Archive for August, 2022

Rise Above Complexity with APIs

Rising above complexity concept illustration

Let’s take a brief walk down memory lane, shall we? In the not-too-distant past, server technicians always had a console cable at the ready. A key tool of the trade, you never knew when you’d need one to connect to a terminal to manage devices.

But now your old console cable is gathering dust in a drawer, and for good reason. Cables—by and large—became a thing of the past when businesses started moving to the cloud, famed for its ability to deliver innovation and efficiency.

The cloud is great, we love the cloud, however, that love comes with a need to manage increasingly complex IT estates. Today’s networks are filled with tens of thousands of devices, if not more. Deploying, managing, and monitoring each of these applications and devices can quickly become cumbersome and disorganized. That’s where our Meraki APIs come to the rescue.

Business is easy as pie with the right API

With APIs, companies big and small can intelligently manage and monitor their infrastructure with speed and efficiency—regardless of application, device, location, or logistical hurdle. But, where Meraki APIs truly shine is in helping teams handle the more tedious tasks quickly and easily. 

Meraki APIs enable enterprise-wide automation. This allows organizations to make large-scale changes with just a few clicks. They can optimize network and device migration efficiently and with minimal human error, and monitor, configure, and report—all from one place. 

With this kind of management at scale, the possibilities are endless. With the Meraki dashboard API, you can manage tasks like provisioning, bulk configuration changes, monitoring, and role-based access controls—often in a matter of seconds. 

Like retiring the old console cable, we’re doing away with repetitious manual network processes.

APIs in the real world

For real-world applications, it isn’t enough to simply automate. You have to know what’s happening, which is why our APIs go beyond day-zero provisioning to provide insights for workflows and drive the analytics behind better business decisions.

Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. In fact, the most popular uses for the Meraki API cover the full range of network operations use cases:

  • Adding new organizations, admins, networks, devices, VLANs, SSIDs
  • Provisioning thousands of new sites in minutes with scripting
  • Automating the onboarding and off-boarding of employees’ teleworking device(s)
  • Powering custom dashboards for store managers, field techs, or unique use cases
  • Delivering real-time location analytics data to inform branch staffing models

How to kick-start your Meraki API journey 

We’ve barely scratched the surface of APIs here, but we have plenty of resources for you to dive into. Here are the top three ways to engage with Meraki APIs:  

The best way to get started is to visit and browse our comprehensive Meraki Developer Hub. There, you’ll find a wide array of APIs that are free to use and easy to integrate into other applications. For those ready to dive into the API deep-end, try our Cisco Meraki Marketplace, where you can browse and demo hundreds of partners and apps built on Meraki APIs.

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Boost Your SD-WAN with Service Assurance

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Martin Saunders is Product Director at Highlight, a Meraki technology partner

Demand for SD-WAN is growing rapidly. According to current analysis, SD-WAN-powered networks are likely to account for 25% of all connectivity revenue for service providers in three years’ time. 

While the technology offers considerable benefits, it’s important to demonstrate that an SD-WAN solution is delivering on all its promises. This is where service assurance becomes critical. Service assurance goes beyond the technical monitoring of individual components by focusing on the delivery of the network service as a whole, empowering enterprise organizations and service providers with a shared point-of-truth and a trusted basis for communication.

Seeing the whole service picture

Meraki has one of the leading SD-WAN platforms on the market. One feature is the Meraki dashboard, which shows valuable insights into performance. However, if you want to see how the SD-WAN overlay connections perform alongside underlying networks in an enterprise setting, or if you are a service provider with multiple customers, you might consider adding the Highlight Service Assurance platform.

The integration of the Highlight Service Assurance platform and Meraki SD-WAN enables users to see the health, stability, and load across both virtual and physical networks. The platform draws data from the Meraki SD-WAN dashboard and combines it with data from underlying connectivity services, on which the SD-WAN relies, such as 4G/5G cellular, broadband, and Ethernet.

Enterprises then have complete visibility of all network services in one place via Highlight. This facilitates more informed discussions with service providers to quickly identify potential issues.

Connecting customers and service providers

Highlight also enables service providers to manage multiple levels of commercial relationships within a secure multi-tenancy structure. The service provider can use Highlight to set contractual SLA targets, thresholds, and alerts, and then report against these measures, all with complete transparency to their end customer.

Maintel is one provider using Highlight as their SD-WAN service assurance tool, alongside managed Cisco Meraki solutions. With an easy-to-understand view across the entire network, including SD-WAN, underlying connectivity, and LAN, Maintel has actionable and timely insights to facilitate its customers’ business needs. 

“Providing a valued managed service is core to our proposition. Together with Highlight, we’re delivering a service that takes all the worry away from the customer in running and depending on an advanced network, giving them the freedom to focus on what’s important to them—their business.”

Paul Bulmer, Director of Product Management, Maintel

Maintel brings in LAN elements such as Wi-Fi and Ethernet switching and uses Highlight’s grid view feature to visualize these alongside the WAN to enhance the managed service further and provide a total, top-down picture. This increases the relevance and efficiency of communication between Maintel and its customers and builds trust on both sides. To learn more about how the Highlight Service Assurance platform can support your business, request a demo today by visiting Meraki Marketplace.

