In adopting digital transformation, businesses increasingly rely on connecting cloud-specific services. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated, and in many cases, speed this adoption. By leveraging technology, businesses are likely to continue looking for ways to improve efficiency, and reduce costs, as they navigate these difficult times.
Cisco Meraki Cellular Gateway (MG) is built to address the growing demand for operational reliability and business continuity across industries. MG allows for better performance, quick provisioning, high availability, and redundancy in providing cellular wireless WAN connectivity to geographically dispersed networks.
As businesses are starting to take advantage of the advancements in cellular technology, we’re empowering them to be scalable. The shift towards the distributed application model, workforces, and software-defined technologies is leading to the increased need for API access to the network. The good news is that MG can be configured and managed using the Meraki Dashboard API!
What can the Meraki API do for your cellular WAN connectivity?
Through automation and integrations, the Meraki Dashboard API for MG enables scale, growth, and future-proofing.
IT teams can add new organizations, administrators, cellular networks, and MG devices across thousands of locations in minutes with an automation script. By automating network provisioning and bulk configurations, IT teams can minimize manual and routine tasks, freeing up time to work on more important things such as optimizing for better performance or developing modern apps. The Meraki Dashboard API also offers flexibility in cloning sites or developing templates to help you get MGs deployed easily.
Much of configuration-related set up such as DHCP, LAN, port forwarding rules, subnet pool, and uplink settings, entails repetitive tasks and is prone to human error. Network administrators spend a lot of time on these repetitive configuration and monitoring tasks that can be automated and made error-free using APIs. With MG, customers can do so via APIs to avoid manual error and service downtime—significantly reducing the management workload.
With the Meraki Dashboard API, one of our retail customers was able to rapidly automate deployment and provisioning at more than 2000 distributed locations nationwide. The resulting streamlined operations reduced overhead and costs for them.
Integration and future-proofing
The potential of the Meraki Dashboard API goes beyond faster, seamless, and cost-effective automation. Meraki API services are easy to use, easy to train staff to program with, and ripe for technology partners to continue to build native integrations on top of. For growing businesses, using these API services can significantly increase speed-to-market.
The Cisco Meraki Dashboard API is a RESTful API that uses HTTPS requests to a URL and JSON as a human-readable format. So, what does this mean for our customers? This higher software programmability using structured network data makes it easier to integrate with business logic systems. When building APIs, they can choose from a larger pool of skilled resources. Businesses can build their dashboard for store managers or specific use cases, allowing them to quickly add new services.
Lack of end-to-end visibility is problematic when troubleshooting network issues such as high latency and jitter. By monitoring the cellular connectivity and signal strength of MG devices through APIs, IT teams can save hours of troubleshooting. Meraki APIs make our platform extensible and allow you to be agile in responding to quickly changing business needs. Meraki offers a comprehensive platform that complements out-of-the-box management and analytics for Wireless WAN deployments with the integrations and solutions powered by Meraki APIs.
Organizations across industries are eager to build their Wireless WAN infrastructure on the Meraki platform and some of them already have a head start with our new product line – MG Cellular Gateway. MG provides a solution for optimal cellular signal strength. It gives our customers the flexibility of pairing MG with any Meraki or Cisco ISR/vEdge router or 3rd party router to provide another uplink for SD-WAN, or as a failover or primary link.
MG was only launched a couple of months ago and we’re already releasing new features. There is no better way to see these features in action than to try it out for yourself.
Quick network diagnosis
We’re always seeking to provide capabilities that truly add value to our customer’s business. For cellular troubleshooting, customers have frequently told us how challenging it can get without any visibility into the signal characteristics at their site. This lack of control leads to them taking a hit on business functions that rely on cellular signals.
MG users can now take advantage of this data within the Meraki platform to quickly diagnose what’s affecting cellular connectivity, or what led to performance degradation, through historical stats— signal strength, latency, and loss—that are visual and easy to interpret. By knowing how cellular connectivity is at certain sites at any given time, it’s simple to get to the root cause of network issues. Easy monitoring of live data along with the signal level, signal quality, and connectivity data could potentially save hours of troubleshooting.
