of working on Apple products, and my employer providing security for devices like personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It is this focus on device security from IT leaders that shows the gaps in typical work-from-home situations.
The home is assumed to be a predictable environment that is free from typical issues found in open, shared environments like airports, retail shops, and office environments. Homes often have relatively small numbers of devices attached to wired and wireless networks competing for bandwidth on a consumer-grade, best-effort connection. In fact, home Wi-Fi devices are typically designed for rapid set-up, enabling consumers to easily connect devices and stream content, like Netflix eliminating the complex configuration of device or network security to protect against cyber criminals. What might be most unique about home environments is that it’s typically assumed those devices and content are to be trusted. Evidence? When was the last time you updated your home Wi-Fi password or malware protection application? Enterprises run regular updates—sometimes daily—to security and management policies.
The traditional enterprise office is much more complex, with literally hundreds or thousands of employees, devices, and shared productivity tools (printers, IP phones, etc.) competing for airtime. But what truly makes the two environments different is the IT decision maker’s focus on security, application-level performance, and predictable connectivity.
To give you a sense of what motivates an IT planner’s thinking, consider the following in reference to small- and medium-sized businesses. According to Safety Detectives, over 60% of cyber attacks target small businesses (<1,000 employees), and when they do get attacked, 61% are out of business within six months. How’s that for motivation? Before the global pandemic, <5% of the U.S. workforce worked from home regularly. Arguably, one of the many reasons is because CIOs and IT managers believe they can administer and enforce device and network security policies easier in a traditional office environment.
Conventional wisdom says it is easier to manage one environment of 1,000 employees, their devices, security, and performance needs than it is to manage 1,000 remote work environments. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, cloud IT technologies and the Meraki way of simplifying connectivity, security, device, and application performance management, makes scaling remote work possible for any number of work environments, irrespective of whether employees are in conventional offices or remote locations, even if that happens to be someone’s home.
Browse the Meraki Remote Work web page and you’ll learn why remote work solutions provide greater business application performance, enterprise class security, mobility, device management, and reliable, assured connectivity that is not possible in typical work-from-home environments.
Cloud-managed networking has emerged as a critical solution for IT leaders who need a network that offers scale, security, and intelligence while upleveling work experiences for employees both on or off-site. Cloud-managed networking offers a variety of tech solutions for unparalleled efficiency and scalability beyond just the ability to access and control your network from anywhere—your home office, on the road, or even poolside.
Read on to discover why enterprises seeking to capitalize on the latest tech advancements—from security to IoT—are migrating to a cloud-managed network model.
What is cloud-managed networking and how does it work?
When your network is managed over the cloud it means that the management and provisioning of your network devices—as well as the storage and handling of much of your data—is done over third-party servers.
Network administrators access these servers via a web-based application or dashboard where they can view and manage all of their network devices in one place. They can also access a suite of applications or even build bespoke applications to run on their cloud-managed networks. These applications enable a myriad of use cases—such as the ability to provide guest Wi-Fi, monitor usage, leverage IoT devices, and more.
How is a cloud-managed network structured?
Essentially, there are three layers of a cloud-managed network:
Software layer—This is where applications that add value to your cloud-based network live. These can be third-party applications or ones your team develops themselves for various use cases.
Cloud layer—Devices and software meet in the middle on a unified cloud-based platform. Users access this platform via a dashboard application that enables them to manage their devices and use applications from the software layer.
Device layer—These are the devices that make up your enterprise network across all locations globally. This includes remote worker devices accessing the cloud network over VPN.
What are the benefits of a cloud-managed network vs. a traditional network?
Easier to onboard, manage, and scale from day one
One of the biggest benefits of managing your network through the cloud is the ability to connect your existing high-performing hardware to a more flexible, scalable platform with the visibility and control you need to manage sites remotely.
Take as an example that you want to set up a field office in a remote location with limited IT support. Your IT team back at HQ can pre-provision network devices so when an office manager arrives on-site, all they need to do is plug the devices in and follow a few intuitive steps to get the network up and running. On top of that, the office manager would have access to the same software tools as their HQ counterparts via the web-based dashboard.
This ease of scalability and management enables your business to grow with fewer limitations due to location and personnel.
