Archive for the ‘Company Blog’ Category

New MS Features for Large-scale Networks

Let’s face it – we tend to love acronyms in the networking world. HTTP, DHCP, ACK, NAC and NIC. Are we speaking your language yet? Great! Because our team has been busy adding new capabilities designed for large-scale networks, and they’re packed full of acronyms. Let’s take a deeper look!

 

Multi-domain Authentication (MDA)

Secure networks often have port security features enabled on wired ports, such as 802.1X with RADIUS authentication. Multidomain authentication (MDA) allows both a data device and voice device, such as an IP phone, to authenticate on the same switch port. In the examples below, see how enabling Multi-Domain mode affects the authentication scenario:

no MDA graphic

In Single-host mode, only one device is required to authenticate

MDA graphic

In Multi-Domain mode, both devices are required to authenticate

Without MDA enabled, authenticated IP phones containing a built-in Ethernet switch will allow any devices that subsequently connect downstream on the LAN, without requiring additional authentication. MDA adds enhanced security and control by enforcing per-client authentication for both the IP phone and anything connecting in downstream, such as a workstation. See our online documentation to learn more about this feature and how to enable it.

 

Change of Authorization (CoA) with URL Redirect

We recently announced support for Network Access Control (NAC) solutions, including Cisco’s own Identity Services Engine (ISE). For any network that relies on URL redirects – a central web authentication process that lets you redirect any device that plugs into the network to an authentication server – Meraki MS switches now support URL redirect requests as part of our Change of Authorization (CoA) features. Additionally, Meraki switches allow you to optionally configure a walled garden, letting you add IP ranges that users are permitted to access prior to authentication. This feature is currently available on the MS225, MS250, MS350 and MS400 series. For further information please visit documentation.meraki.com.

 

Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM) Routing and IGMP Querier

Multicast has become an increasingly more prevalent method of transmitting media, particularly for media-rich solutions such as overhead paging and IP video. With many networks now relying on switches to handle routing of IP traffic, support for IGMP querying and multicast routing has become critical, particularly in larger networks.

We are excited to announce new features that make handling of multicast traffic a breeze:

  • Multicast routing support is now available on the MS350 and MS400 series, enabling larger scale networks to handle routing of multicast traffic via PIM sparse mode.
  • IGMP Querier support can now be configured on all MS switches.

See our online documentation on these features to learn more!

 

These features are rolling out over the next few weeks and will be available on the latest software update for MS switches. For questions or support, please email [email protected]

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New Year, New Features for the MC74

Just in time for the new year, the MC engineering team has been hard at work building exciting new MC solutions for different use cases. Today, for businesses that have receptionists or executive assistants, say goodbye to archaic attendant consoles, and hello to the improved MC74.

For customers that already have an MC solution, call into the Meraki support line to have these beta features enabled on your existing hardware, free of charge.

The MC74 can now make and receive calls on up to 8 lines, to manage all the different phone numbers that your business runs on. These lines can be set easily through the dashboard. All inbound calls will indicate which number they are calling, and outbound calls can use a simple drop-down menu on the dial screen to select which line to use.

2

For executive assistants that manage multiple high-priority lines, favorite contacts can be set and seen in a separate tab on the contacts page. This will also work in the phone portal.

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 1.52.25 PM

Not only will Favorites provide quick access to specific priority contacts, the Presence feature will also alert you to the status of each of those contacts. If they are on a call, the presence button will turn red, and if they are open to a call, it will be green.

3

However, even if someone’s line is available, they themselves might not be. In this case, receptionists may want to do a warm transfer and ask if the person can take a call. To accomplish this, we’ve added the Ask to Transfer feature, which allows you to check in with the person you want to transfer to, and either transfer the call over or cancel the transfer if the person is busy.

Not all calls that come in are urgent, and sometimes the caller simply wants to leave a voicemail. In these cases, we’ve built a Send to Voicemail feature that allows you to transfer a call directly to the inbox of any other MC74 in your network.

7

For more information about the MC74 and Meraki’s complete communications solution, attend an Intro to Cloud Managed Communications webinar or contact your Meraki rep for an MC trial today.

Good things come in small packages

Last week we were thrilled to announce the launch of several new switching and wireless products, including our latest wireless access point, the MR30H: a wall plate AP with integrated switch ports designed for in-room hospitality deployments, higher education dormitories, and other multi-dwelling use cases.

Also included in this launch is our newest 802.11ac Wave 2 access point for general-purpose wireless: the MR33.

