Archive for October, 2023

Optimizing Physical Security through Automation

Optimizing Physical Security through Automation

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

The security sector has seen several innovations over the years that have changed the scope of facility management and protection. One of these areas of advancement has been the automation of security processes and responses, which has provided efficiency on a new scale.  

From automated access control and smart surveillance systems, to streamlined incident response and integrated security operations, automation empowers organizations to proactively safeguard their physical assets.  

Read on to explore the benefits of physical security automation, including improved threat detection, real-time monitoring, streamlined workflows, reduced human error, and enhanced scalability.  

Improved threat detection 

Automation has allowed for advanced threat detection and responses that are more streamlined and pre-defined according to safety policies. The integration of more automation into threat detection systems means a quicker and more robust response to any potential breaches. 

For example, combining an access control system like Kisi, with IoT cameras from Meraki enables automated intrusion detection. Once a breach occurs, the camera records every action by the intruder, and the access control system sends notifications to the administrator or any applicable parties. This response is completely automated, and allows you to take quick action to mitigate the potential threat. 

Real-time monitoring and reporting 

Automatic functioning of access control and surveillance systems means eyes are always on the premises, even after hours, without dedicated personnel. This helps security managers and landlords have extra peace of mind, knowing that should a breach occur, the automated systems and the records they keep are easily accessible. 

Streamlined Workflows

Some access control solutions allow for automated provisioning, which means you don’t have to manually configure the permissions for each user you already have in your directory. This saves your admins and IT professionals the time they usually spend on setting up and onboarding users for access to spaces and services. This automation also means simplified onboarding and offboarding workflows, enhancing security and streamlining the process of granting and revoking access permissions. 

Reduced human error 

Legacy systems which require human input to detect threats and irregularities in the access flow are vulnerable to error. Security personnel cannot always have eyes on every sector of the premises, and breaches are bound to occur. Cameras and access control systems with automatic functionality can record actions in real time and lock doors on site. This automated process reduces risks associated with employees forgetting to lock the doors of sensitive areas. 

Enhanced scalability    

Companies are growing at an exponential rate, with new opportunities and hybrid work environments paving the way for more employees and bigger premises. Automation makes the process of scaling easier with remote and centralized access management. 

The hassle of distributing keys and managing different legacy access systems across locations is replaced by modern, cloud-based systems, empowering you to automatically manage access through mobile devices. Advanced solutions, like Kisi, can support your transition to the cloud by providing the benefits of automation without needing to upgrade your existing hardware. 

For more information about Kisi and to request a demo, visit the Meraki Marketplace

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Optimizing Physical Security through Automation

Solving the Device Management Puzzle

two people assembling a puzzle

People have been puzzling for over 100 years. During quarantine alone puzzle sales skyrocketed 300% as families sat down away from computer screens or TVs to spend quality time together.  

One of the names synonymous with the art of puzzle-making is Ravensburger. Founded in Germany in 1883, Ravensburger is a leader in puzzles, board games, activities, and toys—they even have their own adventure park! 

We sat down with Markus Moses from Ravensburger to discuss their partnership with Cisco Meraki and how our solution has helped him and his very small IT team scale operations while supporting and growing the expansion of the company as a whole.  

Could you tell us a bit about your role and your company? 

Marcus: Of course! Hello, I’m Markus Moses and I’ve worked for Ravensburger since 1994, so quite a long time. My current role is Senior Network Analyst and I’m responsible for the network at Ravensburger and its subsidiaries.  

Ravensburger is a publisher that produces puzzles, board games, and books. We also have an adventure park for children. We have about 2,000 employees and are continuing to grow internationally with locations in Europe and America.  

Wow, very cool! I’m sure you have so many great stories from your 20+ years with the company. We’d love to hear a bit more about the IT infrastructure you built over that time. 

Marcus: Yes, it’s been a long time. Lots of change and growth. We have about 55 networks spanning across Europe and the U.S. We have a mix of Cisco Catalyst switches and Cisco wireless access points that we manage through the Meraki dashboard. We also use some Meraki IoT products like Meraki MV smart cameras and MT sensors.  

Could you tell us more about how you use Cisco Catalyst switches with the Meraki dashboard? 

Marcus: Yes. Meraki is very user-friendly and I’m happy with how the Cisco Catalyst devices and the Meraki dashboard work together.  

We can add our Catalyst switches to the Meraki dashboard, which has vastly improved our visibility and troubleshooting. Having all the devices on one dashboard has been a huge win for us.  

That’s so great to hear. What was life like before Meraki?  

Marcus: It was a headache, many sleepless nights. Meraki has helped vastly by combining everything on one dashboard, which helps alleviate my workload and streamline operations.  

Device management was disconnected before, but now I have one dashboard for everything. It’s a dream.  

Let’s take a step back, why did you decide to partner with Meraki? 

Marcus: The main intention of partnering with Meraki was to alleviate our IT challenges. We are a very small team on the network side—it’s just myself and a part-time employee—so the lack of central device management was really cumbersome and was eating up a lot of time.  

We chose Meraki because it covered all of our needs—from switching to sensors. 

What have been some of the most notable results of the partnership? 

Marcus: The dashboard makes updates easier and allows them to happen quicker. I can automate updates, which saves me time, and now I have a lot more visibility into device health and troubleshooting. I was able to reduce the amount of hours I previously spent  troubleshooting because of the dashboard.  

I also save time by not having to travel to each location. Whether it’s to the park, the office, or the shops, I can manage everything on the dashboard from anywhere. For example, I can send deployment packets to each location right from the dashboard, and even though each location has different needs, we can deploy the solutions without needing to travel, which is huge.  

