AutoVPN is a unique feature of Cisco Meraki MX Security Appliances that allows secure connections to be established between remote branches within seconds, and it’s one of the most common reasons customers have for choosing to deploy MXs. Because visibility is an important part of the Meraki management experience, we also provide a comprehensive VPN status page to monitor the health and connectivity of AutoVPN connections, exported subnets, and overall cloud connectivity.
Now we’ve taken it a step further by completely redesigning how we present this information to you — adding some new enhancements that allow you to quickly retrieve important information about your VPN deployment.
Seamless access to usage and performance metrics
First, the entire status page has been redesigned with a focus on easy visibility into key metrics like tunnel latency, VPN usage, number of subnets exported, site connectivity, and more:
In the main status view, a user is presented with a full list of VPN networks along with statistics on usage and tunnel health.
In the ring view, each band of green on the outer ring represents an MX Security Appliance deployed at a given site. The band length is based on the amount of VPN traffic to or from that site. Wide green segments indicate MX networks that send and receive larger amounts of VPN traffic than thinner segments. Often “wider” sites have more VPN peer connections than “thinner” sites, but not always.
Below, we can quickly see that the MX highlighted has a high amount of VPN peer density (it’s connected to multiple MXs at other sites), and is one of the major hubs for VPN traffic.
Hovering over another peer MX within the same VPN network, however, shows a different story.
With this particular peer, we see there are two primary VPN connections: one to the heavily-trafficked site we just looked at, and another to a second MX with which it has far less VPN traffic.
New latency measurements for troubleshooting and failover
Another useful addition is the reporting of latency metrics for enhanced visibility into delays in packet delivery over the VPN. Many factors can contribute to latency: physical distance, malicious activity, network misconfiguration, or just plain old congestion during peak times of day. Unlike the point-in-time latency data on the existing VPN status page, this new latency information lets you identify patterns over time, which you can then use to pinpoint troublesome peers, applications, or users.
Convenient per-site review
Finally, you can also view statistics for a specific site and its peers. These statistics include latency and usage for all directly connected VPN links, the number of exported subnets, and any non-Meraki peer connections. Best of all, this is all available from a single view.
Overall, these enhancements provide more intuitive visibility into the health and connectivity of VPN networks, which helps to streamline VPN configuration, management, and troubleshooting.
You can try the new view for yourself by clicking the link in the “check out the new version of this page” banner on the VPN status page in your dashboard. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new page, so please let us know what you think by making a wish in Dashboard, using the feedback tool that appears when you switch back to the old version of the page, or reaching out to us on Twitter or Reddit!
Over the next few months, schools and libraries will be vying for a slice of government-issued E-Rate funding. E-Rate is a program which allocates funds for schools and libraries to obtain and install Internet/telecommunications and internal Internet access.
Designing a Network for the Future of Learning
The Cisco Meraki cloud managed solution is uniquely suited to meet the growing needs and demands of a continually evolving digital classroom. Meraki provides complete visibility into network usage, support for challenging, high-density environments, CIPA compliant network security, and much more. Making changes to configuration settings on local or highly remote network devices takes just a few mouse clicks through the Meraki dashboard. With Meraki, you can adapt your network on the fly for every need and, because of the unique cloud-management style, any new update or feature release is automatically pushed to customer networks, thus future-proofing the network deployment and providing a high performance network for evolving needs.
All Cisco Meraki hardware and most licenses are eligible for E-Rate funding as of the Funding Year 2015 Eligible Services List.
On Wednesday, October 14th at 12 PM PT, we’ll be presenting a live webinar you won’t want to miss! Top E-Rate consultant from Funds for Learning, Brian Stephens, will walk through updates to the 2016 E-Rate funding year and share how they affect you. You’ll also hear from a Meraki Product Specialist about why the Cisco Meraki cloud networking full stack is built for the demands of an education environment and is trusted across thousands of K-12 campuses.
In addition to our webinar and online resources, Meraki will be heading out to a trade show near you to talk all things E-Rate and how this applies to your classroom environment. You can find us at one of the following shows in the next coming months:
At Meraki we pride ourselves on having the cleanest, most intuitive management interface in the data networking industry. From the very early days of the company, almost 10 years ago now, the emphasis has been on a management experience like no other, which focuses engineers on what they’re trying to achieve, rather than how they get there.
We know the dashboard is the instrument panel that drivers of Meraki equipment rely on every day, and it’s important to us that the interface continues to meet or exceed the needs of those drivers. There’s always room for improvement, and we’ve recently adopted a few of the suggestions we’ve received and re-modelled the relevant pages. Let’s take a quick look.