Meraki MR33

The new Cisco Meraki MR33 wireless access point.

 

We’re excited for this newest addition to our entry-level portfolio because the MR33 takes advantage of Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) capabilities that have become available in the new, 11ac Wave 2 wireless standards. MU-MIMO improves the efficiency of an AP because it allows multiple client devices to be served simultaneously.  Before MU-MIMO, an access point could only respond to one client device at a time, albeit at such a rapid speed that it might seem as if multiple devices were being addressed at once. The MR33 sports a 2×2:2-stream MU-MIMO architecture, meaning it can serve 2 concurrent client devices.

Another reason we’re excited about the MR33 is it’s sleek size. It’s roughly half the volume of an MR32 (in fact, it easily fits inside an MR32 case — and also a back pocket).

 

The MR32 (top) as compared to the MR33 (bottom).

 

We like to say it’s burrito-sized.

 

MR33-burrito-1

Hot sauce is always a good idea.

 

Or that it’s small enough to fit into a fruit basket.

 

MR33 and orange

Still life: MR33 with orange. Not oil on canvas. Circa 2017.

 

Or that it’s a perfect holiday stocking stuffer.

 

MR33 and gnome -1

The gnomenclature of image subtitles is a fine art.

 

In a nutshell: the MR33 is an ideal AP to deploy if you want to be discreet or don’t have a lot of ceiling or wall room for hanging gear.  The MR33 comes with all the features — like out-of-the-box Location Analytics, dedicated wireless intrusion prevention, and automated RF selection — that you’ve come to expect from Meraki wireless access points, so provides robust, basic wireless coverage at a great value.

To learn more about Meraki wireless products, please check out our wireless products page or register for one of our many live webinars — and receive a free access point for attending!

 

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A Breath of Fresh Speed

I’d like to open this post up with a quote I came across recently:

The electric light did not come from the continuous improvement of the candle.

– Oren Harari

I find this quote mirrors what many technology companies including Meraki strive for – to improve not only the products offered, but to innovate beyond the “cold steel” and revolutionize the experience in using those products entirely.

Last week we announced several exciting updates to our wireless and switching portfolios. The brand new MS225 and MS250 access switches received a warm welcome as they introduce high bandwidth uplinks and physical stacking across the complete Meraki switching portfolio – something many have asked for. Beyond the speeds and feeds our team has continued to strive for perfection when designing these new products, taking in a lot of the feedback we’ve received over the years from customers and partners, and doing everything we can to make the entire experience easy and straightforward. No quirky brackets to install or initialize commands to remember – just true plug-and-play technology that becomes an intelligent part of your network infrastructure the moment you connect it.

The new Meraki MS250 switches.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this product announcement is that the new models are offered at the exact same price as the previous generation, and can integrate seamlessly with an existing network. Upgrading from existing Meraki switches is done with the click of a button via our cloud cloning feature, so you can add higher bandwidth and redundancy in minutes.

We hope you’re as excited as we are about this refreshing update to our MS lineup. If you’re interested in learning more about the all new Meraki switches or giving them a try, we invite you to check out our website, or if you haven’t yet, register for one of our upcoming webinars!

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Take your pick

Last month we shared the exciting news about our new dashboard localization project to translate the Meraki management interface into French, German, Japanese and Spanish. At the time of that post, a language selection option was made available to customers who explicitly requested it by contacting our support team.

Following a rush of enthusiasm and feedback we were able to quickly bring the translations project closer to completion, and so we are now delighted to announce that dashboard localization is now an option for all Meraki customers.

To try it out, just click on ‘my profile’ on any dashboard page once logged-in.

myprofile

Then scroll to the bottom of the page to find the language selector.

Screen Shot 2016-11-16 at 3.32.56 PM

We’re excited to hear feedback about this pioneering option for our customers. Please help us spread the word to colleagues and customers who speak these languages and together we can bring simpler IT management to all four corners of the globe.

Enjoy posts like these? Click the subscribe button on our blog home page to receive updates like these whenever we post.

Happy Holidays from everyone on the translation team at Meraki.

 

2016 Systems Manager (W)rap Up

As everyone starts to wrap up the calendar year, it seems like a good time to rap about some of the things Systems Manager, Cisco’s Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution, has added in 2016. In case a rap isn’t intriguing, then maybe we can call this a poem.

