Archive for November, 2023

Connected Machines, Smarter Factories

In today’s dynamic manufacturing landscape, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud technology is a key driver of a transformational shift to Industry 4.0. Cloud networking  enables adaptability for manufacturers amidst the evolving challenges they face as part of this transformation. Here are key cloud networking capabilities that manufacturers can leverage for success along their journey. 

Wireless connectivity—the backbone of modern manufacturing 

Wireless connectivity serves as the backbone of modern manufacturing operations. 

Cloud networking guarantees the reliability of wireless connections, minimizing downtime and optimizing operational efficiency, especially for IoT devices, which rely on robust connectivity to operate effectively. A cloud infrastructure also enhances security protocols, safeguarding wireless networks from potential threats.  

The provision of secure guest Wi-Fi for contractors and visitors further contributes to a seamlessly collaborative environment, allowing external stakeholders to connect securely and participate in manufacturing processes. 

Empowering manufacturing with simplified device management 

Manufacturing companies often grapple with intricate connectivity tasks, particularly in the management and monitoring of network devices. The rise of IoT underscores the importance of connectivity, with numerous devices generating data that necessitates processing and action.  

Cloud networking simplifies these tasks by providing a streamlined and centralized approach, enhancing efficiency for manufacturing companies to seamlessly manage their devices, even in remote operations. The cloud’s scalable infrastructure and remote accessibility further contribute to simplifying the complexity of device management, ultimately optimizing operational processes.  

Safeguarding manufacturing operations with robust security 

Security is of utmost importance in manufacturing, not only for protecting assets but also for ensuring compliance, including adherence to personal protective equipment (PPE) regulations.  

Cloud networking solutions excel in addressing security challenges in manufacturing by automating processes to reduce human errors, implementing robust cybersecurity measures to counter threats, and centralizing control for enhanced protection against vandalism, thereby ensuring the overall safety and integrity of manufacturing operations. 

 

 

Increasing efficiency to enhance operations and achieve sustainability targets 

Manufacturing companies can turn to IoT and cloud solutions in their pursuit of increased efficiency and sustainability. Cloud networking technology enhances manufacturing efficiency by providing real-time monitoring of restricted areas, optimizing energy usage through data-driven strategies, and detecting environmental anomalies for proactive intervention.  

Ensuring the physical security of manufacturing facilities is integral to operational efficiency and sustainability. Real-time monitoring of restricted areas, facilitated by IoT and cloud solutions, not only safeguards assets but also streamlines operations, minimizing disruptions. This proactive approach to physical security contributes directly to the longevity and sustainable performance of manufacturing processes. 

These capabilities contribute to improved operational performance and can help teams align to organizational sustainability goals. Embracing cloud solutions enables manufacturing companies to achieve a more resource-efficient and environmentally responsible approach to their operations. 

Boosting efficiency and safety through advanced asset management 

Effective asset management is a game-changer in manufacturing. Most notably, cloud networking can minimize inventory shrinkage by enabling optimization of asset management. Real-time monitoring facilitated by cloud solutions enhances efficiency and safety, allowing for immediate identification of asset status and potential issues.  

Furthermore, cloud networking provides effective oversight of staff, ensuring compliance with safety protocols and contributing to a comprehensive approach to asset management within the manufacturing environment. 

Keeping your network resilient and adaptable  

As manufacturing companies embrace the opportunities presented by IoT and cloud technology, cloud networking solutions stand as a secure, scalable choice to empower their Industry 4.0 transformation. The journey toward a more connected, secure, efficient, and sustainable manufacturing operation is well within reach.  

Meraki cloud networking provides the tools necessary to navigate this revolution successfully, ensuring that manufacturing operations remain resilient and adaptable in the face of evolving challenges. Embrace the future of manufacturing and experience the benefits of connected machines and smarter factories.  

Learn more about Meraki cloud networking solutions by downloading our Top Tech Trends in Manufacturing e-book. 

 

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Navigating Black Friday & Beyond

A sales women checking out a customer on a tablet computer

Black Friday is one of the most anticipated shopping events of the year for both retailers; and customers. As the holiday season approaches, retailers gear up to offer incredible deals and discounts to attract shoppers. However, managing the surge in traffic and safeguarding customer data during this hectic period can be a challenging task.

Thanks to cloud networking technology, retailers can secure, scale, and simplify their operations to ensure a seamless shopping experience while efficiently managing increased traffic and safeguarding customer data.

