We’ve all experienced it. Choppy, distorted or delayed voice are an unfortunate by-product of sending the human voice across digital networks over which we have limited or no control. Thankfully, technology has helped squeeze the best possible experience out of VoIP with more efficient codecs and, traffic prioritization. Our goal as network engineers is to maximize Quality of Experience (QoE) and minimize Number of Tickets, so we need all the tools we can get to assist.
The Meraki switching and AP families provides the perfect backbone on which to run VoIP, including our very own MC74 cloud managed phone, supporting 802.1p, DSCP and WMM. For site-to-site connections, even across the Internet, we provide SD-WAN functionality to automatically ensure selection of the best forwarding path for VoIP traffic.
Today we want to share three new capabilities specific to the MC74 which will help admins identify and troubleshoot VoIP issues.
The first of these is a dream come true for troubleshooters. Every call made on an MC74 is recorded in the Call Log, and now simply clicking on any call in that log will show its stats. Here’s an example, which clearly illustrates the loss and jitter for the duration of this call:
Meraki customers have benefitted from the ability to run remote packet captures for years: one of the most powerful troubleshooting tools in our kitbag. Now these packet captures can be grabbed directly from a Meraki phone. Perfect for those customers who have not yet upgraded to a full Meraki network.
Finally, for in-flight call issues, the phone user can be notified if network issues are impacting voice quality: useful because a less technical user may not be familiar with the issues which can impact Quality of Experience, and can then draw issues to the attention of the IT team.
A notice pops up on the screen, and the connectivity indicator in the upper left of the phone’s display will blink yellow.
Little by little, the Meraki phone is developing like every great Meraki product does, in response to the valuable feedback we receive daily from our customers. Our engineers are hard at work on more new features for MC, and we’ll be back to share those just as soon as they’re ready. In the meantime, please continue to contribute your ideas on how we can evolve this into the most user-friendly phone with the lowest operational costs on the market.
Of the many powerful pages available throughout the Meraki Dashboard, the switch monitor view is unsurprisingly one of the most heavily used by our customers. It provides rich detail and visibility of the overall health of a Meraki switch, along with historical information and a collection of useful monitoring and troubleshooting tools.
Based on feedback from thousands of our users, the Meraki engineering and user experience teams took a fresh approach to designing this page for all our products, with a focus on usability and speed. Available starting today, Meraki switch networks will have the option of viewing this brand new interface, which will soon become the new default view.
Here is a preview of the new design
Finding the cause of network trouble is now easier than ever, with a quick loading, intuitive and mobile-friendly interface built on React, making it more versatile than ever. See this example of a customer using the new page to remotely troubleshoot why a switch is having trouble contacting the network gateway:
Next time you login to a Meraki switch network, browse to Monitor > Switches and you’ll be greeted with the new page, accompanied with an option to View [the] old version. As always, please send us your thoughts and feedback so we can continue to enhance the new look. You can do this by choosing to go back to the old view, at which point you’ll be prompted for your feedback. We look forward to hearing from you!
Hot on the heels of a tremendously exciting new product family announcement, Meraki now offers six technology products that each work together to deliver on our core mission – By simplifying powerful technology, we can free passionate people to focus on their own mission.
We are excited to announce a new whitepaper that discusses modern IT trends and explores how the Cisco Meraki portfolio of IT solutions work together to help deliver reliable, pervasive connectivity for the modern business.
We hope this new document is informative and insightful, and as always, please send us your feedback so we can continue to improve its value.
Welcome to the second edition of ‘In the Know’. In the Know posts showcase features or capabilities that already exist in the Cisco Meraki portfolio but may not be as well known. For reference, here is last month’s In the Know about Windows 10.
First things first, Apple’s iOS 10 is here and macOS Sierra is coming soon. There are many things Meraki has already been doing to aid administrators in both preparing for and deploying the latest and greatest.
