Archive for the ‘Company Blog’ Category

Powering New Customer Experience Possibilities

Employe at work in a retail store talking on a cell phone

Imagine a customer walks into your retail location and effortlessly connects to fast, secure Wi-Fi on their phone. Instantly, their app engages them with tailored location-specific information like available coupons and new products, all based on personal preferences and buying behavior. When they’re ready to check out, they skip the register and leave without the wait thanks to cashierless checkout, enjoying a truly convenient and frictionless experience.  

Creating such exceptional customer experiences is vital in today’s competitive business landscape. But behind the scenes, achieving this requires a robust network, integrated IoT devices, and an immense amount of data traveling the network in real time. The rapid advancement of AI-powered experiences—from hyper-personalization to in-store augmented reality (AR)—has opened up countless possibilities, but it has also placed a significant strain on network infrastructures (and the IT teams who support them). 

Your customer experience is only as good as your network 

To deliver exceptional experiences across every touchpoint and every location requires simplifying network operations. A Cisco cloud-managed network enables you to ditch silos and provide reliable, high-performing connectivity at any site, no matter how remote. This allows your employees to unlock productivity and collaborate faster, resulting in better interactions and faster problem solving for your customers.  

Simplifying network operations allows your team to shift from keeping the lights on to delivering innovative, seamless experiences to customers.  

Powering more possibilities starts with scaling the network across locations 

To empower networking teams with more connectivity and flexibility without costly overhead, Cisco is introducing a new, versatile Meraki switching lineup: 

MS130: Cost-effective mGig access switches for remote branches and small/medium campuses 

  • An extensive product family with 8/12/24/48 port options in compact and full rack size  
  • Perfect for connecting and protecting retail point of sale setups, physical security, video conferencing/streaming, or higher bandwidth Wi-Fi deployments, all while reducing operating and deployment costs 

MS130R*: First Meraki cloud-managed ruggedized PoE switch for harsh hot/cold/tight environments 

  • Extends reliable PoE power and connectivity with IP30 protection and extreme temperature (-40 °F to 158 °F) support.  
  • Ideal for outdoor cameras and access points in temperature-challenged environments like parking lots (for physical security and/or seamless curbside pickup), menu board setup,skiing resorts, and pop-up events 

Catalyst Meraki 9300* switches for large campuses 

  • These switches combine the power of the industry-leading Catalyst switching portfolio with the scalability of Meraki cloud management   
  • With the Meraki out-of-box experience, your team can maximize operational efficiency from day 0 and scale faster without compromising performance  

* Available in late 2023 

Protect networks and privacy at scale with intelligent, intent-based security  

Just like the retail experience we mentioned, these new applications can create a surge of devices accessing the network.  

It is crucial to have granular visibility and control over network traffic and access to protect data and ensure compliance from core to edge. Powered by Cisco TrustSec Security Group Tags (SGT) technology, Adaptive Policy dynamically identifies and enforces security policies for users, devices, and applications with network-based micro-segmentation.   

We are thrilled to extend Adaptive Policy hardware support** to MS130 mGig models, MS130R, and Catalyst Meraki 9300, enabling you to safely reduce the attack surface across different environments at scale.   

Speed innovation with simplified, smarter cloud-managed networks 

The true magic of Cisco Meraki starts even before the package arrives at your site. With true zero-touch provisioning, large-scale deployments can be completed in minutes, saving time and cost without dedicated on-site IT staff.  

All Cisco Meraki solutions can be effortlessly managed through the same intuitive cloud-managed dashboard, providing your network team with deep contextualized visibility and remote management without complexity or additional operational costs.   

Learn more  

Talk to your Cisco Meraki account team today. Register for our webinar to learn more about how these new Meraki cloud-managed switches deliver enhanced connectivity, increased flexibility, and reduced overhead, empowering your organization to expand the possibilities of the customer experience. 

