Imagine walking into a room full of your closest colleagues, only to see them huddled around a desk and crouched over a laptop with multiple routers on the side. Now imagine this room is not your office, but actually a hotel room in a completely different city.
And those routers? Those are but a small fraction of the devices still stacked up against the wall waiting to be configured. Your role? Getting ready to join your colleagues, not for a LAN party, but a Router Party.
IT team member configuring devices in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.
For Randy Haan, Director of Infrastructure – Western Region at The Salvation Army, Router Parties occurred quite often, happening as early as 2007. In a webinar on March 22nd, at 11 AM PT, Haan was joined by a Cisco Meraki Product Specialist to share more about the need for Router Parties and what they were like, as well as how Meraki helped them transition from in-person configurations to a simple, easy-to-use dashboard.
The Salvation Army, a non-profit organization with the mission to “Do The Most Good,” is dedicated to feeding, clothing, comforting, and caring for those in need throughout the world. Haan, who oversees the Western Region in the U.S., manages a widely dispersed network that extends from Montana to as far as Guam. This poses a geographical challenge for Haan, as his lean team manages over 600 locations of thrift stores, youth centers, and elderly care facilities dispersed throughout the region.
Stacked devices to be configured in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.
Haan hosted these parties to maintain consistency and accuracy for each of the device configurations. The team would be sent to a single location in cities like Portland, Phoenix, and San Francisco, where they would post up, un-box, and start configuring.
List of devices to configure during a Router Party in 2013.
There was always a large number of devices being configured for hundreds of sites, which meant the team was usually up “configuring boxes until 2 AM,” as Haan described it. But that’s what needed to be done. At the end of each Router Party, Haan and his team would re-box and ship them to each location.
Then one day, someone brought in a Cisco Meraki wireless AP. “It was cute and nice, but we were a full shop with the previous vendor at the time, and we weren’t willing to change that,” explained Haan. However, after they experienced a “catastrophic failure” of their network infrastructure, Haan decided to give Meraki a try.
Since then, everything has changed. By introducing Meraki, Haan not only changed the network infrastructure of the Western Region, but he also changed the philosophy and mindset with his team about what IT management meant, and how simplicity does not have to mean less powerful technology.
Today, The Salvation Army is a full Meraki shop with MX security appliances, MR wireless APs, and MS switches. They’re also trialing Systems Manager for enterprise mobility management, as well as MV security cameras. Watch our webinar from March 22nd at 11 AM PT, to hear from Haan about the unique challenges The Salvation Army faced, and how they use Meraki to build a reliable infrastructure and positively impact the business. Eligible attendees receive a free AP!
Following last week’s Systems Manager and MR news, MC has some exciting new developments as well. Starting today, Meraki Communications is available in Canada!
Canadian customers can begin a free trial of the MC74 by calling a Meraki rep. Every customer will get $20 of free SIP credit, which can be used to test out the system in their own environment.
Use MC and Dashboard to deploy phones in new locations—even a home office. Anywhere with an Internet connection can now have an enterprise-grade phone system, without the headache of setting up and managing a complicated PBX.
Since the launch of Meraki Communications last May, customers all over the world have been asking for the MC74. Our team has been hard at work scaling out the integrated experience of Easy Onboarding to different geographies, and we are excited to be able to deliver that same intuitive experience to Canada. It is important to us that customers are able to purchase phone numbers though the Meraki Dashboard, to ensure that the process of deploying a phone system only takes minutes, not months.
Today we’re excited to announce a brand new wireless access point for general purpose industrial and outdoor deployments: the MR74. This new AP brings the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 technology to our mid-range MR7x portfolio.
The new MR74 sports the same physical form factor as the MR72.
The MR74 is a quad-radio, cloud-managed, 802.11ac Wave 2 access point. It provides an overall efficiency boost over the MR72 via 2×2 Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO), which allows the AP to serve multiple concurrent wireless clients. Being able to send data simultaneously to multiple mobile devices is a new, 802.11ac Wave 2 capability; before Wave 2, APs could only address one client at a time — albeit rapidly enough so as to simulate concurrent client connections.
The MR74 is designed and tested for salt spray, vibration, extreme thermal conditions (with an operating temperature from -40o to 131o Fahrenheit, or -40c to 55c), shock, and dust — and it is IP67-rated. This makes it an ideal access point for manufacturing, construction, general-purpose outdoor, and industrial indoor use where environmental conditions may be harsh.
Like the MR72, the MR74 has four external N-type female connectors and is compatible with Meraki dual-band omni, dual-band sector, and dual-band patch antennas (see the MR74 data sheet for more details and specifications). This is ideal for warehouse and industrial installs where high amounts of interference may require more specialized antennas.
The MR74 comes with all the rich, cloud-based features our customers have come to expect of our wireless platform: out-of-the-box location analytics, an integrated Bluetooth BLE radio for scanning and advertising, a dedicated radio for RF optimization and wireless intrusion detection and prevention (WIDS/WIPS), self-configuring mesh, and centralized visibility and control over networked devices, users, and applications.
