Archive for August, 2023

Solving the SD-WAN Managed Service Puzzle

Gamma Telecom is a leading managed service provider with a large commercial customer base throughout the UK and Europe. To realize the full potential of its Meraki SD-WAN capability, Gamma needed to deliver a fully managed SD-WAN service for its customers. 

They also wanted to provide this service at scale across multi-site, multi-vendor, and multi-tenant networks. This case study explores how Gamma used both Meraki and the Highlight Service Assurance Platform to enhance their SD-WAN managed services. 

Taking on the challenge of SD-WAN managed service delivery 

As part of the managed service, a key requirement is the ability to quickly identify problems at source and eradicate legacy setup issues. On multiple occasions, Gamma had inherited poorly set-up networks that caused intermittent issues with deployed Meraki solutions. These issues often occurred because of problems with supporting or adjacent connections. As such, they required a holistic view of how all services were interacting. 

Gamma also wanted to share relevant views and reports with their customers, demonstrating service level agreement (SLA) successes to their Meraki customers across the entire spectrum of provided services. They lacked a unified way to present this kind of information without needing to rely on time-consuming data gathering from multiple sources. 

Gamma already used the Highlight Service Assurance Platform as their one-stop service management tool kit for their traditional managed services, so they turned to the Highlight team to develop and support this service assurance capability for their Meraki SD-WAN managed services. 

 A fully integrated SD-WAN solution in the Highlight platform 

The Highlight Service Assurance Platform is designed to facilitate communication between service providers and the customer organizations that use their connectivity services, enhancing network service performance analysis. 

By utilizing Meraki dashboard APIs within Highlight, Gamma can show the performance of the SD-WAN devices and tunnels, alongside supporting network connections such as broadband, Wi-Fi, cellular, and LAN. Using a single Gamma-branded Highlight dashboard, the company can also provide a top-down service view of the Meraki network to its customers, with full transparency of the Meraki SD-WAN service.  

“Highlight allows us to gain a holistic view of all VPNs and performance metrics of the organization. We can now extend our service assurance capability alongside the native Meraki tools. We are able to identify potential issues and provide quick improvements to the customer.” – James Sirrett, Gamma Direct Network Support Manager 

For Gamma’s service management teams, the addition of Meraki SD-WAN into their Highlight instance enables them to deliver a uniform customer experience using a platform they’re familiar with, ensuring that the potential benefits of a managed Meraki SD-WAN service are fully achieved. It means they can easily up-tier customers to an SD-WAN managed service with corresponding revenue increases compared to standard supply and break/fix contracts.  

Empowering service management teams to achieve more with less 

Now, whenever Gamma delivers its industry-leading Cisco Meraki SD-WAN solution to customers, it relies on the Highlight platform to provide them with a holistic view of supporting connections. This empowers Gamma to provide a complete managed service for their customers by leveraging advanced service management tools. 

“Working with the Highlight platform has seen a rise in our customers’ confidence levels with Gamma’s Meraki SD-WAN service. I am no longer blind to a huge area of my customers’ business. SLAs with issues have decreased significantly and, therefore, so have escalations.” – Hayley Morris, Senior Customer Advocate at Gamma 

With faster and more accurate reporting, Gamma has reduced labor costs due to fewer escalations and less time triaging issues. Ultimately, this has led to greater customer satisfaction, reduced customer churn rates, minimized account management costs, improved portfolio growth, and faster returns on technology investments. 

For more information about Highlight, visit the Meraki Marketplace. 

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Your Competitive Edge Is a Cloud Strategy

Man in a blue sweater working at a desk with a laptop computer

Digital transformation has become an imperative for organizations striving to stay competitive. Adopting a cloud-first strategy is a key enabler according to a recent Tech Target Enterprise Strategy Group survey. 

Here are key insights from the survey that will help you better compete and grow no matter your industry or the size of your IT team. 

Your digital transformation journey should lead to better experiences 

There are three milestones to successful digital transformation, as a recent survey from TechTarget’s Enterprise Strategy Group highlights: becoming more operationally efficient, developing new data-centric products and services, and delivering better and more differentiated experiences for customers. 

A cloud-managed platform places customer and employee experience where it belongs—as a critical strategy to drive business growth. While boosting efficiency and innovation are key motivators for digitalization, it’s people and their experiences that are the underlying drivers of success. A cloud-based network enhances customer and employee experiences, creating visibility and connectedness across every step of their journey. 

“Cloud-enabled strategies to accelerate digital transformation and support hybrid work are differentiators that set businesses apart and enable a unified customer experience. Treating these concepts as key business goals integral to long-term growth is how I see executives leading their organizations to success.”  

Lawrence Huang, SVP/GM, Cisco Networking Experiences – Meraki & Wireless  

Many challenges, one cross-industry solution 

Embarking on a successful digital transformation journey can seem daunting. Business and IT leaders across industries face many of the same challenges that inhibit transformation, and the ability to overcome and solve for those challenges is often  guiding factor when deciding how to modernize business systems. Tech leaders face friction as they try to navigate IT complexity, meet security and compliance demands, and gain visibility into useful data. While these hurdles vary in height by industry, there is one unifying solution across industries: a cloud-first strategy. 