** Adaptive Policy currently only supports MS390 and Catalyst Meraki 9300 with an Advanced license. MS130 mGig (-X) models and MS130R are hardware-ready for the Adaptive Policy feature, with a future firmware upgrade and advanced license.  

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Powering New Customer Experience Possibilities

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. 

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Solving the SD-WAN Managed Service Puzzle

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. 

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Your Competitive Edge Is a Cloud Strategy

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

Colleagues in conference room

This post was originally published on

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.

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on How scale and automation can enhance employee and constituent lives—really

Enhance Threat Detection at Schools

Students in a classroom raising hands

This article was originally published on

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.

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Enhance Threat Detection at Schools

Ecosystem Stars Shine at Cisco Live U.S.

Cisco Live US

The Cisco Meraki ecosystem tech partner stars were aligned at this year’s Cisco Live 2023 in Las Vegas. I promised it would be the biggest and best show yet, and they made good on that promise. How?

  • Standing-room only for the Meraki theater session in the DevNet Zone, showcasing 20+ Cisco ecosystem tech partners
  • Ecosystem partners presenting at every turn, from the Cisco Co-Sell booths to the expo floor and demos in the Cloud Networking booth
  • Speakers from our very own Cisco team presenting inside our partner tech booths, along with Red Hat, Tufin, and more
  • Even the cameras that caught attendees lined up to get a photo with the Vince Lombardi trophy were powered by WaitTime 

So, if you still missed the ecosystem partner activity at Cisco Live 2023, don’t fret. Here is a look at what our partners showcased on-site and, more importantly, how you can get engaged with them today.

Partners took the (show) floor by storm

In total, we had more than 20 partners live at the event—15 of them with sponsored booths. Each partner also had an opportunity to demo their solution and app in the Cisco Networking Cloud Ecosystem booth. Here, audiences learned how to create innovative new experiences powered by Cisco Networking Cloud when integrated with our comprehensive partner ecosystem. 

“The overall feeling I had from this event is that (we) really felt part of the Meraki family.”

Noël-Edouard Chenu, Founder & CEO, Boundless Digital

Attendees were given an opportunity to see firsthand how ecosystem partner solutions can accelerate IT and business outcomes. Each tech partner showcased how their app—built with Meraki APIs and available on the Meraki Marketplace—can be used to create exceptional experiences for everyone.

Wi-Fi and RTLS solutions launches

The fun didn’t stop there. Our ecosystem tech partners had great customer-focused announcements at the event. 

Highlight launched a new Meraki solution for its Service Assurance Platform. The team debuted new functionality for Meraki Wi-Fi and Meraki switches that complement existing support for Meraki SD-WAN. Attendees learned how—through Meraki dashboard APIs—Highlight’s platform now brings Meraki Wi-Fi, switches, and SD-WAN into a single dashboard.

Another key announcement was made by AiRISTA Flow, a leader in real-time location services (RTLS) solutions. Attendees were introduced to support application hosting on Cisco Catalyst Series access points. This update by AiRISTA streamlines the deployment of customer devices, enabling their teams to quickly scale up RTLS across locations.

Packing bags for Melbourne + Amsterdam

Cisco Live U.S. has quickly become a center for ecosystem partners to showcase their solutions and get attendees engaged with a vast portfolio of solutions that span products, industries, and experiences. Hundreds of attendees had an opportunity to meet in-person with ecosystem partners and learned how to scale their products and services. 

“Our on-site team had great conversations with customers who love our products, prospects who are ready to buy, and partners who want to engage more deeply with us in generating sales.”

Amber Ukena, Director, Partner Marketing, Ekahau

If you missed out on Cisco Live U.S., you can connect with our partners today by requesting a demo on our Marketplace page. You can also watch this on-demand session from the event, Innovate with Meraki APIs and its Partner Marketplace.

Now is also the time to start marking your calendar to visit our ecosystem tech partners at the upcoming Cisco Live Melbourne 2023 and Cisco Live Amsterdam 2024 events. Sign up now to be notified when it’s time to register.