Meraki added extremely early, general support for iOS 10 and macOS betas after the start of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last June. For those with access to the betas, Meraki was ready–far ahead of the status quo. Early this year, Meraki released a solution for administrators using Apple products and Meraki Systems Manager to issue OS updates over the air. Over-the-air updates provide the ability to push the latest version of iOS and macOS to an entire fleet of devices remotely and with only a few mouse clicks. Keeping devices up to date is essential in order to deploy the latest security patches and features. More information can be found on the documentation article here.
Also announced at WWDC were many improvements with iOS 10 and Cisco specific features, like fast lane profiles or fast-tracking the mobile enterprise, which promised to change the way people work. This is carried out through network optimization around performance, creating an even better experience for Cisco voice communication, and reinventing teamwork and meetings with Cisco collaboration tools on iPhone and iPad. See below for an example of setting up per-app QoS with iOS 10 and Cisco in the Systems Manager Dashboard, and click here for documentation.
Systems Manager legacy customers interested in these powerful features can find out how to take advantage of them here. For those new to Meraki or Systems Manager, start a free trial.
High-density is the new black. As we increasingly use mobile devices to access the internet and other data, the pressure put on existing wireless infrastructure mounts. More people trying to access wireless networks with more devices means more radio frequency (RF) congestion — especially in situations where large gatherings of people occur. We expect connectivity at events, venues, and stadiums — and, in fact, these sites are looking to deploy wireless networks to improve their visitors’ experience with services like e-ticketing, interactive kiosks, targeted advertising, etc.
Additionally, an increasing number of deployments you wouldn’t necessarily have labelled “high-density” (e.g. multi-floor college dormitories) now face similar challenges as networks designed to serve large crowds. High-density is becoming de rigueur.
Sporting the market’s most advanced 802.11ac Wave 2 chipset, the MR84 provides the highest client density support with a 4×4:4-stream MU-MIMO 160MHz architecture; a blazingly fast, multigigabit uplink for heavy data loads; and a slew of crowd-friendly features that reduce RF congestion and improve throughput and roaming.
We’re also excited to announce that the MR84 is certified to work with one of the best 4×4, dual-band, MIMO antennas on the market: the Cisco “Gillaroo” antenna, also known as Cisco Four-Port Dual-Band Polarization-Diverse Array Antenna (AIR-ANT2513P4M-N=). This antenna is designed for stadiums and arenas, and provides a narrow 30o beam of coverage.
The MR84 and Cisco’s AIR-ANT2513P4M-N= antenna pair perfectly for high-density deployments.
The MR84, along with the Cisco AIR-ANT2513P4M-N= antenna and a new, dual-band sector antenna — the MA-ANT-27 — are orderable and available to ship today in countries supporting the regulatory certifications of:
The United States
The European Union
Making high-density easy
Thanks to Meraki’s cloud management, it’s incredibly easy to remotely pre-configure, deploy, and manage wireless networks and MR access points (along with all other Meraki products) from any internet-accessible device. With respect to high-density deployments, Meraki APs come with many handy features to help reduce RF interference and improve roaming. The Meraki solution gives you the ability to easily:
Steer clients to faster, less congested 5GHz channels and improve roaming performance by setting minimum bit rates
Enable a seamless wireless experience across an entire venue with Layer 3 roaming
Quickly deploy baseline configurations and security across tens, hundreds, or even thousands of APs with network templates
Rapidly expand wireless connectivity to remote “dead zone” areas with zero-touch, automatic AP meshing
Reduce RF interference in congested areas with a dedicated scanning radio that proactively tunes to optimize performance
Improve overall wireless performance with selective SSID and band enablement
Allow groups to receive different security postures and network access across one SSID thanks to Cisco ISE integration (with CoA)
Control which applications consume bandwidth via powerful application traffic shaping
Leverage integrated location analytics on every AP for better service and branding
In the wild: the Barclaycard Center
Meraki MR84 access points are being deployed in one of Madrid’s premier indoor stadiums: the Barclaycard Center (Palacio de Deportes). Used for basketball games, concerts, and other large events, the Barclaycard Center can host up to 15,500 visitors for a single event.
About 150 Meraki APs have been deployed at Madrid’s Barclaycard Center stadium to date.