Firstly, the MX security appliances. Auto VPN remains one of our most popular flagship features. Our customers love the ability to configure and bring-up site-to-site IPSEC VPNs in less than 30 seconds. There’s simply nothing else quite like it, all made possible by the centralization of management in the cloud.
One area we were asked to take a look at was the VPN Status page. Once VPNs are configured, especially when many are in use, it’s extremely helpful to be able to visualize those connections and learn more about them. Our MX product marketing manager, Joe, is writing a more comprehensive blog post on this particular change, so for now here’s a quick sneak peak of one of the new graphics we’ve included on the new page. For more details, please swing by the blog again later in the week, or better yet, subscribe to receive new posts by email.
Next we turn to WiFi. One of the challenges of keeping a user interface clean is how to provide all desired functionality and information without cluttering the screen. Many have tried and many have failed. At Meraki we’re fortunate to have a world class design team who obsess over the details and keep our engineers on the straight and narrow when it comes to the UI. The updates to our AP list and details pages are a great example of this attention to detail at work.
The ‘old’ version of the AP detail page was trying to display all configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting on one page. This design served us well for many years, but with more tools being added the page became increasingly cluttered, requiring the network admin to scroll up and down the page to access everything.
The new version addresses this challenge by adopting a tabbed design. It’s now easy to hop between tabs to access different views and settings. We’ve also taken the opportunity of a redesign to add a contextual event log, showing events related only to the AP currently being viewed.
The good news is that any Meraki customer can try this new version out today. Just look for the banner at the top of the dashboard page, inviting you to try it for yourself. Further underlining our commitment to customer feedback, when electing to revert to the ‘old’ version we’ll present a popup asking for comments about the new design. We’ll be listening carefully before this becomes the default view for all customers.
We’ve got one more example to share today. Our hugely popular MDM product, Systems Manager has also been maturing and expanding its feature set significantly, presenting us with similar UI challenges. In this case we’ve reworked the managed device settings page to provide an easy-to-navigate menu of options. Here’s a look at the new, cleaner page, replete with beautiful new icons:
Once again, this new version is optional while we’re gathering feedback so we can ensure it’s ready before it becomes the default.
At Meraki we understand the importance of good design. It’s no wonder we receive such consistently great feedback and accolades from the industry, for both our beautiful hardware, and the software our customers interact with every day. Good design, especially in the technology world where features are forever evolving and being invented, is a journey rather than a destination. Thanks to the continued feedback from all our customers joining us on that journey, we hope to remain the industry’s favourite network management interface.
As a reader of this blog, perhaps you’ve had some experience with Meraki hardware (no? check out our evaluation program). We’re always searching for customers with unique, engaging, and robust deployments, within any industry of any size.
If you have an interesting Meraki deployment story or use case, let us know! From now until December 1, 2015, we’ll be running a Customer Story Contest through our blog. We will select winners based on a combination of originality, robustness, and Meraki spirit. Winners will have the option to be featured in a Meraki case study, blog post, or live webinar, and also receive an exciting box of exclusive Meraki gear.
We can’t wait to hear your story! Email [email protected] with a brief description of your Meraki use case; let us know why you chose Meraki, which products you are using and how, and any interesting business cases that have proved helpful in your environment.
Need inspiration? Check out some past featured customers here, such as The Field Museum, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Albany State University, and many more.
The scalability and flexibility of Meraki cloud-managed products allow our customers to get creative with their network design and use cases – what will you do with your Meraki gear?
You never know where Meraki will pop up. (The Field Museum)
Would you believe the WiFi here is powered by Meraki? Or that there’s WiFi here at all? (Saxon Energy Services)
This week marks the start of Wireless Field Day 8 (#WFD8), part of the Tech Field Day series of events. For those less familiar with Tech Field Day, it brings together IT vendors and industry bloggers, speakers, podcasters and writers for engaging technology discussions.
A fantastic feature of this coming together of industry experts is the comprehensive live streaming and video replays of the sessions that allow anyone to participate. Cisco will be participating in #WFD8 with presentations starting on October 1, 2015 at 9:30 am PT, with the live stream available from the Wireless Field Day 8 website.
As part of the Cisco sessions at #WFD8 there will be a segment on Meraki Systems Manager and the Sentry features that offer simple automatic security that is context aware. Meraki has featured at past Wireless Field Days and you can catch up by searching Meraki and Wireless Field Day on YouTube. In the video below from WFD7, Raj Krishna, Wireless Product Manager, discusses and demonstrates the Cisco Meraki traffic analytics capabilities.