See you then!

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Ecosystem Stars Shine at Cisco Live U.S.

Securing the Future of Retail

secure payment

In today’s digital age, the retail industry faces numerous challenges concerning the security of both physical and virtual assets. With the rise of e-commerce and the increasing prevalence of cyber threats, the convergence of physical security and cybersecurity has become critical for retailers. Brands are responding by increasing their spending on security solutions. Global security revenues in retail are headed for strong growth in the next few years, from $7 billion in 2019 to $12 billion by 2025

Bringing together these two realms under a holistic approach highlights the growing significance of security for retailers. Let’s explore five areas where cybersecurity and physical security are top-of-mind for retailers. 

Integrating physical and cyber systems

In the retail industry, physical and cyber systems are no longer isolated entities but interconnected networks. For instance, point-of-sale (POS) systems integrate physical payment terminals with digital transaction processing, making them susceptible to cyber breaches. A successful cyber attack could compromise customer data, financial transactions, and even disrupt in-store operations. Thus, securing the cyber infrastructure surrounding these physical systems is paramount.

Protecting customer data

Retailers handle a vast amount of customer data, including personal and financial information. Cybersecurity breaches, such as data breaches or ransomware attacks, can result in the theft or exposure of sensitive data. In 2022, the average cost of a data breach reached a record high of US$4.35 million. However, many experts estimate that average costs could reach $5 million in 2023, leading to severe consequences for both customers and businesses. Retailers must act now to implement robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard customer data and maintain their trust.

Securing Wi-Fi

Offering free Wi-Fi in stores has gained popularity among customers, but it also brings cybersecurity and physical security concerns. Without proper safeguards, the store’s network is vulnerable to cyber threats and data breaches. To safeguard customer data and internal systems, it’s crucial to implement strong cybersecurity measures like network encryption and authentication protocols. Additionally, physical security measures are necessary to prevent unauthorized access to network equipment. Enhancing visibility through appropriate lighting and the presence of video cameras can also act as a deterrent to potential intruders. In addition, the use of door sensors can detect the opening and closing of entryways to restricted areas or after business hours, notifying security personnel of any unauthorized access attempts.

Physical asset protection

In addition to cyber threats, retailers must also address physical security concerns. For instance, organized retail crime, theft, and inventory shrinkage pose significant challenges. Implementing advanced surveillance technologies such as video analytics and object detection can help deter criminal activities. These solutions can also be used to identify and track potential threats within the retail environment. Advanced surveillance technologies such as video analytics can be used to identify and track potential threats not only to prevent criminal activity, but also to enhance employee/associate and customer safety. 

By implementing these technologies as part of a comprehensive physical security strategy, retailers can deter hostile or violent behavior, prevent incidents before they occur, and improve emergency response times. 

Supply chain security

The retail industry relies on complex supply chains involving multiple stakeholders. A cyber breach in any part of the supply chain could have far-reaching consequences. By converging physical security and cybersecurity, retailers can implement measures like real-time product tracking, secure data sharing, and vendor risk assessments. Such practices enhance supply chain security, reducing the likelihood of cyber attacks or physical disruptions.

To thrive in the evolving digital landscape, retailers must invest in robust cybersecurity measures while fortifying their physical security infrastructure. Furthermore, maintaining regulatory compliance, staying updated on emerging threats, and fostering a culture of security awareness are essential components of a comprehensive security strategy.

By prioritizing the convergence of physical security and cybersecurity, retailers can safeguard their operations, protect customer trust, and establish a competitive edge in an increasingly interconnected retail ecosystem. 

Take the first step toward enhancing your retail security strategy and read our retail solution guide today!
You can also visit our safe environments page to learn more about making your workspace safer—digitally and physically.