As part of an ongoing rollout, about 150 Meraki access points have been deployed across the stadium to date — along with Cisco AIR-ANT2513P4M-N= antennas — and are able to successfully serve 6,000 clients. Many of the features listed in the section above have been deployed to mitigate RF congestion and interference, and provide an optimal wireless experience for Barclaycard Center guests.
For more information
Without a doubt, the MR84 loves a crowd — and we are thrilled to introduce it to you. As with all Meraki gear, you can take this AP for a test drive in your own environment via a risk-free trial or give us a call with any questions you may have.
Meraki MV security cameras have arrived, and they remove much of the hassle IT administrators and security camera specialists have dealt with for decades. With high write endurance, solid state storage on each camera, the MV family has turned the network video recorder (NVR) and standalone video management software (VMS) into relics of the past. Management through the beloved browser-based Meraki dashboard allows users to view video from anywhere, saving time and money. MV cameras, available in both an indoor and outdoor model, have been designed from beginning to end with simplicity in mind.
MV21 Indoor Security Camera
MV71 Outdoor Security Camera
Why security cameras? Hot on the heels of the Meraki Communications MC74 launch in May, Meraki is continuing to expand its mission of simplifying not just networking, but IT as a whole. The team has become adept in identifying areas of IT that are particularly outdated or unnecessarily complicated—think PBX and WLAN controllers. With this in mind, adding cloud managed security cameras to the Meraki line up was a no-brainer.
Security cameras are necessary to keep every business, big or small, safe and operating smoothly. While consumers have begun to take note of some cloud-based security camera solutions, the reality in the enterprise world is that these plug-and-play solutions do not exist, and the consumer-focused solutions have significant bandwidth limitations of their own.
Today’s enterprise security solutions rely on on-premise hardware, the NVR,to store video footage. On top of the hardware and operating costs associated with these on-prem solutions, the NVR can cause major headaches when administrators need to retrieve video after an event has occurred. Because of the high costs associated with installing up-to-date surveillance solutions, many businesses continue, even in 2016, to operate using NVRs in conjunction with DVDs, thumb drives, and VHS in some cases. The brand new MV family removes all of these pain points and streamlines the entire security camera interaction, from installation to management to software updates, in typical Meraki fashion.
A real security camera spotted in the wild by a Merakian a few weeks ago.
MV utilizes 128GB of industrial grade, high write endurance, solid state storage on every camera to eliminate the NVR. At launch, each camera will be able to store up to 20 days of 24/7, 720p footage on the edge. With continuous software optimizations and updates (scheduled by administrators and pushed automatically from the cloud, as with the rest of the Meraki full stack), this 20 day figure will only increase over time.
The Meraki MV edge storage architecture. Video is stored on the edge of each camera and can be streamed locally or remotely. The Meraki dashboard identifies if the viewing computer is in the local network automatically.
Two models will be available to ship mid-October: the MV21 indoor model features a simplified industrial design, cutting down significantly on installation and maintenance time, while the MV71 outdoor model is IP66 weather rated and IK10 impact rated to withstand demanding environments. Both models feature infrared illumination for nighttime vision, so users won’t be left in the dark.
Best of all, MV is managed through the Meraki dashboard, right alongside our wireless, switching, network security, mobility management, and communications solutions. Users can create video walls in a snap to group video streams and view them from anywhere in the world with any Internet connection. Of course, this begs the very important question—how does this affect a user’s bandwidth consumption? The Meraki dashboard is intelligent enough to automatically detect whether the viewing computer is in the same network as the cameras and will stream video locally over the LAN if possible, saving bandwidth on local monitoring.
What about when the user is remote? The dashboard will proxy video through the cloud to the viewer. All MV communications, both management and video delivery are encrypted. It is not possible to configure the system to deliver video over an un-encrypted protocol. In order to minimize WAN bandwidth usage in this use case and to improve the overall user experience of MV, Meraki engineers have worked hard to build some powerful, and very cool features:
Laptop gone missing? With the built in motion search tool, the IT admin can retroactively select an area of interest in a video stream and see the motion events that happened in that area. Drag a box to select the desk, the chair, or the windowsill where the laptop might have been last, and the dashboard will return a list of video clips showing motion within that area. Motion search allows users to view only what’s important, eliminating the need to stream hours or even days of footage just to identify key events.