Security is a common concern for those considering a move to a cloud-managed network model. It may be intuitive to think that handing over network management and (gasp!) data over to a third party creates risk, but consider that there are inherent risks with traditional, on-premises networks.
If you’re like most businesses, your network equipment is probably in just a few physical locations. This makes the network highly prone to physical threats—whether by natural disasters or break-ins—because there is no redundant data center standing by as a backup.
Additionally, keeping network equipment and software constantly up-to-date is necessary to reduce the risk of cyber attacks, but that also requires continual investments in upgraded technology and personnel.
Cloud networking vendors are better able to make investments in network infrastructure that may be cost prohibitive for your business. This includes setting up redundant data centers spread out across geographies and keeping hardware and software constantly updated to keep hackers at bay.
With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) there is now a plethora of devices that can be connected to your network to provide data on pretty much anything. Smart cameras can track how people move around your space and smart environmental sensors monitor temperature and humidity to help protect expensive equipment and help maintain employee comfort and well-being. These days, you can connect a button to your network and make it do anything—perhaps upgrade your sales gong.
While those examples barely scratch the surface of the kind of data IoT can capture, it’s important to consider that data and intelligence are not the same. IoT devices and cloud-managed networking complement each other so you can maximize the intelligence you get from your smart devices.
Managing smart devices is made straightforward when all of them exist on a single dashboard. Also, apps from the software layer that are purpose-built to work with IoT data can turn troves of data into actionable insights. You can also build your own apps to work with your devices for custom use cases and insights.
Purpose-built for hybrid work
Back to managing your network poolside—cloud-managed networking is a perfect match for remote work. Devices can be set up and managed from anywhere with an internet connection. This means that network administrators no longer need to travel to multiple sites to set up new locations. Even when something goes wrong, troubleshooting can be done directly from the web-based dashboard.
Even beyond your IT team, a cloud-based network has benefits for hybrid work. Setting up VPN access for at-home workers is a snap thanks to dashboard tools and apps. You can even send workers home with their own secure gateway that—like all other cloud-based devices—can be set up with ease.
Considering all of these benefits, it’s easy to see how a cloud-managed network can end up being much more cost-effective than a traditional on-premises network.
For one thing, a cloud-managed network provides competitive advantages in terms of scalability. Devices can be set up remotely by lean IT teams, reducing travel and labor costs.
Cloud-managed networking also eliminates the need to make substantial up-front and rolling investments in infrastructure to keep it continuously secure and optimized. Vendors are able to leverage fees from all of their clients to make these capital investments—spreading out costs to spare you the invoice.
What to look for in a cloud-managed networking vendor
If a cloud-managed network sounds like just the solution you’ve been looking for, then the next step is to find a vendor. There are a lot to choose from, so make sure you consider the following while you shop around.
Security—We talked about the ability of cloud-networking vendors to make big investments in security, but do your due diligence and make sure they’re actually making those investments. Any vendor that’s up to scratch will have security information readily available.
Advanced hardware—Just like your laptop becomes a dinosaur after five years, networking hardware advances fast. Look for a vendor who keeps their hardware up-to-date with the most advanced offerings, from Wi-Fi 6E-capable access points to sensors and smart cameras. Also, don’t be fooled by vendors who claim to play nice with hardware from other brands—you’ll always get the most compatibility from devices purpose-built for their platform.
Technology ecosystem—We discussed that one of the benefits of a cloud-managed network is the ability to leverage applications for a range of use cases. Be sure to check which applications your vendor provides out of the box. If you don’t see any that meet your needs, check to see if they support development of your own apps.
Now that we’ve cleared the skies about cloud-managed networking, it’s easy to see how it can be a win for your team. No matter the size of your business, cloud networking offers unparalleled scale, security, and intelligence. So go ahead, hang out by the pool a little longer. We won’t tell. Besides, if your network needs attention, you can bring it with you.
Matthew Landry is VP Product Management, Networking and Security at Cisco Meraki
Networking teams are in a constant battle against complexity. New apps, services, sites, and security risks arise on a weekly basis.
To meet these challenges head on, IT has rapidly scaled the capabilities and power of the network. But, as that scope and scale expands, the network itself is rapidly diversifying and fragmenting. And when your other priorities are resiliency, agility, and not going crazy, that’s a challenge.
