Organizations across industries are eager to build their Wireless WAN infrastructure on the Meraki platform and some of them already have a head start with our new product line – MG Cellular Gateway. MG provides a solution for optimal cellular signal strength. It gives our customers the flexibility of pairing MG with any Meraki or Cisco ISR/vEdge router or 3rd party router to provide another uplink for SD-WAN, or as a failover or primary link.
MG was only launched a couple of months ago and we’re already releasing new features. There is no better way to see these features in action than to try it out for yourself.
Quick network diagnosis
We’re always seeking to provide capabilities that truly add value to our customer’s business. For cellular troubleshooting, customers have frequently told us how challenging it can get without any visibility into the signal characteristics at their site. This lack of control leads to them taking a hit on business functions that rely on cellular signals.
MG users can now take advantage of this data within the Meraki platform to quickly diagnose what’s affecting cellular connectivity, or what led to performance degradation, through historical stats— signal strength, latency, and loss—that are visual and easy to interpret. By knowing how cellular connectivity is at certain sites at any given time, it’s simple to get to the root cause of network issues. Easy monitoring of live data along with the signal level, signal quality, and connectivity data could potentially save hours of troubleshooting.
It gets even better with an API-driven architecture. MG can be managed completely through APIs, giving customers the flexibility of custom reporting and integrations that they need. Stay tuned for more updates!
How to access
From your Meraki dashboard, go to Monitor->Cellular gateways; select the MG for which you’d like to get the health data, and then go to Uplink from the menu bar. Scroll below to view the historical and connectivity data as far as 30 days in the past.
Since its launch in 2016, the MV smart camera has been making the deployment of security cameras hassle-free for network administrators and security camera specialists. With onboard storage and management through the Meraki dashboard, from anywhere, the MV camera is essentially plug-and-play. However, for larger deployments with different coverage scenarios and target use cases, one can spend a lot of time and a lot of clicks customizing settings across all cameras and networks.
With the new quality and retention profiles and APIs, you can now deploy your cameras faster than ever before.
Bulk configure using profiles on the dashboard
Each camera deployment faces unique requirements. Some cameras, like the ones facing entrances, or monitoring important assets, may need to record with the highest resolution, frame rate and bitrate, for the most amount of detail when identifying faces. Some sites have strict retention requirements and may require scheduled recording, motion-based retention and the lowest resolution and quality. With profiles, everything under the camera’s “Quality and retention” tab can be combined together and applied in one go.
After creating quality and retention profiles on the dashboard, you can then easily select multiple cameras within a network and bulk-assign them the same settings.
Bulk-assign a profile to a number of cameras through the nodes list page
More information on using the quality and retention profiles can be found on the Meraki Documentation site.
Work even smarter using APIs
On top of being able to use profiles to quickly apply settings to multiple cameras, you can work even faster by using a number of APIs that provide more freedom and automation.
You can perform the following actions using APIs:
Quality and retention profiles (for a given network)
List the quality retention profiles
Create new quality retention profile
Retrieve a single quality retention profile
Update an existing quality retention profile
Delete an existing quality retention profile
Individual quality and retention settings (for a given camera)
Return a list of all camera recording schedules
Return quality and retention settings
Update quality and retention settings (individually, or using a profile)
We’ve been hard at work making it even easier for developers to build and deploy with the Meraki platform! We recently released action batches – a batch framework that allows developers to create custom, sequenced “recipes” (or batches) of API commands to write applications, spin up networks, and/or execute a series of configurations across any number of networks.
With action batches, a configuration task that previously required 100 requests can now be accomplished with only one! Other benefits and capabilities for developers include:
Reduced code complexity – deploy multiple changes across networks and devices
Improved efficiency – run batches synchronously or asynchronously
Bulk error detection – ensure all updates will succeed before changes are committed
Here’s an example of action batches in action. In this video demo, we’ll use the Meraki dashboard and Postman (a tool for working with APIs) to show different elements of an action batch we have pre-baked. In just a few minutes, we will use action batches to configure multiple global networks, claim devices in these networks, and configure a host of settings on these devices. To learn more about this demo (or run it yourself) check out this guide on our Developer Hub.
At launch, here are the resources supported by action batches:
Group policy (create/update/delete)
Wireless traffic shaping (update)
Switch port (update)
Radio settings (bind)
Management Interface Settings (update)
…but wait, there’s more! Alongside the release of action batches, we’d like to highlight some other exciting new endpoints now available for the Meraki dashboard API:
Group policy provisioning (create a new policy or modify settings for an existing one)
Management IP addressing (set DHCP vs. static IP addressing, gateway IP, VLAN, subnet mask and DNS servers)
Webhook Logs for an Organization
Organization-wide device index
Switch port profile bind (for switch templates)
For additional details on action batches and other new endpoints, please visit the documentation on our Developer Hub. We will also talk more about these on our upcoming API webinar – register here to join us!