No matter your industry, breaking away from an outdated IT infrastructure can free your company from legacy systems and technical debt. A cloud strategy opens up new areas of opportunity by providing access to innovative new technologies and services that keep your company agile and resilient.  

Drive greater operational efficiencies for improved agility and resilience 

CEOs and tech leaders are choosing digitalization to prepare their organizations for economic unknowns and security threats. A thoughtful digital transformation strategy addresses the needs of security and compliance, infrastructure and operations, and workplace flexibility by offering resilience and a foundation for growth.  

Cloud-enabled technology like AI-powered network optimization and predictive analytics saves time and drives cost savings, operational efficiency, and productivity. A single unified cloud solution can simplify and modernize in the present while future-proofing for continued growth. 

“Organizations must be able to move quickly to seize opportunities ahead of the competition. Cloud services have an important role to play in making the business they serve more agile and, therefore, more likely to succeed.” 

Gartner, 6 Steps for Planning a Cloud Strategy 

Industry-specific use cases, like at-home patient monitoring in healthcare or seamless delivery services from digital storefronts in retail, are all made possible thanks to cloud-first digital solutions that empower organizations to automate and scale. 

Across industries, organizations can increase the productivity of workers with elevated capabilities that deliver enhanced experiences to employees and customers faster. Read the whitepaper for a more in-depth exploration of the benefits of a cloud platform.  

Make cloud-enabled advantages your differentiator 

A cloud strategy prepares your business for future risk and empowers your organization to move with agility and maintain a competitive edge. In a recent interview with Forbes’ Editor-At-Large and Global Futurist, Rich Karlgaard, Lawrence Huang, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Meraki Wireless discussed how cloud-activated resilience is a business differentiator. Implementing a centralized architecture where you can deploy security policies end-to-end, have data insights and visibility site-wide, and adapt to your customers’ needs with speed and efficiency provides a springboard for you to further define your own unique business differentiator.  



Infuse innovation with transformational change 

Transformational change at a company begins with decision-making during planning. Innovative CIOs, or to quote Karlgaard, a “CIO+,” will choose to infuse innovation into their IT strategy at the forefront, weighing important revenue drivers like employee and customer experience in their digital transformation needs. By selecting a cloud-managed platform from which to transform your IT infrastructure, you are prioritizing enhanced experiences and enabling operations that scale at the speed of your business.  

Read the ESG whitepaper, “Leveraging the Cloud to Gain the Benefits of Digital Transformation” for a more in-depth exploration into some of the benefits gained by applying a cloud-first strategy as part of your digital transformation journey. Visit the Meraki cloud-managed platform page to learn how we can help you get there. 

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How scale and automation can enhance employee and constituent lives—really

Colleagues in conference room

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Government technology leaders are helping to address staffing shortages and improve employee and constituent experiences, while also driving organizational and IT benefits and increasing their agencies’ agility.

After all, many public service agencies cannot compete with the private sector’s deeper pockets. For some, perks like stock options and international business travel can be more alluring than serving the community.

For others, the allure of rewarding work in an environment that provides plenty of time for engaging projects and tasks is worth more than a huge salary or a triple-barrel title. Frequently, they enjoy the opportunity to work in and for their community, job stability and the pension plans that these careers afford.

Setting up for success

Although career paths are varied and can meander, the route to delivering these benefits is clear. A comprehensive cloud-first platform—combined with a dashboard that provides visibility across your networks delivers the power to easily integrate, modify and update technologies. By advancing your organization’s use of scale and automation, you can simplify network operations and improve employee and constituent experiences.

This is crucial, analysts say.

“With so many people switching to jobs that better accommodate their needs holistically, employers needed to invest in automation—automating workflows to facilitate remote onboarding and task and process automation enables workers new to their jobs to have the ability to focus on outcomes over process,” Amy Loomis, Research Vice President of Future of Work at IDC, told

There are other benefits as well.

Pleasing people

Recruiting and retaining employees is a top concern for most government managers, regardless of department. Automation delivers big productivity gains. In one report, 75% of technology leaders reported time savings of four hours per person per 40-hour week. By eliminating these once-manual, often error-prone tasks, IT professionals can spend more time on projects that drive the results that residents or visitors experience—results employees can be proud of.

Pay rates for IT professionals as a whole are expected to rise at a median rate of 4% in 2023, despite much-publicized layoffs. Plus, the boredom—or worse, “boreout,” which is chronic boredom that can come from repetitive or seemingly meaningless work, may lead to absenteeism, health problems or quitting.

Discovering opportunities

Your team members can, perhaps, spend some of this time on training or further automating and customizing their networks. Open-source APIs empower developers to quickly and simply manage tedious tasks like adding new organizations, networks or devices or build a dashboard for field technicians or use cases for a particular agency or division.

Alternatively, consider partner solutions that add capabilities such as custom splash pages, crowd intelligence or alert management.