With Systems Manager Sentry, a number of complex security features can be very easily deployed because of the native integration offered by the Meraki cloud. Meraki network components and Systems Manager Enterprise Mobility Management are connected to the cloud and share data. This means the network can make highly informed decisions on how it should treat end devices.
One of the Sentry features that highlights the benefit of this integration is Sentry policies. Sentry policies allow any network group policy available on Meraki networking equipment to be dynamically applied based on device posture. This posture is determined by Systems Manager and is highly granular. For example, we can detect whether the antivirus software has been uninstalled and who the device belongs to. The network can then implement appropriate firewall or security rules.
To learn more, please attend one of our specialist webinars that cover Sentry in more detail, or better yet, watch the Cisco #WFD8 session live from 9:30AM PT onwards on October the 1st.
Late last year we launched the world’s first enterprise AP with integrated Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology. Beacons can be put to use in a couple of significant ways. Since many beacons are small, light and portable they can be attached just about anywhere and are particularly useful for items which need to be tracked. We tried this out by attaching a beacon to one of our skateboards and even to the collar of one of our office dogs.
Thanks to the low maintenance requirements and long battery life of some beacons, this application of the technology is perfect for keeping track of valuable equipment in a large organization. A hospital could use beacons to keep track of beds or expensive portable x-ray equipment as it moves around the building, or a school could attach one to an iPad cart.
While this form of tracking exists with other technologies, like RFID and NFC tags, Bluetooth beacons have the advantages of more predictable range and being able to communicate bi-directionally to drive actions on a compatible mobile device app.
Focusing on the latter, let’s look at an example of how beacons can be put to use to improve customer brand engagement by delivering a seamless experience. We’ll use a coffee shop as an example.
Setting the scene
John is a big fan of Michelle’s Coffee Shop. In order to reward his loyalty, rather than issuing a physical card to get lost in his wallet, Michelle commissioned an app which is beacon aware which John was happy to install on his phone.
John knows he’ll be in a hurry in the morning and won’t have time to line up for coffee, so he places an order for his cappuccino and a banana using the app before leaving home. He also provides an approximate time window when he’ll arrive at the coffee shop.
On arrival at Michelle’s, his phone ‘sees’ the Meraki BLE enabled AP. The app will then alert Michelle’s computer system, via its regular internet connection, that John has arrived. By way of acknowledgement, a notification will pop up on John’s phone confirming his order is in preparation.
A freshly made cappuccino is prepared and delivered directly to the collection point, together with a fresh organic banana.
A second notification is sent to John’s phone confirming his treats are ready to go, at the same time prompting him to make an optional tip and enclosing a receipt.
With treats in hand, John gains another loyalty point and is quickly on his way.
This simple example neatly illustrates just one of the many potential use cases for beacons. With their inclusion in every MR32 (indoor) and MR72 (outdoor) access point, the possibilities for improved efficiency, analytics and engagement are many. In addition, this is an opt-in technology, a crucial advantage in gaining consumer trust. The consumer elects to use an app like this, on the understanding that they derive benefit in the form points and a more seamless experience with the brand which has won their loyalty.
With WiFi coverage approaching ubiquitous, integrating beacons into a powered AP makes sense. One piece of hardware to manage, and no need to worry about batteries.
We’ll be back with another simple example soon. In the meantime we hope this gets your creative juices flowing imagining all the interesting ways beacons could be put to use. We’d love to hear your ideas. Why not share via Twitter or our online community.
On August 31, Cisco and Apple announced a new strategic partnership. To address the ever-increasing demands on corporate infrastructure, Cisco networks and iOS devices will be optimized so that they work together more efficiently, with the goal of providing users even greater performance. Read more reflections on this significant announcement from Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins.
With the release of iOS 9 today, Meraki is announcing same day support for Systems Manager, made possible by the agile cloud architecture for which we’re renowned.
iOS 9 brings new functionality to MDM, with new restrictions such as being able to disallow sharing of managed documents with AirDrop and disabling iCloud Photo Library. There are also a host of new supervised restrictions available, which include the ability to control:
The App Store
Pairing with Apple Watch
Modification of passcode settings
Modification of device name
Modification of wallpaper
Automatic downloading of apps purchased on other devices
Automatically trusting enterprise apps
The News app
Systems Manager customers who are using the legacy, license free version will be able to manage devices running iOS 9, but will not receive the new iOS 9 functionality such as the extra restrictions. If you would like to upgrade to take advantage of the new features and gain access to many others, such as 24/7 support and network policy integration with Systems Manager Sentry, contact the sales team for more information.
We know there are going to be many questions we won’t be able to cover in a single blog post. To help provide more detail on iOS 9 and what’s new in Systems Manager, we are running a “What’s new with iOS 9 and Systems Manager” webinar on Tuesday the September 29th at 9am PDT. Register today to reserve your place, and to find out more about the new functionality such as VPP app provisioning by device rather than by user.