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Securing the Future of Retail

The Network Management Journey

Woman working on laptop

Cisco Meraki is committed to continuous improvement, in particular when it comes to our cloud-monitoring capabilities. We know that for our customers, the ability to intuitively manage complex network environments is of paramount importance. That’s why we view the build of our management platform as a journey rather than a destination, and it’s why we are constantly assessing and improving the power of our dashboard.

Recent customer feedback has directed us to focus on three key areas: the use of applied artificial intelligence in network management, improved access to network data visibility, and improved functionality for managing energy usage to help accelerate organization-wide sustainability initiatives. 

Applied AI for cloud management

The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) technology in our management capabilities is not new, but we are always finding ways to use the tech for even more exciting and innovative networking solutions. Two of these new solutions are the applied AI busy hour and channel-planning features. By harnessing the power of intelligent machine learning, our dashboard now optimizes network efficiency, automates management, and minimizes potential bottlenecks during peak usage. 

These features analyze historical data, learn network congestion patterns, and automatically adjust channel allocation to ensure seamless connectivity. With AI as a guiding force, network administrators can now optimize performance effortlessly and automatically, enabling them to focus on strategic initiatives.

Improved network visibility and access to critical data

Powerful AI-automation and data-aggregation technology is exciting, but without intuitive visibility it can lose some of its luster. With the introduction of new features like Roaming Analytics and Network Service Health, Meraki remains focused on empowering network administrators with unparalleled insights to inform intelligent decision-making. 

These new solutions serve as one-stop network data overview tools—enabling administrators to identify areas of potential improvement and optimize coverage. Specifically, Roaming Analytics provides an improved user interface (UI) and comprehensive visibility into client roaming behavior. 

The Network Service Health tool consolidates real-time data from various sources, offering a holistic view of network performance while proactively identifying potential issues. By leveraging these features, administrators can ensure optimal uptime and connection metrics for an exceptional user experience.

Empowering sustainability goals

Our dashboard solutions are always evolving, but you may be asking how these new capabilities can help your organization achieve actual, concrete goals. One function of our dashboard that has recently seen immense improvement is that it helps our customers accelerate their organization-wide sustainability initiatives. 

With port scheduling, for example, administrators can monitor and remotely power down switching ports that are not in use and set time parameters on port activity. This can lead to positive outcomes—we’ve seen customers attain 50% greater energy savings through effective port management. 

Recently, this feature has been improved upon with added port notification suppression features, limiting noise and allowing for a more focused management experience. Your network can now work quietly in the background to propel your sustainability initiatives—automatically powering down dozens of PoE devices and saving your org thousands of dollars and kilowatt hours.

The journey is not over

The ever-evolving Meraki cloud-management platform has been on a remarkable journey of transformation, elevating network management to new heights. Through the integration of applied AI, enhanced visibility functionality, and sustainability-focused tools, our dashboard automates, streamlines, and optimizes network operations. 

As we continue to push the boundaries of innovation, we invite our customers to join us on this exciting, constantly evolving journey. Embrace the power of Meraki and unlock the potential of your network. 

Learn more about these new features and many more with an instant demo of the Meraki dashboard.

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on The Network Management Journey

Tackling the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud Security

Colleagues collaborating over laptop on a train

The benefits of cloud services—along with the advent of hybrid workplaces—have prompted organizations to spend almost $74 billion on cloud infrastructure in 2021, up about 9% from 2020. According to Gartner, by 2026, public cloud spending will account for more than 45% of all worldwide enterprise IT spending, up from less than 17% just five years earlier. What about hybrid cloud security? 

Strong cybersecurity, privacy, and trust practices are imperative to protecting your business and people from online threats and risks, wherever they work. According to our 2023 Global Networking Trends Report, 41% of respondents said that securing user access to cloud-based applications is a top priority for 2023. All of this cloud focus means that most organizations will be tasked with managing and securing a hybrid cloud environment.

What is a hybrid cloud?