Export Video Clips
Once the culprit has been identified, instead of reaching for those recording devices of yesteryear—those DVDs, thumb drives, and VHS tapes—simply click “Export” and the dashboard will generate a shareable mp4 link that can be sent to law enforcement or downloaded to a computer.
Granular Access Controls
Because privacy is such an important consideration when deploying a video security system, Meraki engineers built in very granular access controls. Pick who can see video streams based on individual camera names or group tags. Choose who can view live and historical video. Set restrictions on who is allowed to export video clips. All of this can be done through the dashboard in just a couple of clicks.
To continue with Cisco Meraki’s mission of simplifying IT through intuitive cloud-managed products, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of an entirely new product line, MV Security Cameras, as well as the debut of our newest wireless access point designed for tough, high-density deployments, the MR84. These new products are the latest in a long line of Meraki devices which can all be easily monitored and controlled from a single web-based dashboard.
Meraki MV Security Cameras
This brand new Meraki product family delivers a simplified design for streamlined deployment and is the only video security solution from an industry cloud leader. In true Meraki fashion, we’ve eliminated the need to purchase additional on-premise hardware, external recording devices, or standalone software packages. We’re able to do this through cutting edge architecture that uses industrial grade, solid state storage on each camera to store weeks’ worth of video while simultaneously enabling easy configuration and management from the cloud.
There are two camera models: one designed for indoors (the MV21) and one for harsh, outdoor use (the MV71, which is IK10 rated).
The new Meraki MV21 security camera.
Meraki MR84 Access Point
Built from the ground up with high-density deployments in mind, the MR84 is our most performance-driven AP designed for both demanding indoor or harsh outdoor conditions. Sporting the market’s most advanced 802.11ac Wave 2 4×4:4 MU-MIMO architecture and a multigigabit uplink, the MR84 is designed to serve multiple concurrent clients during heavy usage.
The MR84 is the first Meraki AP to be certified for use with one of the best 4×4, dual-band, MIMO antennas on the market: the Cisco “Gillaroo” antenna, also known as Cisco Four-Port Dual-Band Polarization-Diverse Array Antenna (AIR-ANT2513P4M-N=). This antenna is designed for stadiums and arenas, and provides a narrow 30o beam of coverage.
We will be publishing additional blog posts diving into more detail on both the MV line and the MR84 throughout this week. Additionally, we will be hosting informative customer webinars on both products that will feature a live MV product demo beginning September 20th.
As always, we appreciate your feedback and would love to hear your thoughts. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line on social media or to give us a call or make a wish in the Meraki dashboard!
Twelve months ago Cisco and Apple announced an exciting new partnership to fast-track the mobile enterprise. In the intervening period much work has gone on behind the scenes, preparing for some true breakthroughs in user experience when operating Apple devices running iOS 10 on a Cisco wireless network. Naturally, Meraki technology is along for the ride, and the fruits of our labor are now ready to share.
Ever since we all started carrying mobile devices around, network admins have faced a number of challenges. Some of these relate to the physical environment and can be mitigated with a professional site survey to establish the correct number and placement of APs. Other challenges relate more to the mobile devices joining these Wi-Fi networks: our smartphones, tablets, and so on.
Two client challenges which stand out are roaming and app prioritization, and these just happen to be two of the areas which Cisco, including Meraki, is addressing for iPhone and iPad running iOS 10. Let’s break this down and look at the two in turn.
As a mobile device moves through the Wi-Fi environment, and the distance from its connected AP increases, the device must roam to maintain connection to the network. This roaming process requires the client to find another AP serving the same SSID and then go through the process of establishing a new association by performing a handshake with the new AP. With classic roaming, the onus is on the client to initiate the roam. The method for doing so is not part of the 802.11 standard and varies between device manufacturers, so inevitably problems can arise if a certain client’s roaming method is incompatible with the AP’s own method. Additionally, in a secure environment where clients are required to authenticate, the complete authentication process must be performed at each roam.