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Simplify Security with Managed Cloud Video Surveillance

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This article was contributed by Convergint, a Meraki technology partner.

Challenge: maintaining security in a digitized world

Technology is transforming, along with the expectations of what it can do for businesses. Cloud and IoT technologies are driving greater connectivity and data insights than ever before. Connected and available data can now layer with intelligent solutions to optimize operations and enhance business outcomes.

According to McKinsey & Company, there is more than $1 trillion in productivity gains to be realized by leveraging new cloud technologies. Now more than ever, leading companies are looking to modernize their infrastructure and put cloud technologies at the center of their growth strategy.

Standing in the way of this modernization are legacy systems that operate with minimal intelligence and are dependent on internal infrastructure that is complex to deploy and maintain. Businesses want the value of modern technology but are stuck with these legacy systems due to high up-front costs and complex deployment and management of new solutions.

Similarly, security and safety organizations are looking to evolve their video surveillance approach to address the changing threat landscape, all while dealing with the challenges of labor shortages, operational inefficiencies, and cost uncertainty driven by record inflation.

Solution: managed video surveillance as a service

These ongoing video surveillance challenges are solved with a combination of cloud-native technologies and a managed services approach. The best organizations are turning to reliable partners to help face increasing financial, physical, and cybersecurity threats. Smart organizations can leverage multi-year contracts to gain access to world-class talent, lock in costs, and manage risks in the evolving threat and technology landscape.

A managed services approach helps simplify the procurement of video surveillance technology in a comprehensive service offering, striving to maximize system value and reduce up-front investment.

Value: streamlined service in a simple solution

The business impact of managed video surveillance as a service is significant. Transitioning to the cloud offers a modernized security infrastructure, accelerated digital transformation initiatives, and improved overall safety and security. Resource utilization is improved with reduced operational costs and management burdens previously associated with internal and external compliance requirements are removed. By partnering with a reliable third-party organization offering comprehensive managed services, leaders are enabled to focus on their core business while the rest is covered with one streamlined, easy-to-budget solution. 

Join us at GSX to learn more about how world-class organizations are maximizing the value of emerging cloud video and access-control technology. Register here for the Convergint and Meraki presentation “Security Technology as a Service” that will be offered on September 12 at 3:00 pm or September 13 at 10:00 am.

About Convergint’s managed services team

Convergint is a trusted technology advisor that is purpose-built to help organizations adapt to the changing digital landscape with transformative cloud, IoT, 5G, and artificial intelligence solutions. Convergint’s managed services offer personalized solutions in one complete offering, backed by their 20-year commitment to exceptional customer service as an industry-leading systems integrator.

Expert colleagues will help you make the right decisions and gain a competitive advantage with innovative solutions designed to analyze your digital workspace, identify opportunities, drive revenue, and reduce costs. With thorough market expertise and a continually expanding solutions portfolio, Convergint makes the complex simple so you can focus on your business.

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Mapping the Way to a More Connected Community

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Over the last decade, state and local agencies have been navigating a sea change in urban technology. Governments launched some initiatives to deliver digital services to constituents and empower agencies to provide positive, equitable experiences to all.

Creating more connected communities in these changing currents requires overcoming obstacles that range from properly monitoring distributed locations with lean IT teams to managing new hybrid workplaces and combating persistent security threats.

Addressing funding, access, and connectivity challenges demands an all-hands-on-deck approach to governing localities and requires establishing a solid, reliable crew through partnerships, IT teams, and employees. 

Once you’ve assembled your crew, you are ready to set sail, but you’ll need a map to reach your final destination.

All aboard to the land of IoT

IoT devices keep communities agile by providing solutions for various security, safety, and visibility issues—all while collecting data to plan and navigate better, smarter responses. Additionally, location and environmental sensors and smart street lights and traffic sensors enable governments to provision and provide constituents with the services and infrastructure planning they need.

With the influx of federal stimulus funding, governments have the opportunity to scale up infrastructure-related IoT systems, including ones connected with municipal utilities like water. 

Don’t forget to cross the digital divide

The availability of high-speed internet access is a necessity, not a luxury. Addressing the digital divide impacts almost every aspect of constituents’ lives- in education, in work, health, and even in voting.  

In fact, 34% of CDG survey respondents said their jurisdictions are currently working to address the digital divide—bolstered by unprecedented federal funding to address broadband gaps.

Onward toward the changing workforce 

The transition to remote work happened seemingly overnight, as IT departments worked towards solutions that successfully allowed service continuity in the face of stay-at-home orders.

With the continued transition and evolution to hybrid work models, the task for governments is to build on early efforts in hybrid work in more sustainable ways while also embracing the benefits of change. 

One benefit from this sea change in the work model has been agencies’ ability to address previous grievances while hiring and retaining talent. In addition to providing more flexibility to current staff, jurisdictions can expand the search radius for new talent. Workplace flexibility can mean the difference between hiring IT within the capital to hiring within the state.