At Cisco Meraki, we believe that simplicity is at the core of scalability, and that the best way to deliver these powerful experiences is through a cloud-first platform.
This morning at Cisco Live, we announced the next step in our customers’ journeys toward truly cloud-native networks. For the first time, it’s possible to monitor and manage Catalyst networks in the Meraki dashboard. With cloud management for Catalyst, we’re giving businesses around the world immediate access to:
Simplified, efficient operations
Powerful automation and intelligence
More network and business agility than they thought possible
Meraki customers who are already well down the path to cloud-managed can now combine the power of Catalyst hardware with the simplicity of cloud management—with full visibility into Catalyst-based access networks.
Cloud monitoring for Catalyst
The first and most important step in this journey is visibility. Cloud monitoring lets you connect to your access networks from anywhere, see the flow of traffic, and quickly diagnose where clients may be having issues. It’s an incredibly powerful way to scale your operations without adding complexity.
Meraki customers have leveraged this power for over a decade, and today we’re bringing the scale and agility of the dashboard to Catalyst customers. With cloud monitoring, you’ll be able to see your Catalyst 9500, 9300, and 9200 switches at the heart of your network live in the Meraki dashboard.
It’s more than visibility, too. Cloud monitoring gives you insight into the topology of your network—every connected client and port-level configuration. You’ll also get detailed traffic inspection and simple troubleshooting tools. The upshot? You’ll be able to quickly identify, isolate, and resolve issues without the need for on-site staff.
A full portfolio of Wi-Fi 6E access points
Joining the hugely successful MR57, we’re adding three new Wi-Fi 6E access points to the Meraki lineup. Not only will these devices open up more power, more performance, and more spectrum for your networks, they’re the first in a new line of wireless innovations from Cisco.
The new Cisco Catalyst 9100 series access points (beginning with the Catalyst 9166, 9164, and 9162) fill out our 6E portfolio and can be directly managed by either the Meraki dashboard or a Cisco 9800 wireless controller and Cisco DNA center.
This is a two-fold benefit for our customers. First, they’re getting the flexibility to transition their network management to the cloud on their terms. Second, this converged hardware platform combines the best of Catalyst and Meraki to accelerate wireless innovation.
Customers taking this step on the journey to cloud management will get access to the full Meraki feature set for these access points, truly merging the scale of the #1 cloud-management dashboard with the power and flexibility of Catalyst, the #1 network hardware platform.
A leaner, fresher, more powerful dashboard
Connecting all this innovation is the brand-new Meraki dashboard. Our team has taken everything our customers love about the dashboard and made it faster, more accessible, and more intuitive at every step. Starting with a new network landing page, we’ve dramatically improved every aspect of network management with a modernized layout, intuitive workflows, and directly actionable insights.
For organizations with Catalyst switches at the core of their network, making the move to the cloud has never been easier or more accessible. The Meraki dashboard is truly their bridge to the cloud.
Taking your next step
No organization’s journey to cloud management looks the same. Many are already there, managing 100% of their networks through the Meraki dashboard. But there are countless more organizations at different stages of this trek. Some have Meraki wireless and Catalyst at the core. Others are Catalyst end-to-end.
Your journey may take a month, a year, or more, but we’ll be with you the entire way, whatever your business requires. You just need to choose that first step. To get started, check out our Quick Start Guide and move into the fast lane on your journey to cloud management for Catalyst.
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is an architecture that integrates networking and security. It builds on proven technologies like cloud-based security, SD-WAN, zero trust, and internet insights.
With rapid changes in the global environment, organizations need a solution that provides secure access to internet and as-a-service resources for remote workers, branch offices, and campus/headquarter locations for any application, on any device, and from any location.
How can you deliver a robust, consistent SASE experience to all users in today’s era of hybrid work? The answer is through a pre-integrated, as-a-service solution.
A turnkey SASE solution
To this end, Cisco Meraki is pleased to announce Cisco Secure Connect, a unified, turnkey, SASE as-a-service solution that can be set up in hours. It can be maintained with minimal effort via a highly intuitive dashboard powered by the Meraki platform—the industry’s foremost cloud networking solution.