Even though the number of devices are growing and the network is growing, the amount of work I have hasn’t increased and I don’t need to hire anyone else. That’s a big win for us as a small team supporting such a big company.  

How would you describe your partnership with Meraki? 

Easy! It’s so easy to use! Easy to scale, simple to use. I’m very happy.  

Curious to learn more?  

Visit the Ravensburger website to learn about all the amazing board games, activities, and, of course, puzzles they have for sale. 

Also, check out our other Meraki customer success stories to discover more ways to get the most from your network. 

Posted in Case Studies | Comments Off on Solving the Device Management Puzzle

New Switches for Turbocharged Employee Experiences 

In our recent blog announcing new Meraki cloud-managed switches, we emphasized the role of network performance in elevating the customer experience. An equally important factor in the customer satisfaction equation is the employee experience, which is also driven by network performance in today’s digital era. A positive employee experience directly impacts the customer experience. Imagine a retail employee is trying to do a stock check for a customer and repeatedly encounters access errors, or imagine a remote call-center employee who can’t access customer data. This creates frustration for both the customer and the employee. 

Reliable and secure connectivity is the backbone of employee success 

Whether you need to encourage employees to return to the office or support a flexible work model, providing them with secure access to relevant information, collaboration, and applications wherever and whenever they need it is critical for job success.   

To turbocharge employee experiences, organizations can leverage new Wi-Fi technologies, such as IoT, to power “smart buildings” that provide seamless collaboration and more safe and secure physical environments. Moving to a smart building approach can be a disruptive process, but it doesn’t have to be. The cloud-managed Catalyst 9300-M network switches securely connect bandwidth-hungry devices, e.g., Wi-Fi 6/6E and smart kiosks, with Universal Power over Ethernet (UPoE) and ultra-high performance bandwidth

Converged power and network management with 60 W UPoE option reduces costs, increases flexibility, and enables intelligent control.

Benefits of the Catalyst 9300-M include:

Adaptability to changing network needs

  • The switch supports 60 W UPoE options, allowing for faster deployment through centralized power and network management
  • With the Port Schedule feature, you can remotely turn ports on and off based on a schedule, saving energy costs when powering devices like smart LEDs or printers
  • The switch also offers a wide range of mGig speed options and improved physical stacking capacity of up to 480 Gbps, ensuring better throughput for Wi-Fi 6/6E and IoT devices

High redundancy

  • The switch provides modular uplink options for hardware flexibility and easier management
  • The Cisco StackPower feature aggregates all available power in a stack of switches and manages it as one common power pool, providing overall campus redundancy while efficiently distributing power and reducing costs

Built-in application layer visibility

  • The switch offers rich analytics and insights that provide dynamic optimization of network performance and resource utilization, helping to align with employee needs and enhancing overall network efficiency

 

Scale network security operations with adaptive microsegmentation 

Evolving security policy requirements create constant manual work to maintain compliance and widen skills gaps for both network and security teams. 

Thankfully, the Catalyst 9300-M integrates powerful technology to address these challenges— Meraki Adaptive Policy. By leveraging cloud efficiency from Meraki and the powerful Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to assign security group tags (SGTs), administrators can automatically determine network traffic intent at scale while reinforcing security across locations. Users are dynamically assigned an SGT regardless of the device.   

Back to our previous examples, Adaptive Policy would have enabled the retail and call center employee to seamlessly access applications without being denied. Thanks to Meraki simplicity, Adaptive Policy can effortlessly adapt to and maintain policy changes without requiring network teams to reconfigure switches or manage long access control lists (ACLs) across the network. Mircosegementation has never been easier. 

Adaptive Policy is currently supported with an Advanced license on Catalyst 9300-M, MS390, Meraki access points (MR), and Meraki security appliances (MX), providing a truly flexible and dynamic microsegmentation strategy across your network.   

Sustain operations while enabling innovation 

The experience of your IT teams must also be considered. As the modern network continues to expand, network operations must be optimized to get ahead of changing needs. At the same time, employees need space to innovate in order to build the best network solutions. By combining the power and reliability of the Catalyst 9300 with the simplicity of Meraki, you can complete network refresh projects in days, not months, and streamline network management—all while retaining talent and giving employees back time to focus on strategic initiatives. 

Here are a few capabilities your teams can leverage to achieve this: 

  • Dynamic topology for instant visibility. Once the switch is connected to the Meraki dashboard, your team gains a dynamic and contextualized view of all device connections and their status. This visibility allows for informed decision-making to optimize network performance and plan resource allocation effectively. 
  • Remote troubleshooting for faster mean time to resolution (MTTR). With remote troubleshooting capabilities and a guided troubleshooting flow, your team can quickly diagnose and resolve issues. They can cycle and ping ports, perform packet capture (PCAP) testing from any location, and restore services without the need for on-site visits. The dashboard also detects misconfigurations and offers one-click VLAN mismatch remediation. 
  • Firmware management at scale. Ensure your network is always up-to-date. Easily review, schedule, stage, and update firmware from an intuitive dashboard or automate the process with an API. 

Watch our video to learn more:

 

Save time, effort, and operational costs with Meraki 

Ready to transform your employee experience and boost IT team productivity? Jump-start your cloud journey today with powerful Catalyst 9300-M switches for advanced networking and security. Visit our Meraki switching page and learn how Meraki makes it effective to manage and monitor your end-to-end network across locations with one powerful, intuitive dashboard.   

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on New Switches for Turbocharged Employee Experiences