Systems Manager Rap/Poem: 2016
About a week before Christmas and recapping this year
There was security spreading – amidst all the fear
OS updates and patches, in one easy click
No adding viruses to Windows, through USB stick
iPad, iPhone, and Mac are bringing much more to do
Also wallpaper and homescreen, are things to edit now too


There’s a vault for your files, and you’re seeing CYOD
Which means you choose what you get, it’s not just BYOD
For the Fast lane at work you want Apple and Cisco
First to help were your friends, here in San Francisco (‘Meraki’ – backup vocals)
We’re on the Gartner MQ (Magic Quadrant) because we’re big in the mix
For all your EMM needs, and not just one, small fix

App config brings settings fitted for all the users
Making a custom experience and a choice for your choosers
We have an API for this and we have one for that
GET a device you need and PUT a lock where it’s at
We launched tools for teachers with peace of mind to us all
And ways to guide the students – even in study hall (‘hall pass!’ – backup vocals)

Track the cellular data to manage all of the mobile
Keep that LTE in line, when it’s feeling too noble
With Sentry VPN you keep security teams happy
While making CIOs thrilled and the UX (user experience) not crappy
User experience is the best and even more than before
Just go to MDM > Settings and see it’s never a chore

Hook:
SM for the win (FTW), that’s what they say
We use it all the way East, and back to the Bay
Cisco’s enterprise mobility, so you know it’s great
With SM you get features, with none of the wait

SM for the win (FTW), that’s what they say
We use it all the way East, and back to the Bay
Cisco’s enterprise mobility, so you know it’s great
With SM you get features, with none of the wait

 

This is only a fraction of the things we’ve done this year.
To check out the buzz and start a no-hassle trial, click here.

If you like this and want more, then let us know on Facebook or Twitter
– maybe we’ll even add a recording. 😏

Happy Holidays
– Wolfe, out.

On the Road with the Hardware Team

By Andrew Dupree

Cisco Meraki ships a lot of hardware. In 2016 alone, we’ve sold millions of units to over 100 countries, and those numbers are only going up as Meraki continues to expand. For all of us Merakians, our continued growth is exciting and motivating.

The only downside—shipping this many top-quality hardware products is really hard! Each unit must be carefully designed, manufactured, and tested. Getting this gargantuan task done is the job of the Meraki Hardware team, and to do it we spend a lot of time on the ground with our development partners in Taiwan. While regular business travel isn’t for everyone, the prospect of time on the road was one of the most exciting parts of my new role as Hardware Program Manager at Meraki. Today—shortly after returning from my first trip to Taiwan—I’d like to share a little bit about the experience.

The Flight

When it’s time to travel, we usually catch a direct flight from San Francisco to Taipei. This flight is a solid 13 hours! Once you add in a few extra hours for travel to and from the airport, security, customs, etc., and you’re looking at roughly 18 hours on the road between our homes in the Bay Area and our hotel in Taipei. It’s a long day!

Map

SFO to TPE is 6500 miles (or about 13 hours) in the air.

Everyone has a different method of passing the flight time. We sleep, watch movies, play games, and read. It’s everything you do on a domestic flight—just a lot more of it. When several of us are on the same flight, we’ll banter over Google Hangouts using the onboard WiFi. And there’s talk of trying to get multiplayer video games working…

We usually leave SF in the morning or early afternoon and arrive in Taipei in the evening of the next day. That’s because—in addition to the flight time—Taiwan is 13 hours ahead of SF. Talk about jet lag!

The Work

When we’re on the ground in Taiwan, it’s time to get to work. That work may be any number of things, depending on the current stage of the product development process.

Early in the process, we’ll sit down with our manufacturers and communicate the vision for the new product. This helps our partners allocate their resources effectively, so they will be ready to manufacture when we want them to. We also clearly communicate our requirements for mechanical and electrical components, which helps us collaborate to define and set up our testing and measurement parameters early.

In the middle of the process, we will oversee small prototype manufacturing runs and check to make sure everything works as we expect. We’ll also help define the exact procedures for assembling and testing each unit to ensure maximum quality.

AssemblyLine

Ruby, Nick, and Nathan inspect an assembly line.

Further along in the process, we’ll check the progress of our large manufacturing runs, or troubleshoot any errors that have arisen.

One example of this occurred while inspecting plastic parts for one of our newest products. We realized that a thin strip of plastic was being bent somewhere in the manufacturing process, resulting in a poor appearance when the product was fully assembled. We inspected the parts coming out of the machine and the steps of the assembly process. Eventually, we realized that the assembly line operators were holding the parts too firmly when they were newly-made and still malleable. We changed the assembly process to allow the plastic components to cool fully before the rest of the product assembly process began, and the problem was solved.