Working anywhere

In some roles, delivering on the promise of hybrid work is another important employee criteria. With a platform-based cloud-managed solution, your organization can—at scale—simply and securely deploy systems anywhere, reducing the multiple costs associated with truck rolls. The city of Stad Menen, Belgium, saw more than 50% reduction in on-site travel by IT when addressing networking issues after it deployed a cloud-managed network platform that featured automation at scale.

Even employees who haven’t traditionally had the opportunity to work, at least occasionally from home or the road, are getting more of what Gartner calls “hybrid flexibility.” When the five-person IT team for the city of New Castle County, Delaware, deployed new wireless, switching and security across more than 25 sites, there were multiple benefits, including faster speeds, more reliability, reduced help-desk calls and enhanced protection.

Government workers can access the network from the parking lot, which makes them more efficient and improves both response times and public safety. Police officers often upload evidence and body-camera footage from their vehicles via a secure portal and government administrators can access data instantly in case of an event.

Improving experiences

You can help your organization defray utilities costs and enhance employee experiences with smart cameras and environmental sensors.

Cloud-managed sensors automatically adjust room temperatures to comfortable levels, avoiding blasts of unnecessary, environmentally unfriendly and costly air conditioning or heat. They also help ensure areas are kept sanitary by maintaining the cleanliness that employees and constituents expect and they can monitor air quality to avoid common contaminants.

Happier constituents

When IT rolls out new applications faster and when updates don’t crash systems or take hours to deploy, end users are happier. They’re not calling the help desk or contacting support via email or chat-bot. That’s a good day for technology professionals, whether or not their role officially involves support.

Brooklyn Public Library offers a wide array of services because their IT team is no longer tied up with manual processes across the library’s 59 individual sites, said Selvon Smith, Vice President, Information Technology and CIO.

“We don’t have enough people on the IT team to be at every branch, so having a remote system allows us to do way more with fewer human resources and without the ability to do that, the branches wouldn’t have these programs or the proper tools to host them,” he added.

Interested in boosting productivity and experience at your agency? Visit Cisco Meraki for Government.

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Enhance Threat Detection at Schools

Students in a classroom raising hands

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To provide a safe learning environment for students and staff, schools and districts need to know what’s happening inside their buildings to stay ahead of potential threats. Deploying the Cisco Meraki cloud-managed platform and MT environmental sensors throughout school buildings can provide administrators, facility managers, and safety personnel with the insights they need to be aware of incidents. Now, MT sensors can integrate with InformaCast by Singlewire to trigger mass notifications and manage incidents when issues arise.

The InformaCast system extends the reach of MT sensor alerts to a school’s connected communication devices. Text, audio, and visual alerts can be sent throughout a school building or to designated groups via desk phones, desktop computers, overhead speakers and paging systems, digital signage, and mobile devices. Depending on the severity of the situation, InformaCast also serves as an incident management tool, enabling schools to gather key stakeholders via tools like Webex to assess situations and coordinate a response.

In this blog post, we’ll outline common use cases for this integration in schools to detect issues and enhance safety and communication.

Meraki MT sensors
Meraki MT sensors

Open Doors

A secure school requires locked doors to prevent unwelcome guests from entering. If schools are not monitoring their entrances, they can expose their students and staff to unnecessary risks. MT door open/close sensors can initiate an InformaCast notification when doors have been left open or are opened outside of normal school hours. Schools can set a schedule for when they want to be alerted about opened doors. Text and audio notifications from InformaCast can be sent to specific groups, such as security or facilities teams, on their desk phones, desktop computers, and/or overhead speakers during school hours, and to mobile devices as SMS text, push notifications, and email during off hours.

Vape detection

Air quality MT sensors have the ability to monitor particulate matter, which can be used to detect when students may be vaping on school grounds. InformaCast notifications can be sent to alert school officials, who can then intervene. 

Requesting assistance

MT smart automation buttons can be mounted throughout buildings to request assistance should an issue occur. Teachers and other school staff can press the button when they witness a fight in the hallway, a flooded bathroom, or any kind of safety or maintenance issue that may arise. The ability to send instant alerts from easily accessible devices means school officials can respond quickly and resolve incidents efficiently.

InformaCast alerts initiated by Meraki MT sensors
InformaCast alerts initiated by Meraki MT sensors

Camera integrations

MT sensors can also tie into MV smart cameras. When a button is pressed, an InformaCast notification can be sent with a link to a live camera feed. This provides school officials with real-time insights into the situation that is unfolding so they can deploy an appropriate response.

Spreading the word and managing incidents

It’s not enough for schools to simply know that something is wrong. They need to be able to understand the severity of the situation, let the appropriate people know what is happening, coordinate a response, and communicate when an issue has been resolved so normal activities can resume. By integrating MT sensors with InformaCast, schools and districts can get the initial insights they need, send follow-up messages, gather key stakeholders, and share “all clear” messages. It also offers critical reporting insights so schools can understand what worked in their response, what didn’t, and how they can adjust for the future.

Visit the Meraki Marketplace to learn more about how integrating InformaCast with Meraki MT sensors can help schools and districts enhance threat detection capabilities.

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