It gets even better with an API-driven architecture. MG can be managed completely through APIs, giving customers the flexibility of custom reporting and integrations that they need. Stay tuned for more updates!
How to access
From your Meraki dashboard, go to Monitor->Cellular gateways; select the MG for which you’d like to get the health data, and then go to Uplink from the menu bar. Scroll below to view the historical and connectivity data as far as 30 days in the past.
When you get a call from a wireless user complaining about connectivity problems, what is one of the first questions you might ask? “Where are you exactly?” Knowing precisely where a user is located can be immensely helpful in diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. What AP are they associated to? Are they behind a pillar that could be blocking their wireless signal? Are they in an area of a new building where the network is currently being expanded and might still have some coverage weak spots? This knowledge can often provide an administrator with a good idea of where they should dig in to properly troubleshoot the issue.
Starting today, administrators of Meraki Enterprise networks won’t have to ask where a client is because they’ll know: introducing Meraki Location-Based Services. On each client details page you’ll notice a new map where the current location of the client is clearly indicated on either a Google map or building floorplan (see below screen shot).
In addition to troubleshooting client issues, there are many other situations where being able to pin down a client device’s location can be very useful to administrators, such as tracking down a lost laptop or monitoring a nurse’s progress doing rounds in a hospital with the medicine cart. Typically these capabilities might require additional appliances and third-party software costing $10,000’s, but with Meraki they are provided with all Enterprise networks at no additional cost and without the need to deploy additional gear.
When combined with other Dashboard features like “remote hands” tools and detailed reporting with Traffic Shaper’s application-level visibility, Location-Based Services provides administrators with powerful tools to understand exactly how their network is being used and to quickly troubleshoot client issues remotely. Please let us know what you think of this new feature using the Make a Wish box!
Cloud-based networking is ideally suited to managing multiple sites under a single dashboard – networks like Remington College’s 20 campuses or Epic Management’s 20 clinics are perfect example. Recently, customers suggested a great feature to us that would make multi-site management even easier: Network Cloning. We’re excited to announce that this wish is now a reality, and all Meraki users can try it out today!
Network Cloning is simple; when you create a new network, you now have the option to copy your configuration from an existing network with a single click. This can save lots of time recreating similar configurations when you have multiple sites with corporate standard network configurations, such as in retail chains or corporate offices with multiple satellite branches.
Network Cloning complements other features – cloud-based provisioning, automatic RF optimization, and seamless firmware updates, to name a few – that make deploying branches a breeze. As always, please let us know what you think about this new feature using the Make a Wish box in Dashboard. We welcome your feedback!
We are very excited to announce two new enterprise 802.11n access points: the Meraki MR12 and MR16. These new APs offer across the board upgrades over their predecessors, the venerable MR11 and MR14: improved performance, sleeker design, and even a lower price!
Meraki MR16 ($649)
Dual Concurrent 802.11n for Enterprise/Campus
Single Radio 802.11n for Small Branch/Teleworker
These are the slimmest enterprise 802.11n APs. Measuring in at under 1″ thin, they blend seamlessly into their environment.
We built these APs with the network administrator in mind, making them as fast and easy as possible to deploy. The industrial design makes for easy, 1-handed mounting. Each box contains a complete accessory kit, with gear for wall, drop ceiling, and desktop mounting. No pre-configuration is required – just plug the AP in, and it automatically assumes gateway or mesh mode, and downloads its configuration from the cloud.
Despite its slim profile and lower price, the MR12 and MR16 are actually more powerful than their predecessors, featuring both increased transmit power and receive sensitivity. Highlights include:
Layer 7 Traffic Shaping
Line rate deep packet inspection engine for application QoS
High Capacity Design Memory capacity for 100+ simultaneous users
Built-in Policy Firewall Guest, User and Group Acces Control
4th Generation Chipset Top of the line 2×2 MIMO with spectrum analyzer and transmit power control
Client Enhancements Beamforming, Voice/Video QoS, Band steering
To top it all off, these are green little APs, with 100% recyclable packaging, 90% recyclable components, and a multi-tenant cloud hosted controller that is far more energy efficient than traditional hardware controllers.