Cisco Live comes to America! Cisco’s largest event is going to be held in San Diego from June 9-13, 2019. Expecting close to 30,000 attendees, the San Diego convention centre will have a stellar lineup of events covering blockchain, AI/ML in the cloud, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and so much more.
While Cisco Live presents an exciting opportunity to meet our product team and explore our brand new launches, you’d be remiss if you didn’t take full advantage of the breakout sessions featuring our entire product line, APIs and other integrations. All of our sessions help you derive additional value from your Meraki network through intelligent data gathering and increasing operational efficiency. Our hands-on lab sessions will help you experience and deploy a host of Meraki solutions from scratch.
Register for the session on Meraki APIs and learn how you can build programmable cloud networking tools to thoughtfully address your changing customer needs. Interested in how cameras can be used for more than just security? Our session on MV smart cameras highlights how they act as sensors by transforming video data into actionable information.
Learn how to make your network management simpler and more intuitive by registering for our session on Intent-Based Networks (IBN). Be sure to register for our deep dive into Meraki-powered SD-WAN and find out why Meraki MR + Cisco Umbrella is a match made in heaven for wireless threat protection. Do you have a network with both on-cloud and on-prem solutions? Learn how to automate and deploy these securely in our session on hybrid networks.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Now imagine along with each motion alert you receive from the Meraki dashboard, you simultaneously obtain a snapshot image from the camera feed to validate the cause of the trigger. Or perhaps you just want to call up a snapshot from your camera because you got word of pesky gnomes drinking tea in your coffee bar… again.
While you may not be trying to catch gnomes sharing a cup of tea together, the power of a picture extends into multiple situations and use cases. You can improve site visibility by accessing a snapshot of your camera feed on-demand from a simple text message, improve video analytics capabilities with third-party API integrations (click here for a cool example), or validate a motion alert with an attached image of the trigger event in your email notification. All of this and more is possible with the new Meraki MV Snapshot API.
The Snapshot API is a new RESTful API endpoint available through the Meraki dashboard that allow you access to a screenshot from your live or historical video. Once enabled, your application can find your camera through an HTTP POST request specifying a unique network ID and serial number. The camera will respond with a snapshot and expiration date after which the image will no longer be available.
Setting up the Snapshot API
How do you get started? Like otherMeraki dashboard APIs, API integrations begin by enabling your organization’s Meraki dashboard API access. If you haven’t already, do this by navigating to Organization > Settings, and clicking the checkbox to enable access to the dashboard API. Now, navigate to your profile page by clicking on your account name in the top right corner and selecting My profile. Find the section labeled API access and generate a new API key.
Once generated, you can use the API key in your application and submit an HTTP POST request to generate the snapshot of your choosing.
The Snapshot API has many applications, opening a huge array of cool use cases restricted only by your imagination. Get started by accessing MV API documentation and let us know how you plan on using this new API in the Meraki Community pages.
Every quarter, the Cisco Meraki product marketing team presents a comprehensive review of new product introductions and improvements released over the previous three months. By keeping customers informed on a regular basis about what’s new at Meraki, we hope to help them make the most of their Meraki deployments.
While the Meraki Quarterly consistently enjoys excellent attendance, we’re cognizant of the fact that many IT admins find it difficult to find the time to watch an hour-long webinar. For those who haven’t found the time to watch the full webinar, here’s a quick recap of some of the material we went over earlier this month.
1. Improvements to Maps and floor plans
Meraki network admins have long enjoyed viewing their MR access points on floor plans in the Meraki dashboard. This helps in optimizing indoor and outdoor wireless coverage and figuring out where to place new access points.
Now, admins can map MS switches and MV cameras in addition to their access points. We think this is an exciting development for MV in particular, since mapping cameras can help admins ensure that important areas receive the surveillance coverage they need. Read more about the newest member of your floor plans.
2. An update on MX LTE deployments
Back in August 2018, Meraki introduced a slew of new MX security and Z-Series teleworker appliances, with a few new models that come with integrated LTE. By baking LTE right into the product instead of forcing admins to attach a separate cellular dongle, we hoped to give IT admins a new level of visibility into their connections and the ability to leverage a new set of APIs to make these MX models a new platform to build new capabilities on top of. Just five months later, we’re pleased to report that organizations worldwide have embraced this vision.