In short, the MR74 is an ideal, flexible AP for industrial indoor or general-purpose outdoor use, and we encourage you to take it for a test drive in your own environment through our risk free evaluation program.
Note: End of Sale for the MR72 will be effective April 30th, 2017.
Today is an exciting day for our enterprise mobility management (EMM) customers. We’ve revamped Cisco Meraki Systems Manager, our EMM platform. This represents the single, most significant addition we’ve made to Systems Manager since introducing the solution in 2010. And, for those not familiar with the Cisco Meraki licensing model, when we add new functionality to a product all existing customers automatically get access to the new functionality–for no extra charge.
Per-App and Always-on VPN
Android for Work – fully certified
Systems Manager API
Brand new UX tools to simplify onboarding
Managed app configuration
Cellular data tracking
User authentication w/ Google, Azure, or any OAuth
New features. New capabilities. And (maybe most importantly) a fresh, new approach to enterprise mobility management.
Simplifying Management and Access
At Cisco Meraki, we are driven by our mission of simplifying powerful technology. That’s why we’ve added so much to our EMM platform. We continue to learn about the different ways customers around the world want to manage their mobile devices, and the features they need to run their businesses effectively. We’ve rethought the way mobile devices and PCs check-in, when and why they are updated, and how they are configured in the first place.
Cisco Meraki Systems Manager provides a simple and effective way to manage the apps and access for endpoints in any organization. Specify the right apps and access for mobile devices, who should be receiving them, and when they should have them. Cisco Meraki takes care of the rest.
New features, new capabilities
With Systems Manager 2017, customers can enjoy a host of new features, including:
– VPN: Per-App and Always-on VPN bring more flexibility, security, and control. Per-App VPN means only the apps that matter are secured and connected to home base. Always-on VPN automatically and on demand creates a secure, private tunnel to a security appliance from wherever a device may be. This is supported in the certificate-based VPN solutions, including Cisco AnyConnect and IKEv2.
– Android for Work: Android for Work provides a way to enable apps, add containerization, and bring security without needing to manage complicated SDKs or application source code. Meraki enables Android for Work to provide major business benefits and secure work-ready apps with minimal setup required. With this launch, we are certified on all of the currently available Android for Work protocols. Popular use cases include:
Work Profile: maintain BYOD use cases with native containerization and mobile application management
Kiosk Mode: point of sale and kiosk mode at the click of a button
Organization-owned: lock down the entire device for maximum security and control
More settings, restrictions, and support than ever before with Android
– New API: The Systems Manager API extends the power and visibility of the Meraki Dashboard to the platforms and infrastructure you already support. Trigger a device wipe when removing an employee from your internal database. Automatically assign apps to users where you already manage them. For those with a Cisco Meraki Dashboard account, see the API documentationhere.
– UX tools to simplify onboarding: This one hits particularly close to home for us. Our mission is to simplify powerful technology. There are a lot of benefits that come with mobile devices and PCs, but there can also be complexity. Whether it’s setting up an Apple push certificate, an Android EMM domain, or what is needed for a Windows laptop, the new onboarding flow makes it just a couple clicks.
TELUS World of Science – Edmonton is a non-profit organization in Edmonton, Canada, focused on bringing science education to their community. The center houses one of the largest IMAX theaters in all of Canada, as well as a planetarium theater (pictured above) for lectures, events, and science presentations.
The growing organization is dedicated to its mission of fostering wonder and excitement for children and adults around science and technology in ways that advance and strengthen the community. Yet, as a non-profit, funding and costs are spread quite thin across the entire organization. When it comes to IT infrastructure, Robert Litchfield, Director of IT, leads a lean team of 2, including himself.
On March 1, 2017 at 11AM PT, Litchfield joined us in a live webinar to share some of the greatest challenges managing and monitoring the TELUS network, and how Cisco Meraki has helped advance their organizational mission, cut costs, and create opportunities for additional revenue.
How his lean team manages everything from Wi-Fi, desktop support, server maintenance, data security, and application and network management
How the center has supported a network of hundreds of guests and devices each day, before and after Meraki
What the rip and replacement looked like, as well as the deployment of Meraki switches
Some of the unique use cases, challenges, and needs a science center faces, and how a solid network infrastructure plays a part in its success
Register today for the chance to hear directly from Litchfield on how TELUS World of Science overcame their networking challenges with Meraki to continue educating and inspiring their community.
It’s that time of year again! Cisco Meraki is headed to Cisco Live! in Berlin, Germany in just a few days. Members from our executive, product, marketing, support, and sales teams will be heading to the show to meet with our customers and partners. Stop by the Cisco Meraki booth in Hall 1.2 in the World of Solutions and meet the team!
Undoubtedly, our favorite aspect of the Meraki Magic is the secure, cloud managed dashboard. This year at Cisco Live! we’ll be unveiling our dashboard localization project. Attendees will be able to get a dashboard demo in German, French, or English from native speakers. Want to see the dashboard in Spanish or Japanese too? You can do that with a simple click. Our experts will be on standby and ready to show you just how easy it is for your international teams to work more efficiently (and in their own language).