Today, many businesses are somewhere along the path of cloud migration as they seek the benefits of cloud services, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), along with some level of on-premises networking, storage, and software. Some of the most well-known public cloud services include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services (AWS). They offer remote storage and SaaS applications, either for free or through purchase. Public cloud providers typically secure the infrastructure while customers must secure the data and workloads themselves.

Meanwhile, private clouds are maintained on premises for restricted access, with the data available only to authorized users. You can rely on a technology partner to provide your private cloud or build and manage it with your own IT team and data center. This offers organizations more control than with public clouds, but they tend to cost more, both to deploy and manage.

hybrid cloud model
A hybrid cloud model

Over the past few years, organizations have been shifting workloads and apps from their data centers to multicloud environments. Most of their critical traffic is now internet-based, but they have not been able to move everything to the cloud and instead continue to rely on data centers, which are the heart of traditional architectures. For various reasons—complexity, regulations, staffing issues—many organizations find themselves in a hybrid cloud situation. In fact, our 2023 Global Networking Trends Report found that 92% of IT leaders report using more than one public cloud and over a third reported using four to more than ten. That’s a lot of added complexity!

What is hybrid cloud security?     

Typical network security entails the protection of a computer network and the data it contains. Network security’s primary job is to keep sensitive data safe from cyber attacks and to maintain the usefulness and stability of the network. Before internet and cloud services came into being, most security efforts involved siloed protection for on-premises systems and data centers. Hybrid cloud security encompasses safeguarding on-premises systems, cloud services, and everything in between.

The hybrid cloud, as a transition state for organizations that have not been able to move fully to the cloud, benefits companies by letting them manage workloads between on-site data centers and the public cloud. But with these advances come complex security issues and challenges.

What are the challenges of hybrid cloud security?

Why worry about hybrid cloud security? Let’s take a step back for a moment. Gartner suggests that most enterprise data centers are expected to move to the cloud by 2025, and the pandemic-fueled remote and hybrid working trend has intensified this push. The overall shift in network traffic from physical data centers to virtual public cloud infrastructure means more traffic is navigating public environments, with security becoming critical. The use of public clouds as IaaS and SaaS will continue to grow, yet traditional security approaches will not keep pace and will have a difficult time scaling.

We found that 41% of respondents of the Cisco 2023 Global Networking Trends Report said that securing access to cloud-based applications, mobile devices, or cloud-based solutions is the biggest obstacle IT leaders need to overcome when delivering on digital initiatives.

A very real challenge to maintaining security in a hybrid cloud situation is a skill shortage of professionals who understand the technology. Consider how long it takes your team to neutralize a new and unknown threat. Responding swiftly and effectively can be undermined by many factors, including:

  • Mediocre threat intelligence
  • Fragmented architecture
  • Multi-step critical firmware updates
  • Human error 
  • Complex network security

What are the top security risks for a hybrid cloud?

Complex networking configurations aren’t the only risks involved in securing hybrid cloud operations. Traffic to the cloud, into the cloud, and across clouds must be secured and encrypted, especially when networking models differ across clouds (for example, using AWS for one and Google for another) it can be difficult to create secure connections among multiple cloud infrastructures.

As the environment becomes more complicated, monitoring and alerting systems must be configured specifically to catch real security breaches. However, when different cloud infrastructures are connected, real-time threat detection systems can sometimes erroneously identify the traffic between clouds as malicious. Such false alarms can be frustrating, and teams risk missing valid alerts in the clutter of erroneous warnings.

In addition to network-related vulnerabilities, SaaS apps can bring security exposure. For instance, users can fall prey to email phishing scams and/or experience frustration with authentication. This hindrance can lead users to employ workarounds that foil your attempt to keep systems safe and secure.