It’s an exciting time for our London-based Merakians!
Over the past few years, our London team has grown from just a handful of employees sharing a cramped cupboard and taking calls under desks to a large, multicultural and multilingual team. However, even though our team was growing, we were limited on space and needed to split ourselves between two buildings to compensate for our growing numbers.
Last week marked a new era for our European base of operations, unveiling an expansive new office in the heart of London! This new office provides ample room for all of our current employees, as well as plenty of room for growth as we continue to hire. Numerous Meraki individuals spent countless hours designing, planning, and creating this space which cultivates creativity, fosters the fun-loving Meraki spirit, and enables our world-class teams to provide unique and quintessentially ‘Meraki’ customer experiences.
The London team is looking forward to expanding their reach around the globe and this new office gives them the ability to do that easily and effectively. Take a look at a few photos from the new space!
A London-based nonprofit, onebillion aims to deliver sustainable, localized learning to the one billion children around the world lacking adequate access to education. The group develops educational apps to teach fundamental literacy and numerical skills to young children in their own language. The onebillion apps are available in over 50 languages and purchased by parents and teachers around the world. The profits from these app sales are then used to provide learning tools to children in developing countries.
One of the ways onebillion promotes global education is through their physical ‘oneclass’ learning centers. Five of these centers have been piloted in Malawi, where large class sizes and lack of educational resources are persistent and debilitating issues. In oneclass, solar-powered, locked-down iPads deliver onebillion math apps in Chichewa, the local language. Children are able to learn at their own pace and are rewarded every step of the way, with teachers helping in each of the centers.
oneclass students in action
The onebillion team caught our eye with their important mission, as well as with their unique use of Systems Manager, the Meraki MDM solution. They are currently using Systems Manager to lock down iPads with feature restrictions and single app mode, to keep children focused on the onebillion app at hand. The IT team is able to remotely keep track of their device inventory, important when planning for future device procurement and learning center development. onebillion enterprise apps are pushed out to each device from a local server, so they are available locally on every iPad. Utilizing features such as Apple DEP integration, custom profiles, content restrictions, and more, the onebillion team is able to remotely monitor and manage all the learning center iPads to keep the focus in the classroom on learning, not device management.
Solar-powered iPads in ‘oneclass’
Over the next three years, another 63 new learning centers will be set up in Malawi. In Uganda, the first oneclass will open later this year. The onebillion development team is also expanding into more solar-powered devices, such as solar-powered projectors with built-in Apple TV and wireless monitoring of iPads to help instructors with large groups. We wish them the best with their mission, and hope Systems Manager continues to help manage these transformational iPads along the way!
In this second half of our spotlight on the Meraki internship program, we recorded a conversation with three of our Support interns: Francesca, Holly, and Andy. Listen to the following two-part podcast to hear the full story, straight from the interns!
All three Support interns are current university students, studying varying forms of networking: Francesca at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Holly at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Andy at Purdue University. They all became interested in Meraki after engaging with current employees at their respective school’s career fairs and seeing a demo of the Meraki dashboard. Holly was actually able to deploy Meraki access points during a previous internship, which planted the seed for her love of Meraki even before she heard of our internship program.
The interns describe the Meraki Support internship as “all about the customer”, as well as interacting with the larger support team. “We take cases just like everybody else, directly from the customer. We help solve their problems and help them better understand and use their Meraki products,” shared Holly. The interns have had the chance to rotate between various support roles. These included re-creating customer problems in the lab, working with some of our largest hospitality customers, answering email cases, and jumping into the phone queue with the network engineers on the front lines. “It’s totally up to you what you want to work on. Every day is different,” said Andy.
The interns have had the chance to get their hands on every Meraki product during their time here. Francesca has formed a soft spot for Systems Manager MDM, and has been able to specialize with that product line during her internship. “In the past I’ve worked on teams that have had a lot of problems that could have been solved with Systems Manager,” she explained.
The interns all spoke to how well everyone on the Support team works together. “There’s a ton of collective knowledge, and everybody’s always willing to answer your questions and help out. It makes us a better team as a whole,” said Holly.
“It’s also a really fun environment, you want to come to work every day,” the interns agreed.
Check out the podcast to hear what the interns are up to while answering customer calls (hint: slacklines and puppies are involved), what other departments they’ve been able to work with, the fun highlights of their time in the San Francisco office, the ‘Intern House’, and more.
Meraki internships are a great way to learn things you won’t find in an average textbook – keep an eye on our jobs page for future opportunities.