Scalability and reliability for retailers 

When Black Friday hits, websites experience a substantial increase in traffic. The hallmark of any successful Black Friday operation is the ability to handle the influx of customers, both online and in-store.
Cloud networking can empower retailers to effortlessly scale their network to accommodate the surge in online and in-store traffic, allowing for smooth transactions, minimal downtime, and satisfied customers without the risk of network crashes or slowdowns. This scalability is essential to handle the abrupt spikes in traffic that occur during the holiday season.

Elevating the shopping experience 

In addition to managing the surge in traffic, retailers must prioritize engaging their customers to boost sales. Shoppers are always on the lookout for the best deals and a personalized shopping experience.

By deploying advanced digital solutions, retailers can implement real-time inventory updates to ensure customers can easily find what they need, personalized promotions based on customer preferences that can be delivered in real-time, and interactive features that captivate shoppers and encourage them to explore products. Adding these experiences for shoppers ultimately leads to higher conversion rates and increased customer loyalty.

Streamline operations through optimized supply chain management 

Black Friday success goes beyond delivering a seamless shopping experience and enhancing customer engagement. Retailers must also ensure efficient supply chain management, encompassing inventory, distribution, and order fulfillment.

Retailers can leverage cloud networking technology to streamline these operations. Additionally, real-time insights into inventory levels can enable retailers to make data-driven decisions about restocking and distribution, minimizing the risk of stockouts and ensuring prompt order deliveries.

Data-driven insights for informed decision-making 

These advanced analytics tools aren’t only useful for optimizing your supply chain. They can also provide insights into customer behavior to recognize trends that can help inform marketing and product strategies.

By harnessing the power of data-driven insights, you can create personalized shopping experiences that resonate with your customers. This, in turn, enhances customer satisfaction, drives loyalty, and ensures your business remains agile and competitive in an ever-evolving retail landscape.

Cybersecurity and data protection: safeguarding retailers and customers

Cybersecurity stands out as a major concern during high-traffic events like Black Friday. With the escalation of cyber threats, retailers need to fortify their networks and protect customer data.
Cloud networking technology incorporates advanced security features designed to shield retailers from cyber threats while keeping sensitive customer data safe. This creates a more secure shopping environment, bolstering consumer trust and enabling retailers to confidently navigate the hustle and bustle of peak shopping seasons.

Stay in the black beyond November 

As Black Friday approaches, retailers must be prepared to meet the challenges of increased traffic. The Meraki platform offers a simple solution, providing the ability to scale, better engage with customers, streamline operations, gain actionable insights, and ensure data protection. This empowers retailers to provide a seamless shopping experience while efficiently managing the holiday rush. Embrace the power of cloud networking technology and elevate your retail success this Black Friday and beyond.

To learn more about Meraki solutions for retail, register to visit our booth at the National Retail Foundation (NRF) show this January.

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Power Your Competitive Edge

On a sizzling summer night, you pull into a fast-food drive-through and are greeted by an automated voice that recognizes your past mobile app orders. The menu board surprises you with personalized recommendations, but what amazes you most is the next-level convenience. Instead of waiting at the window, you are directed to park in a designated area where they locate you and deliver your freshly prepared meal. This seamless customer experience sets the drive-through apart. You’ll definitely come back.

As you drive off, you wonder how they securely and reliably power and connect all their technology (cameras, Wi-Fi, and the digital menu board) in challenging outdoor conditions—whether it’s on a hot summer day, during a cold snowy winter, or on a menu board that needs to fit in a tight space. More importantly, how do their IT experts deploy new sites rapidly, manage firmware updates, and troubleshoot devices across thousands of locations globally?

The answer: extend seamless experiences with a cloud-managed ruggedized switch

Businesses need to power new customer and employee experience possibilities, regardless of industry. To achieve that, you can leverage IoT devices (like outdoor cameras) and Wi-Fi to ensure real-time communication, physical safety, intelligent analytics, and reliable operations in rugged environments. A cloud-managed ruggedized switch is ideal for managing network and security in one place across remote locations.