When we’re not working directly with our manufacturing partners on our hardware products, we’re probably bouncing around the country building relationships with various other vendors and partners, like the people that manufacture our electrical, plastic, and metal components. Some of the technology we get to see is truly amazing! Metal stamping machinery so forceful that the building housing it needs a reinforced foundation, PCB assembly lines fully automated by high-speed robotics, hot plastic parts fresh out of the injection-molding machine; the tools that build modern electronics are truly impressive.


 

The Fun

It’s a lot of work to get to Taiwan, and there’s even more work to do once we get into the country. But it’s not all heads-down time. The Hardware team has a lot of fun in our spare moments abroad. We get to eat local Taiwanese delicacies, like beef noodle soup and the infamous stinky tofu. Additionally, we often spend some time visiting cultural landmarks—like an evening at one of Taiwan’s famous Night Markets.

NightMarket

The Night Market is a great place to buy souvenirs and sample Taiwanese street food.

Taiwan and its culture are vibrant and fascinating, and I feel privileged to get to experience a piece of it.

In Conclusion

There’s a common saying in the hardware world—“hardware is hard.” And it’s true—it takes a lot of time and energy to design, develop, and manufacture a great hardware product at scale. For the hardware team at Meraki, that means a lot of time on the ground in Asia. And while it can be tiring, it’s also fun and incredibly rewarding to see the world and play a big part in developing great new technologies.

If you love travel and creating great hardware, keep an eye on the Meraki jobs page for high-flying opportunities! 

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Go Beyond Guest WiFi

The hospitality sector is growing, and there is every indication that it will continue to do so throughout 2017 — driving hotels to find new, innovative ways to differentiate themselves and their services. To offer more unique, personalized guest experiences at scale, a robust technology platform is needed.

Enter Cisco Meraki. Our recently announced wall plate access point (AP), the MR30H, offers the latest wireless technology for in-room deployments. The MR30H’s built-in 4-port gigabit switch can be used to easily service nearby IP-enabled devices (like IPTVs). We’ve designed the MR30H to be sleek and discreet; for example, the LED has been engineered to shine through the front body plate, emitting a significantly softer glow that is less disturbing to guests’ sleep.

Like every piece of Meraki gear, the MR30H is viewable and manageable via our web-based dashboard — an intuitive, graphical interface that enables global control over devices and that displays digestible metrics about clients, applications, access points, and client behavior.

Meraki MR30H dashboard view

An example dashboard view of the MR30H.

 
In addition, our completely refreshed MS225 line of access switches are the perfect complement — providing reliable connectivity and Power-over-Ethernet (PoE+) for up to 48 rooms per switch. This, along with the MS switches’ built-in network topology feature, port isolation and security, power scheduling, and expansive troubleshooting capabilities make for a complete IT solution that is unrivalled in capabilities and usability.
 

Going beyond guest wireless

 
When you combine guest wireless with location analytics, Bluetooth beacons, and mobile applications, you get powerful options for creating memorable guest experiences. All Meraki MR access points provide out-of-the-box location analytics at no additional charge — and the MR30H sports an integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radio that provides both beaconing and scanning functionality, enabling seamless integration with location-aware mobile applications.

This means, for example, that you can upload floor plans of your hotel into the Meraki dashboard and easily visualize trends in guest foot traffic over time to make better staffing decisions in hotspot areas like lobbies, front desks, pools, and gyms. You can even use it to determine where you might want to place your next access point, given client density!

See trends in guest density over time with integrated heat maps and floor plan views.

 
You can also use our built-in location analytics to see how many guests use your spa facilities, or how many in-house diners spent longer than one hour in your restaurant, or whether certain guests come back to the same property frequently. And best of all, you can compare all of this data across networks, properties, or even down to the individual access point level (using AP tagging).

Location Analytics

Comparing foot traffic between our San Francisco and London sites over the past month.

 

When you combine these out-of-the-box features with the power of Bluetooth BLE, the possibilities for personalized guest experiences grow even more. If you have a mobile app to help promote guest loyalty that responds to BLE beacons, you can generate context- and location-aware events using guests’ mobile phones: for example, offering special promotions on your house wine if they are near the lobby bar, or a VIP pass to a fitness center yoga class if they have visited your gym facilities at least twice in the past week. We partner with a wide array of vendors to help make these use cases easy to realize and frictionless to deploy.

You can even drive adoption of your mobile app directly from your Meraki guest wireless deployment by taking advantage of our hosted splash page functionality, or even promote your organization’s Facebook page by allowing guests to sign-on with their Facebook credentials and check into your property.