We’re incredibly excited about these APs, and the response we’ve received from our beta testers has been very encouraging. We hope that you like them too!
One of the most challenging aspects of managing large distributed networks is troubleshooting issues when the client is across town (or maybe even across the country!). Having on-site IT personnel 24/7 at even small satellite branch offices can require a very large IT staff and is too expensive for most organizations. Meraki networks offer a variety of “remote hands” troubleshooting tools, helping network admins diagnose and resolve many wireless connectivity issues without dispatching IT staff to the site. The ability to run diagnostic checks such as pinging an access point, running a throughput test from Dashboard, or reviewing detailed event logs have been integral to Meraki’s value for distributed networks and organizations with small IT staffs and large footprints.
We are now announcing a set of Live Client Tools that expose even more up-to-the-second information about who is on a wireless network, and further help troubleshoot connectivity issues. Administrators who log into their Enterprise network in Dashboard will notice several new and improved areas. On the Monitor > Overview page, there is now a new addition under the network name showing the number of clients that are associated at that moment:
If you click on the “More” link, you will see an expanded list with more information, including which SSIDs and channels the clients are using. This data is automatically refreshed as long as the “More” link is expanded.
Even cooler, Enterprise customers can change the access points map to show where clients are associated: click the “Options” menu on the map and select “Current clients.”
But the really interesting stuff is on the Access Point and Client detail pages. The Access Point detail page used to look like this:
Now, all of the live tools have been consolidated into a new, cleaner layout. Both Pro and Enterprise networks will benefit from the new layout. Enterprise networks now have two additional features in this area: Current Clients and Ping Client MAC. Clicking on the play icon next to Current Clients will pop up a list of all clients associated to that AP at that instant, including useful information about each client such as MAC, SSID, channel, signal strength, and how long they have been associated. Click on the name of a client to go to its client details page. You’ll even see clients that have associated, but not authenticated (they’re listed in grey). If you click the Ping link next to the client, you can actually ping that client in real time using ARP, as well as get additional information, such as RSSI changes over time and 802.1X identity (if appropriate).
The other new addition, Ping Client MAC, allows you to enter a MAC address and try to ping it. This can be very useful if you are trying to determine if a particular device is on your network at that moment.
There is also a new Live Tools section on the client detail page. From this page you can also ping that individual client, but there are a few additional new tools:
The Locate Client tool allows you to find out whether that client is associated on your network at that moment, and if so, where they’re associated and for how long:
Finally, the Packet Counter tool shows a real-time count of received and sent packets to that client. You can actually see the packet counters roll as you ping the client!
We think these new tools further improve Meraki’s uniquely clear approach to distributed, multi-site network management, a normally challenging task. Network administrators can more quickly resolve their wireless users’ connectivity issues and access accurate real-time data about the exact state of their network.
Meraki’s cloud-based architecture makes it an ideal choice for distributed, multi-site systems of networks, with administrators able to manage up to 1,000 networks from a single web browser using Dashboard. We’ve recently added a feature that makes it even easier to visualize and manage geographically distributed networks. Users who have logged into Dashboard in the last day may have noticed a new link above the network name on the Monitor > Overview page:
The link is the name of the organization that contains the network. (The network selector at the top of the page groups your networks by organization. Many of our network administrators have just one organization, but it’s not uncommon to have more — one for Enterprise networks and one for Pro networks, for example.) Clicking on this link will take you to a new page, the All-Network Overview page:
This displays all of an organization’s networks on single map. These networks are listed at the top of the screen, along with color coded markers so that each network can be easily located on the map below. The usage graph displays cumulative usage across all listed networks. If you mouse over a particular network name, that network’s usage is highlighted on the usage graph, and its network markers are highlighted on the map below.
Jump to a network’s overview page by clicking its name, or jump to a particular access point in any of your networks by double-clicking its marker. If you’d like to see all your networks’ access points color-coded by status, that’s easy too: just uncheck “Color by network” on the map’s Options menu.
You can also get to the All-Network Overview page by choosing “All-network overview” from the network selector:
The All-Network Overview page is available today to all Meraki network administrators with two or more networks. This is a great tool to assist with managing large, multi-site deployments and we are very excited about this new addition to Dashboard.