The Meraki dashboard makes it simple to set up the Meraki security and SD-WAN appliance, remote access, and cloud security, or security services edge (SSE), powered by Cisco Umbrella.
Unparalleled user experience
Adding branch offices is a four-click configuration from the dashboard, and remote workers can either install and connect endpoint multi-factor authentication (MFA) software on their own, or access private applications via browser-based zero-trust network access (ZTNA).
Cisco provides the relevant certificates and domain name for the clientless ZTNA, which greatly reduces configuration overhead.
Cisco Secure Connect ensures that users are correctly identified and authenticated, and that their posture has been validated before they connect to corporate applications.
Continuous optimization of application performance, combined with Cisco’s direct peering relationships with many leading SaaS providers, enables unparalleled user experience and increased productivity.
Access, security, and intelligence at scale
Cisco Secure Connect is secure, intelligent, and simple to set up. A single, all-inclusive subscription gives lean IT teams the ability to quickly scale access to applications and resources hosted anywhere—across multiple public or private clouds—from any location at any time, while providing protection across every point of service and delivering actionable insights.
Additionally, Cisco’s global reach with local support ensures dependable partnerships and successful outcomes. This is extremely attractive to customers with lean IT environments as they can quickly offer a complete, unified SASE solution as-a-service.
As universities continue to embrace and support hybrid learning environments, school officials are looking to leverage IoT technology to enhance the on-campus experience and keep students safe while also improving operational efficiencies across spaces, buildings, and departmental workflows.
IT, facilities, and campus safety departments all play a role in driving a safe, secure, and connected experience. Here are five ways smart IoT devices—such as cloud-managed cameras and sensors—can deliver on the promise of building a connected campus across multiple departmental needs.
Integrate IT management
Leadership teams need the ability to communicate critical operational information to all department stakeholders—and stakeholders need the ability to easily report the status of university facilities or other infrastructure. To better enable this, institutions are exploring how an integrated campus management system and integrated dashboards can improve their information sharing and reporting capabilities.
IT equipment and IoT devices managed on the same cloud-first dashboard as the rest of the IT network provides a streamlined and holistic approach toward management of all business systems. Additionally, all this information can be readily accessible via an API to integrate with a suite of applications, thus creating one comprehensive management system.
Deliver actionable insights
Actionable insights from a digitized physical environment have many benefits, such as decreasing student safety incidents and improving real estate utilization. However, many IT, facilities, and operations teams lack the data they need for that kind of visibility.
New IoT technologies like cloud-managed cameras and sensors can drive greater efficiency and physical security through automation and provide data points to manage costs, maximize resources, and improve campus experiences.
Consolidating data from smart devices into one integrated platform provides actionable insights to enable faster decision-making. Centralized cloud management and open APIs enable IoT devices to be managed alongside other networked devices or integrated with any business system.
Future-proof building operations and sustainability
Campus leaders will feel continued pressure to report on and contribute to global and institutional sustainability goals. Smart sensors can detect the occupancy, temperature, light, and even the air quality in each room. Sensor data can then be used to automate HVAC systems, lighting, or other building systems to reduce energy consumption and associated carbon emissions and also help to provide a more comfortable learning environment.
Align campus access with campus safety
It’s proven that students learn better when they feel safe in their learning environment. Smart cameras can detect unusual patterns in the movement of people, which can trigger analytics to determine if someone entering or leaving an area is authorized.
Additionally, campus safety teams can reduce incident response times with the ability to quickly search through hours of footage and easily share it with police. Student satisfaction can be improved by providing better access to facilities requests with options like self-service apps and smart button-enabled sensors designed to automate common tasks or trigger specific actions.
Plan for events and utilize campus space
Campus facilities teams are experiencing an increase in the number of events as well as a diversification in the type of events they manage, such as graduation ceremonies, sporting contests, and prominent speaker engagements.
Facilities teams that can accurately track space utilization can be more effective at reimagining and redesigning spaces to support a diverse range of events on campus. Camera and sensor data can help facilities teams plan space allocation more effectively by understanding where bottlenecks are forming and what spaces are not being sufficiently utilized.
Investing in the right technology is the first step toward creating the connected campus of the future, along with internally aligning across IT, facilities, and campus safety to maximize your investment.