These are only a few of the use cases that Meraki APs, combined with Meraki switches, make possible. To learn more, please check out our solutions for hospitality page and join us for one of our upcoming product launch webinars (where we will dive into these new products in greater detail): Dec. 13th at 8am PST, Dec. 13th at 11am PST, or Dec. 13th at 5PM PST.

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“H” is for Hospitality

‘Tis the season, so they say. We can think of no better way to end this amazing year and ring in 2017 than by introducing some exciting new Cisco Meraki products. Today we’re thrilled to announce a significant refresh of our access switching portfolio and two sleek, new access points.

We will be posting additional information here on our blog throughout this week detailing each of these new products — so stay tuned! — but the full lineup in this latest launch includes:

  • MR30H: a new wall plate access point with integrated switch ports designed specifically for hospitality and certain multi-dwelling use cases, like university dorms
  • MR33: an 802.11ac Wave 2 access point that is half the size of an MR32
  • MS225 & MS250: A new generation of Meraki stackable access switches with 10G SFP+ uplinks and field-replaceable power options

 

Wireless

MR30H

 
Why a wall plate access point? We’re glad you asked. The MR30H’s form factor —  which sports four integrated gigabit switch ports — has been a heavily-requested wish, particularly from the hospitality industry. Wall plates are perfect for use cases where aesthetics matter and extra ports are needed to service IP-enabled devices like VoIP phones or IPTVs in the immediate vicinity of the AP.

Meraki for hospitality

The new Cisco Meraki MR30H wall plate access point.

 

The MR30H is built on a 2×2:2 802.11ac Wave 2 architecture, so can take advantage of Multi-User MIMO to simultaneously service two client devices. This makes the AP more efficient than an Wave 1 AP with equivalent specs.

 

MR33

 
The MR33 is an 802.11ac Wave 2 update for those who want robust wireless but don’t need support for high density scenarios. Like the MR30H, the MR33 is a 2×2:2 802.11ac Wave 2 access point, and it is one of the smallest we manufacture (the MR30H is smaller).

Meraki MR33

The new Cisco Meraki MR33 wireless access point.

 

Switching

We are also announcing a major update to our access switching portfolio, with the addition of stacking and 10G SFP+ uplinks on all new models – at the same price point.

MS_stack

The new Meraki MS250 switches.

 

The MS225 and MS250 are both designed for branch & campus deployments while the MS250 offers field replaceable power supplies and Layer 3 features.

 

MS_shots

 

Stay tuned

As we mentioned earlier, we’ll be posting more details about these products throughout the week. We also encourage you to join us next week for one of our customer product launch webinars (here, here, or here)!  While you wait to attend these awesome webinars, please check out our hospitality page, or our  MR30H, MR33, or MS225 product pages.
 
 

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How one company slashed IT costs with SD-WAN

Liberty Behavioral Management

Liberty Behavioral Management operates both inpatient and outpatient facilities across New York state, providing rehabilitation and behavioral health services to adults and adolescents. In a special Meraki webinar on December 7th at 11AM PT, Chris Smith, CTO, will share his experience managing an entire network across 13 different sites with a lean IT team of two.

Over time, Liberty Behavioral Management’s network infrastructure became insufficient for their basic business needs. Smith would receive complaints that the Internet was too slow for web surfing or file sharing, or that there wasn’t enough bandwidth for hosted medical information systems. It was time to either increase their MPLS network speed or find an alternative solution. And when Smith was notified that increasing their MPLS usage would drive up costs, he knew he had to find a different option.

Smith looked for ease-of-use, data security features, and ways to improve site-to-site connectivity without increasing internet costs. Meraki fit the bill.

With Meraki MX Security Appliances, SD-WAN (that’s “software-defined WAN” for those who haven’t come across this acronym) enhanced existing internet connectivity at each of the branches by dynamically sending traffic between locations based on set policies, defined types of traffic, and optimal performance. By leveraging MPLS at the main hospitals and the MX SD-WAN capabilities for the branch sites, Liberty Behavioral management saved $1,127,170, or 76% of costs, over five years.

Savings with SD-WAN

Find out more about how Liberty Behavioral Management deployed and saved with Meraki cloud-based solutions in our upcoming webinar on December 7th at 11AM PT. Register today! Eligible attendees receive a free AP.

What: Liberty Behavioral Management: Savings, Security, and SD-WAN

When: Wednesday, December 7th, 11 a.m. Pacific Time

Register Here: [Link]