The challenge is that both of these processes – the re-association and re-authentication – introduce delay, potentially impacting the user experience. To address these, three extensions were added to the 802.11 standard: 802.11k, v and r, each of which are implemented on Meraki APs.
Rather than having to blindly establish available APs through active scanning at the time of roaming, client devices request a neighbor list from the AP to which they’re associated. This list, which may vary for each client, based on its location, includes APs offering the same SSID, and the channel they’re serving that SSID on. At the time of roaming, the client can reach out directly to APs on the list, reducing re-association time.
Our first enhancement for Meraki APs is the addition of support for 802.11v, which builds on ‘k’ by advising the client of the best AP to roam to, based on load. Apple devices running iOS 10 are able to recognize ‘v’ and will therefore benefit from this additional information, ensuring a better spread of load across APs and an improved overall experience for clients.
With 802.11r, the re-authentication of clients is greatly accelerated by sharing encryption keys between APs, streamlining handoff between them. Both 802.11k and ‘r’ have been available on Meraki APs for some time. There is just one caveat relating to ‘r’ which has prevented its widespread adoption: device compatibility. Not all clients support the standard, so we’ve always provided a toggle switch to turn it off when compatibility issues arise. This toggle switch is a blunt tool, an ‘all or nothing’. So one of the most significant enhancements we’re announcing for Meraki customers is a new approach known as ‘adaptive 802.11r’, which enables the latest iOS devices running iOS 10 to automatically use ‘802.11r’ when connected to our APs, regardless of the toggle switch setting. This will enable a superior performance for Apple devices, even in a mixed device environment.
With 802.11r, only one authorization request is made to the server, then shared between APs
Some of the apps we run on our devices are more demanding and require priority for their traffic as it traverses the network. Mostly we’re thinking here of more latency-sensitive apps, like voice and video. Quality of Service (QoS) provides the tools we need to prioritize once the data hits the network infrastructure, but how do we manage the flow of traffic between the device and the network?
Introducing Fast Lane integration with Systems Manager profiles
Wireless MultiMedia (WMM) provides a mechanism for prioritizing application traffic on the wireless network. Meraki APs already have the ability to mark wireless traffic for QoS treatment based on Layer 7 traffic analysis. In addition, Apple enables developers to request prioritization at the app level, which maps to WMM at the device level so that traffic is given priority on the upstream to the AP. All other app traffic is sent as Best Effort, as with other forms of QoS.
Fast lane with Systems Manager for controlled app prioritization
Meraki APs honor all incoming WMM markings from iOS (what is commonly referred to as fast lane). However it may be desirable for the IT administrator to limit which apps are given permission to set these markings according to device policy or posture, to prevent abuse, or to engineer the network for better performance. We call this per-app QoS, and it’s a new feature in the Wi-Fi Profiles section of Meraki Systems Manager.
The decision to honor markings for specific apps could be based on policy rules such as a schedule, a geofence, the user’s identity or Active Directory group. Device posture can also be interrogated, checking for the presence of a passcode or whether the device has been compromised through jailbreaking, before adhering to app prioritization markings.
Taken together, these innovations by Cisco and Apple, including new capabilities on Meraki APs and Systems Manager, offer a real difference for devices running iOS 10. We’re proud of the work of our engineers who helped make this a reality for Cisco customers around the world and can’t wait to see its impact on the iOS experience. For another perspective, including how Cisco Spark is delivering an integrated calling experience on iOS 10, check out the partnership page on Cisco.com here, or this page on Apple’s website. Existing Meraki AP and Systems Manager customers will be able to test these new features later this month. Alternatively, for an introduction to Meraki, simply join us on one of our regular webinars.
One of the fundamental truths of IT is that the more visibility you have into the network, the more effectively you can manage it. Because of this, at Cisco Meraki we’ve always placed a lot of importance on providing our customers with as much information as possible, whether it comes in the form of location analytics, usage tracking, threat data, or RF scanning. Now we’re excited to let you in on an upcoming functionality that will provide even more information about end user behavior: detailed URL logging for MX Security Appliances.