Meet the MS130R and extend connectivity and security to hot/cold/tight spaces. It is designed to:

  • Power more use cases with 30 W PoE+, IP30 protection, and support from -40 °C to 70 °C (-40 °F to 158°F)
  • Adapt to your installation needs with flexible mounting and power options
  • Connect outdoor access points, cameras, and other IoT devices in hot/cold/tight environments
  • Be used in locations such as parking lots, pop-up events, non-temperature-controlled spaces, outdoor kiosks, and hospitality venues like golf courses and ski resorts
  • Unleash operational efficiency and streamline remote management with the powerful and intuitive Meraki cloud-managed dashboard
  • Protect true edge environments by leveraging Adaptive Policy* with MS130R

The MS130R seamlessly extends common policies from campus to branch to harsh environments, helping you deliver secure networks that evolve with your organization and bolster growth

* MS130R is hardware-ready for the Adaptive Policy feature, with a future firmware upgrade and Advanced license.

Cross two hurdles in one leap: reduce costs and complexity with unified PoE power and network management.

Extending the power and connectivity to these environments is no easy feat.

By utilizing one single Ethernet cable for both power and network access, you not only simplify the installation process and lower costs, but also enable centralized monitoring and control for all relevant devices. The ability to remotely turn off ports and connected devices (like the menu board in the example) at a scheduled time is a great way to achieve sustainability and cost savings.

Peace of mind: manage and troubleshoot no matter how remote

When you deploy and manage end-to-end cloud-managed networks, from cameras to access points, switches, and security, it empowers your network team to manage effectively and unlock insights without adding operational complexity.

Once a Meraki switch is plugged into the network, users will automatically gain an intuitive, interactive topology map that provides unparalleled visibility and control for the entire network. With proactive alerts and powerful live tools like packet capture (PCAP), cable test, and cycle port, your team can effectively see everything and troubleshoot on one dashboard.

The refreshed topology map provides an integrated health overview, device details, and client details on a single page. This feature will be available in the Early Access program soon.

Learn what else you can power with the new MS130R

Discover how Meraki can securely power and connect your technology in challenging conditions and experience the peace of mind that centralized management and troubleshooting capabilities bring, even in remote locations. Visit our page to learn more about the new MS130 and MS130R switches or listen to our recent podcast episode.

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Create Experiences With More SaaS

The modern IT practitioner knows that with today’s ever-increasing demands, technology infrastructure is being maxed to its limits. Your infrastructure—from hardware and software to teams and sites—is highly distributed. Much of what you rely on resides outside of your network on the public internet, where you traditionally don’t have control or visibility.

This means that while your team has access to more technologies and tools than ever before, there are also new challenges to creating great experiences across your network.

New capabilities with a hybrid infrastructure

A distributed and hybrid technology infrastructure offers capabilities previously unavailable to businesses. Many IT teams have adopted this model, and as such, the hybridized array of applications and tools they support are being used to capacity, demanding more bandwidth than ever.

This means you’re likely accountable for more touchpoints and have more areas of your network to analyze when issues arise, which inevitably makes it harder to identify and resolve issues, risking downtime when the associated business costs are higher than ever.

Gain visibility of SaaS applications outside your network

To help you provide consistent, always-on experiences, Cisco Meraki is pleased to announce the general availability of support for ThousandEyes on Meraki networks. Natively integrated into Meraki MX security and SD-WAN appliances, ThousandEyes on the Meraki platform enables proactive monitoring of your SaaS applications across the internet and application servers—domains traditionally outside of your IT team’s control.

This reduces the time to identify the root cause of issues and provides detailed insights to prevent negative digital experience of your users.

Meraki offers the only secure SD-WAN solution that fully integrates ThousandEyes agents into its WAN appliances, so that you can configure and run tests efficiently and at scale from the same dashboard you use to manage your networks end-to-end.


 

Get ahead of problems before you’re aware of them

When you’re getting started, you’ll identify an array of core applications and networks that you want to pay close attention to. With this offering, you can quickly activate ThousandEyes agents at scale across your network to continuously monitor SaaS application performance.

Combined with an integrative platform approach to secure SD-WAN (and more), the Meraki platform helps you automatically identify and resolve issues, often before users or administrators are even aware there’s a problem. With ThousandEyes Network Intelligence on the Meraki platform, you can rapidly flag and communicate any performance issues occurring across the enterprise.

Deliver the ‘wow’ factor

Creating technology experiences that wows users, customers, and IT professionals alike is not only possible, but simplified, thanks to this new integration with ThousandEyes. Business customers using Meraki on the Advanced Security and Secure SD-WAN Plus licenses can take advantage of the ThousandEyes integration today by activating it on the Meraki dashboard. Those on the Enterprise license can try the complete Secure SD-WAN Plus experience with ThousandEyes here. You can also call your Meraki rep to learn more.

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