Hybrid cloud security architecture elements

Keep in mind that hybrid or multicloud environments increase operational complexity and can put security resilience at risk. Network complexity is often at odds with business agility and IT teams need dynamic solutions that feature centralized control over policy, access, and identity to deliver trusted, secure experiences at scale.

hybrid cloud vs. private cloud vs. public cloud
A hybrid cloud security model

Many organizations look to evolve to a unified Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution to provide rich visibility, proactive insight, and comprehensive control for seamless IT management. Or they might choose cloud-managed access, like Cisco Meraki offers, with enforcement still happening via a virtual firewall appliance deployed in the cloud.

The essentials of a hybrid cloud security architecture include cloud-based security services such as a secure web gateway, cloud-delivered and virtual firewalls, DNS-layer security, robust traffic visibility and analytics through cloud access security broker (CASB), and data loss prevention. The security solution must also be able to receive real-time proactive threat updates from a credible source, such as Cisco Talos Intelligence. This will help keep your network, data, and users secure while freeing your IT team from tracking issues manually.

Best practices for ensuring hybrid cloud security

Despite the challenges we’ve discussed, organizations can employ certain best-practice tactics in a hybrid cloud architecture to reduce potential exposure. As you work to secure your hybrid cloud, be sure to choose a platform that can easily adapt to market changes, either natively or through trusted third parties. You may also want to consider choosing a platform that allows a choice between on-premises and cloud security functions—whichever is right for your specific use case within your environment.

You’ll also want to streamline your environment to avoid complexity. For instance, look for solutions that allow you to manage everything through one dashboard rather than dealing with multiple interfaces. You’ll want the ability to monitor WAN, access, and IoT technologies in one place with end-to-end visibility. And you want to see the overall health of each network and proactively solve issues before they become critical.

In addition, consider the skill sets necessary to implement, configure, and manage the security solution. You’ll reduce costs and the chance of human error when you choose technology that is easy to use and does not require specialized training.

How Meraki can help secure your hybrid cloud infrastructure

Meraki operates the industry’s largest-scale cloud networking service. Our cloud platform powers millions of networks worldwide and connects hundreds of millions of devices every day. The Meraki platform is robust yet simple to use. It can scale to fit the needs of businesses of every size, supporting networks with hundreds of thousands of devices at the enterprise level, as well as small businesses with only a handful of users.

In cybersecurity, we know that every minute matters. With Meraki, you can move at “the speed of cloud,” automatically responding to new threats in just minutes. In fact, security is a strategic priority for Meraki. We design and build all products with security in mind, and we’ll help you build greater network resiliency and strengthen your security posture while safely connecting users across any point of service for secure access. You’ll be able to deliver exceptional experiences that are seamless and secure yet easy to deploy and manage.

Our security technologies are delivered and updated through the cloud automatically. As new threat signatures or updates become available, we deploy them across all our customers, so they don’t have to think about firmware upgrades or schedule network downtime. In fact, Meraki can respond to new threats in less than ten minutes!

Benefit from hybrid cloud security today

The hybrid cloud reflects the transition between 100% on-premises and 100% cloud systems. While most companies fall somewhere in the middle, no matter where you are in your cloud journey, the Meraki platform can manage and secure your network from campus or branch to data center and multicloud.

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Tackling the Challenges of Hybrid Cloud Security

Driving Transformation in Manufacturing

Two colleagues in a warehouse with tablet PC

This article was originally published on Manufacturing Dive.

Automating manufacturing processes is a crucial goal of many digital transformation projects. The transition to digital initiatives helps manufacturers achieve operational efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability. 

For many factories, automation relies on Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology to enable everything from system controls and asset tracking to predictive maintenance and autonomous robots. The foundation supporting IIoT technologies is resilient networks—on-premises or cloud-based—that facilitate robust data collection, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and apply predictive analytics to keep the entire infrastructure adaptable and sustainable. 

IT plays a critical role in helping manufacturing organizations scale by using data-driven manufacturing to enhance productivity, thereby accelerating Industry 4.0 projects using automation to enhance the workforce and automating operational technology to increase safety and security. 