Want to know which users have visited a particular web site? Easy. Want to know all the web sites a specific user has browsed? No problem. While this could previously be accomplished by exporting URL logs to a Syslog server, this new functionality will bring that information directly into Dashboard without the need to stand up additional infrastructure.
Just like with our other reporting features, we’ve taken care to ensure that it’s easy to navigate through the data and find exactly what you need. Starting from the “top 10” style summary view, you can drill down to a specific client, web site, or web server to get more detailed information.
Most importantly, URL Logging is still in development and we want your feedback! If you have an MX and are interest in joining the beta, please fill out this form.
Space is limited in this current phase of the beta. If you are selected we will notify you – thank you for participating!
We’ve all experienced it: you open up your laptop or phone and you’re greeted with a notification informing you that a new update is available, or better yet, that a new update has just been installed. While these can sometimes feel like a distraction, this is an amazing capability that most of us now take for granted. Gone are the days of downloading software packages, figuring out when to install them, and crossing your fingers while they install.
When it comes to managing firmware on enterprise networks however, IT teams still spend lots of time keeping the network up to date—TFTP servers, firmware downloads, MD5 hash checks, install scripts, maintenance windows…sound familiar? Wouldn’t it be nice if your network maintained itself reliably and securely? Enter Meraki: automatic firmware updates are just one of the many powerful and unique features you get with our rapidly growing ecosystem of products. Those of you familiar with our products know this well, and hopefully have to think about firmware less and less. Our cloud-based architecture means we can handle the complete process; all you need to do is provide a desired upgrade window, and we’ll handle the rest, from initiating the upgrades to verifying they completed successfully. The next morning you wake up to new features and, in some cases, a network that is even more secure. At the end of the day, our mission at Meraki is to reduce the amount of time our customers spend managing and troubleshooting IT so they can focus on what’s most important.
To support this powerful new approach, both our hardware and software have been uniquely designed to ensure a smooth upgrade each and every time. This starts with a dual-partition flash storage architecture, protecting each Meraki device from power outages and other failure scenarios while the upgrade takes place. Any time a new upgrade is made available, customers are notified two weeks prior to the scheduled upgrade window and have a choice to upgrade now, reschedule, or to proceed as scheduled:
These options add flexibility for both a hands-off or more custom-tailored approach regardless of the size and number of networks a team manages.
Before new firmware ever makes it to our customers, our engineering team expends a painstaking amount of effort scrutinizing each and every feature, both new and old, to ensure no issues or bugs get introduced. This happens in Meraki Labs, a state-of-the-art 5,500 square foot testing facility based in our San Francisco headquarters. Meraki Labs serves as our global quality assurance center for all new software releases. Take our MS switching products for example; over the past five years, Meraki’s MS family of enterprise switches has grown from just 4 to over 24 different models, supporting a wide range of enterprise features and accessories. Our quality assurance (QA) team works tirelessly to keep up with this tremendous growth, adding new tests daily and working with the broader engineering team as well as our beta customers to address any issues that are uncovered.
Entrance to Meraki Labs, San Francisco, California
Once new firmware has passed our rigorous QA and testing process, it is made available to our beta release channel. Many customers choose to subscribe their test and lab environments to beta releases so they can have early access to testing the new firmware before it is made available to the rest of their organization. Thousands of our customers already help contribute to our new feature releases which provides for an amazing and unique new approach to building and improving our products, and we look at all feedback we receive. If you’re an existing customer, we’d love for you to be part of our beta community. Here is how to subscribe:
Choose the desired network from the drop down at the top of dashboard
Go to Network-wide > Configure > General:
Scroll down to Firmware upgrades and choose Yes for Try beta firmware
That’s it! We will always notify you prior to your network receiving a new upgrade, and we invite you to provide any and all feedback on your beta experience via the Make a Wish box, your Meraki contact, or by email at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!
If you don’t yet have Meraki products and you like the idea of Merakifying your next firmware upgrade, check out one of our webinars to learn more!