In the webinar, we briefly discussed how a few Meraki customers have taken unique advantage of our MX models with built-in LTE. Here are a couple of examples:
A globally distributed food processing company previously paid for an expensive secondary uplink to augment its primary uplink, afraid of the downtime that could occur if the primary uplink failed. After deploying new MX models with built-in LTE, the company not only saved money by replacing the secondary uplink with a less expensive LTE backup, but also gained centralized visibility via the Meraki dashboard of all uplinks.
A media company with numerous locations around the United States needed the ability to stream multiple streams of live video from branch sites back to headquarters. Relying solely on one ISP simply wasn’t an option, so the company deployed MX security appliances as well as Z-Series teleworker devices, both equipped with LTE connections, to arm employees in different locations with reliable connectivity back to HQ.
Watch the webinar for additional ideas of ways your organization can leverage the power of MX + LTE.
3. Endpoint management becomes even simpler
Since its debut, Meraki Systems Manager (SM) has offered customers a comprehensive endpoint management solution that brings device management, application management, content management, and mobile identity under a single umbrella. This past quarter, the Systems Manager team was hard at work at making SM even easier and more powerful. These improvements include:
A revamped Applications page that makes it simpler to perform bulk operations (e.g., update or delete) and search for just the right app
A new Target Groups feature that gives admins more flexibility in delivering apps, profiles, and configurations to the right groups of devices
Support for tvOS, enabling education, retail, and hospitality customers to manage and deploy Apple TVs en masse
Enhanced Windows 10 support and smoother enrollment processes for Android devices
Finally, we highlighted a new Customer Success Training program available for customers who purchase at least 200 SM licenses. This training gives customers the opportunity to engage one-on-one with a Systems Manager expert for assistance with deploying and configuring SM across different devices.
4. MV smart cameras make massive moves
Meraki MV smart cameras took a major leap forward last November with the launch of two new hardware models, extensible analytics capabilities, and a new cloud archive option. Since then, the MV team has hardly rested on its laurels, continuing to work hard to bring new improvements to the experience of managing cameras in the Meraki dashboard.
In addition to the aforementioned ability to place MVs on maps and floor plans, admins can now use up to 12x digital zoom to get a close look at live and historical footage and set up rotating video walls to monitor multiple scenes from one place. Additionally, admins can gain access to more detailed analytics with configurable zones. As an example, a large department store could organize multiple MVs scattered throughout the men’s area under a single “Men’s Zone” and use the MV’s people counting capabilities to see how many people navigate through the men’s area in a certain timespan, whether they’re looking at men’s pants, shirts, or shoes.
Finally, during the webinar, we took a deep dive at MV Sense, a set of integrations that let admins build interesting business solutions that leverage the data collected by MV cameras. To provide a bit of inspiration, we highlighted a few fun use cases that Meraki has built involving Nerf guns, a piano, and a light that changes color based on how many people are detected in the frame!
5. A deeper look at APIs
Did you know that one out of every five Meraki customers is using APIs? We’re incredibly pleased with the uptake of our API offerings. During the quarterly webinar, we walked through a whole host of new features and enhancements recently made to the Meraki dashboard API. For example, webhook alerts now let you subscribe to cloud-based alerts in any receiving service, and admins can use templates to configure many different syslog servers at once.
Visit apps.meraki.io for turnkey solutions developed by Meraki and third-party developers. To learn how to create your own solutions using APIs to build on the Meraki platform, visit create.meraki.io.
The full recording of the January 2019 Meraki Quarterly contains tons more detail, and we encourage you to watch it if possible. If you weren’t able to make it this time around, no worries — we’ll be back in April with another quarterly.
Want to sound off on something we covered? Head to the Meraki Community and let us know your thoughts!
Enterprise organizations and partners spend thousands of dollars per site deploying servers for monitoring and reporting on infrastructure located on-site. With the total number of devices globally, including client devices, ever increasing and becoming more critical to business, monitoring and reporting using traditional means such as SNMP simply aren’t cost effective or scalable any longer.
While the Cisco Meraki dashboard provides IT admins a single interface to monitor and manage their Meraki infrastructure, we appreciate that not all organizations will have deployed the entire portfolio of Meraki devices across all their locations. Moreover some customers may have unique use cases that fall outside of what the Meraki dashboard is intended for. For these reasons, Meraki has been heavily investing in APIs over the last few years. To date, Meraki has hundreds of API endpoints being called over 23 million times every day across three powerful APIs: the dashboard, scanning, and captive portal APIs.