Data-driven manufacturing increases productivity

To keep up with the rapid pace of change in manufacturing, IT leaders need deeper visibility into the network and thousands of connected endpoints. By continuously collecting data from manufacturing floor sensors and IIoT devices, IT can help track what is happening NOW and provide dashboards for plant managers and engineers so they can identify trends, predict outcomes, and detect potential problems before they affect production. 

IT must also address how a manufacturing organization can efficiently scale to encompass new products, services, and customers. Automating network management is essential to enabling IT to rapidly change network configurations, add security policies, and extend connectivity to new locations. For example, when demand for certain goods increases dramatically—as was the case for medical equipment and supplies during the pandemic—the processes already in place must quickly scale to produce new products or modify existing ones. That can mean adding new warehouses, expanding factory floor lines, and reconfiguring supply chains. To support these changes, IT needs the ability to scale by expanding wireless connectivity to new locations, onboarding thousands of different device types, and integrating new partners into the supply chain. 

Industry 4.0 poses ongoing challenges for IT

Manufacturing IT teams face ongoing challenges as organizations embark on Industry 4.0 initiatives to digitalize the existing infrastructure to adapt to new products and markets dynamically. To embark on the Industry 4.0 journey, IT needs to connect distributed computing resources at scale so the workforce can access applications from wherever they are to monitor and control operations in real time. In addition, IT needs to support the ability to collect data from sensors added to existing equipment on the plant floor and to remote edge locations.

Ebook Read the Top Tech Trends in Manufacturing Ebook

But managing these distributed computing resources and providing secure connectivity adds a layer of complexity to IT operations. To simplify the complex, IT can apply AI and ML tools to monitor computing resource usage and balance network traffic loads by dynamically choosing the most efficient routes. AI/ML systems can automate troubleshooting with predictive alerts that warn of abnormal behaviors before they can affect production. 

Augmenting the workforce for productivity and retention

With all the technology woven throughout manufacturing processes, it’s critical to keep human-centric consideration at the forefront of planning for automation and scale. Recent economic challenges coupled with a steadily retiring workforce have led to staffing shortages and the loss of skill sets. Automating processes to minimize manual repetitive tasks enables people to concentrate on mentoring the incoming workforce and focus on more creative work tasks to keep them engaged and learning.

Another way to combat repetitive labor processes in some manufacturing roles is to employ robotics to perform tasks such as delivering materials from the warehouse, safely manipulating massive loads, and working in hazardous environments. Cobots, or collaborative robots, are increasingly used to supplement human labor, taking on the repetitive strain of assembly processes and freeing human ingenuity on production lines to improve quality outcomes. These semi-autonomous robots require ultra-low latency networks to function safely and adapt to the environment around them. IT must ensure reliable connectivity so robotic systems can perform 24×7 as production schedules require. Robotics in either form elevate efficiency while making the workforce safer and more productive. 

Automate operational technology for safety and security

Building on the safety that automated robotics can bring into the factory, networked smart cameras and motion sensors enable operational technology (OT) managers to monitor security, environmental changes, and personnel safety throughout warehouses, plant floors, and data centers from a central location. By adding a layer of ML to analyze the data streaming from these devices, humans don’t need to continuously monitor every location because they are alerted only when predefined anomalies occur. Combined with sensors for temperature, water leaks, and humidity levels, vast areas of a manufacturing facility can be monitored 24×7 to minimize interruptions to operations by accidents, security breaches, or environmental impacts. 

Network automation: a recipe for success

As manufacturing organizations scale processes to adapt to market changes, new products, and customer requirements, so must the networks that tie every device, application, and person together over distributed organizations and hybrid workforces to match the needs of the enterprise. Automating technology and processes enables IT to adapt to and manage complex industrial networks. Working toward automating everything prepares the manufacturing enterprise for growth and success. Learn how a cloud-managed platform that converges IT, IoT, and physical manufacturing environments can unlock countless possibilities.

Posted in Company Blog | Comments Off on Driving Transformation in Manufacturing