While there has always been a challenge in competing with the private sector, it’s important for government leaders to stay abreast of the opportunities to provide additional services that candidates and current employees desire. This must also be managed against the necessity for in-person citizen services and meet the expanded scope of connectivity and security—particularly within government IT. The days of pensions and stability are not always enough, and whether it’s through workplace flexibility, technology modernization, continued education, or offices of the future, agency IT leaders must consider all the tools at their exposure while keeping security at the forefront.  

Land ho! Dock safely and securely

Only 8% of CDG survey respondents reported no security challenges with their connected community initiatives. Ensuring network security when employees use their own devices, training, finding staff with cybersecurity skill sets, securing remote cloud-based applications and access, and managing endpoints are all key challenges, respondents said.

The growing scope of governments’ IT environments and the threats against them requires a broader shift in cybersecurity. Creating a holistic approach to security comes down to outlining a strategy that merges practices across teams and systems, helps agencies identify current security vulnerabilities, and defines the goals and objectives for the entire organization moving forward.

Embrace the voyage

Every journey starts with a goal, whether that’s to discover a new world or deliver best-in-class constituent services.  

Begin your journey toward more connected communities with a clear vision to achieve a flexible and scalable environment. By embracing IoT to help with your area’s goals, establishing processes to bridge the digital divide, empowering the workforce to provide services, and implementing strict cybersecurity protocols, you’re all set to sail toward a safe and secure connected community. 

Are you ready for the journey? Follow our urban technology checklist to get started.

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Gallup: Engagement Boosts Employee Retention

Woman on tablet PC smiling

Creating workplaces full of engaged, fulfilled employees is not just a utopian fantasy. More global businesses today are trying to achieve that outcome, according to a recent report from Gallup

While some may be driven by altruistic motives, others may prioritize financial benefits. Most likely, the majority seek both fiscal and moral rewards—and why not? If organizations can feel good and do good, everybody wins. 

The price of not doing the right thing is extensive.

Employees who are not engaged or who are “actively disengaged” cost worldwide organizations $7.8 trillion in lost productivity alone, Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report,” found. This represents 11% of the world’s GDP, Gallup, said.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of staff fall into this category.

Last year, about 80% of the world’s workforce did not feel engaged at their jobs. At the high point of engagement, only 22% of the workforce was engaged, and that was back in 2019.

Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done. 

What’s the big deal?

If practically nobody’s employees are engaged, then what difference does it make to your team and organization? How much impact can improving engagement and helping your team members thrive really have on the bottom line?

A lot.

Individual business units with engaged employees are almost 25% more profitable than departments with unengaged employees in the same company, Gallup said. These individuals are also healthier, said Gallup’s Claire de Carteret, Director of Business and Learning Solutions, EMEA, in a webinar.

“When employees are engaged and they’re thriving, they experience significantly less stress, anger, and health problems,” she said. “Employees who are engaged at work—but not thriving—have 61% higher likelihood to experience ongoing burnout. And remembering that data point, there’s only 9% of people across the world who are thriving.”

Sticking around

Satisfied employees are also less likely to leave. Hiring and retention is a top concern for many executives across most vertical markets and geographies. 

In fact, only 29.1% of IT workers had a “high intent” to stay with their current jobs, according to a global report Gartner released in March 2022. “CIOs who adopt a human-centric work design will out-hire, out-retain, and out-perform those who revert to industrial-era work paradigms,” said Graham Waller, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, in a press release. 

While compensation has surged—especially in IT—it cannot continue to skyrocket, said Heather Barrett, Managing Consultant at Gartner. For one, businesses will price themselves out of the market, she said. 

Engaged, thriving employees are less likely to leave in search of higher pay alone; they are more likely to be motivated by challenges, opportunities, and good management, she said. 

Technology can help

There are multiple components to fostering engagement and well-being—human resources, management training and support, ongoing employee education, and more. But CIO leadership and technology are critical, both in their immediate spheres of influence and across the organization. 

In addition to building their own empathy and transparency, and fostering an environment of respect, CIOs can nurture employee well-being and engagement by:

  • Reducing time-consuming and repetitive tasks through automation, AI, and machine learning
  • Implementing dashboards that rapidly inform stakeholders about problems and metrics in areas such as network performance, well-being and engagement, and more
  • Creating a hybrid workplace that empowers teams to work anywhere, via any device, seamlessly and securely
  • Offering high-speed, reliable connectivity, from any place
  • Leveraging the cloud to proactively mitigate issues and enhance business planning, improving business resiliency to cut customer support issues and stress on service teams, and modernizing onboarding to create a better experience for users

These steps can help an organization on its path to improving how employees feel about their lives, at work and beyond—about their jobs and employers, their roles and future possibilities, and what they do with the hours they spend at the keyboard each day. 

Most of us are somebody’s employee. Surely we all want to be motivated and engaged, working for an organization that is good to work for and with. CIOs can leverage innovations like analytics, IoT, and the cloud to cultivate employee engagement and promote the ability to thrive in workplaces they enjoy. As a result, both businesses and teams benefit. That’s no pipe dream.

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