If you’ve never seen the dashboard or our products up close, Cisco Live! is the perfect time to get one-on-one interaction with our experts and ask all your questions. If you’re a diehard #Merakifan, we’d love to show you the shiny new features we’ve been working on. We’ll be displaying our new wireless and switching models as well as our trusted security appliances, SD-WAN, and our EMM solution. Additionally, we’ll be showcasing Meraki Communications and live MV security cameras for the first time ever at Cisco Live! EMEA.
Last but not least, Meraki will be hosting a number of presentations throughout the week. Sign up for one of the following sessions today!
E911, or Enhanced 911, is a system in North America that provides the caller’s phone number and physical address to the emergency responder when an emergency call is made. In the rest of the world, a similar feature is often called caller location.
For customers that like to be prepared in case of emergencies, Dashboard will now display the exact street address associated with each MC74. If there is a mismatch between what is configured in Dashboard and what the provider is reporting, the following error will appear. This way, IT administrators can ensure that locations are always up-to-date if 911 is called.
Default addresses can also be configured in Dashboard to update the network in bulk – this is handy when moving buildings, or adding to your deployment. This setting can be found under Network wide -> Configure -> General and will update all the phones in your network that do not have a customized address.
If you noticed a new tab that says “Analytics” pop up in your Cisco Meraki MV dashboard last week, you weren’t dreaming. MV has officially taken its first step into the video analytics world.
Specifically, the MV team is delighted to announce the launch of heat maps, which will give customers valuable insights into customer behavior, school safety, and more. Staying true to one of the team’s core principles which drive product decision making—business value through intelligence—developing heat maps is just the first step in delivering advanced analytics tools to our customers.
Heat maps show an overview of the last week’s worth of motion data, on a per-day basis, giving insight into how a space is being used by students—are they using the playground equipment on the weekends?—or how customers are moving through a retail store location.
Most importantly, as with all Meraki products, cloud management means that every existing MV user will now automatically have this heat map tool available to them (as a public beta): no software installation, payments, or configuration required. Simply log in to your dashboard account to try it out for yourself.
So your first five MV cameras have just arrived. Now what? Proper, strategic camera installation can make all the difference when it comes time to review footage. Taking the time to map out your deployment before the big day (installation day!) can mean the difference between finding your boss’s stolen iPad and coming up empty handed. Here are some tips and ideas to help get you started:
1. Think context and identity. When installing MV cameras (or any security cameras, for that matter), two cameras per key area should typically be regarded as a minimum requirement. One camera should be zoomed out, with a wide field of view for context. The other should be zoomed in on an area where you can easily catch a face walking by (think door entrances) in order to catch detail and help you identify potential perpetrators.
Having one or more cameras situated so you can easily perform a motion search can help too. This may double as your wide-angle camera, or a third could be useful. As with network deployments, camera deployments will vary widely based on your particular use case. Consultation with the experts—your partner or installer—is recommended.
A zoomed in camera for identification.
A wide angle camera for context.
2. Aim!MV is a fixed, varifocal lens camera, so lens adjustment should be done during physical install. Use the Meraki Mobile App to simplify installation that much more and reduce the likelihood of dropping your laptop off the top of a 10 foot ladder.
Setup with the Meraki mobile app is a breeze.
3. Focus. While lens positioning adjustments must be made during physical install, zoom, aperture, and focus settings are adjusted remotely, through the dashboard or the Meraki app. MV’s autofocus tool allows you to either focus on the whole frame, or select a specific area to focus on. Check out this mini-demo to see how easy it is to adjust these settings.
When Stephen Stanton, VP of IT at A Wireless, was told about upcoming plans to acquire 370 stores across the United States, he didn’t think it would be possible. Stanton knew the company would not be able to scale at that rate with their legacy networking solution. But that was four years ago. Today, A Wireless, a full-service Authorized Verizon Retailer, has about 1,170 stores across 46 states—an almost tenfold increase in store locations.
On Thursday, February 9th at 10 AM PT, Stanton will join us in a live conversation to share how A Wireless evaluated and decided on Cisco Meraki as their solution of choice for national expansion.
As A Wireless acquired new stores, they also acquired a mix of IT networking solutions and vendor products. They found themselves with a network built on varying technologies, configurations, and management systems. Implementing a standardized network and centralized management was essential for their continued success.
Over a 3-year period, A Wireless have saved in excess of 80% in the total cost of ownership of the network, compared to a more traditional networking solution.
A Wireless TCO Cost Savings
Over 670 stores already fitted with a full suite of Meraki solutions, including MX Security Appliances, MR Access Points, MS Switches, and even a few MC Phones. Now, Stanton and his team are ready to deploy the next 500 locations with the same products and by the final deployment, all 1,170 stores will be full Meraki shops without any other network vendor solutions.
View a recording of this webinar, A Wireless, A Verizon Premium Retailer: Scaling Nationally with Meraki, here: [Link]