The Meraki dashboard API The Meraki dashboard API allows access to most monitoring and configuration functionality in the dashboard via a RESTful API. This allows customers and developers alike to:
Bulk provision thousands of Meraki devices and networks
Build custom monitoring and reporting dashboards
Automate commonly used functionality of the Meraki dashboard
In February we introduced Wireless Health, a powerful tool that consolidates and intelligently utilizes multiple data sets to rapidly identify anomalies impacting end users’ experience. In September we added a collection of new API endpoints for Wireless Health to expand the monitoring and reporting capabilities to any external analytics system or platform.
The dashboard API is a great way to monitor and report on the state of a device, for example, over a period of time. However, if all you want to do is simply be notified when something changes, then the dashboard API might not be the most efficient way to do this. The dashboard API will perpetually ask “what’s your status” to a device and report back its findings. If calls are being made, say, every 5 minutes, that’s a lot of total responses that are being received, and likely only a handful of them will deliver useful information, i.e. when the device goes offline.
MERAKI WEBHOOK ALERTS We’re pleased to announce the availability of Meraki Webhook Alerts for all alerts within the dashboard. Setting up Webhook Alerts is very straightforward:
Add HTTP servers by defining their unique URL and shared secret [ network-wide > alerts ]
Added HTTP servers can now be selected as a recipient for any alert within the dashboard [ network-wide > alerts ]
In addition to webhooks themselves, we’re releasing new API endpoints for configuring all alert settings, which will include support for configuring the above steps via the dashboard API.
Once set up, the webhook will send an HTTP POST to a unique URL, but only when a certain condition or criteria has been met to trigger an alert. So, for example, if you’re only interested in being notified when a device goes offline, Webhook Alerting will be more efficient since it will only transmit information when the status of the device goes from online to offline.
Meraki Webhook Alerts
Meraki Webhook Alerts sends HTTP POSTs to a unique URL that can easily be fed into a receiving service. A receiving service can be as simple as a Webex Teams space, a Google Sheet logging all network alerts, or something more advanced, such as PagerDuty and ServiceNow, that can take the POSTs and create support tickets, send SMS messages to concerned parties, or even automate corrective action.
A notification of a settings change to the Meraki dashboard posted to a Webex Teams space using Meraki Webhook Alerts
Both the dashboard API and Webhook Alerts have their merits and use cases, and together offer administrators, system integrators, and developers powerful and flexible options to create custom monitoring and alerting.
Real-time alerting Webhook Alerts are fundamentally event-driven which makes them the most efficient option for setting up alerts for critical events.
“Tell me immediately when latency for any of my sites’ APs exceeds 200ms” “Tell me as soon as any Meraki device across any location goes offline” “Tell me when an important device on my network loses connectivity”
Webhooks example: real-time alerting based on a threshold or criteria
Monitoring and reporting over time The dashboard API will provide a more complete picture and historical reporting since it’s continually probing for data. It’ll be the more appropriate option to use to answer questions such as
“How many times did the latency of my access points peak above 200ms over the last week” “What was the latency of the access point in conference room 3 last Thursday at 3 pm”
The dashboard API example: continuous monitoring of a variable over time
The introduction of Meraki Webhook Alerts combined with the dashboard API means that customers and developers can now more easily address their custom reporting and alerting requirements without breaking the bank.
API: Application Programmable Interface. For those in the know, this term is as everyday as “the cloud,” “app store,” or “WiFi.” For those not in the know, however, it might as well be an excerpt from a language belonging to an undiscovered species of extraterrestrial life.
You might Google what an API is and you’ll probably get a result along the lines of “allows one piece of software to interact with another piece of software.” Although technically accurate, this description barely scratches the surface of the huge possibilities that lie behind this humble three-letter acronym.
One of the most straightforward analogies for APIs likens it to the classic shape-sorting toy box. The shaped pieces such as triangles and squares can be considered data and the lid, the interface. Shapes can move in and out of the box through the correct hole in the lid. Similarly, an API expects data in a certain format and its interface will reject it if it falls outside of this.
Each software vendor that provides an API will have its own custom shaped pieces (data), lid (interface), and set of rules that govern their interaction.
Great…but why all the hype?
APIs allow developers to code a new program or app incredibly quickly. Rather than having to develop an entirely new app from scratch, developers can leverage existing data and processes, and simply code in additional customization. In this way, an existing app can be used (via APIs) to create a new one to satisfy a unique variant of the use case the original app addressed.
Let’s consider an app called Citymapper. Although its functionality is now largely similar to Google Maps, thanks to some updates to the latter, it was quite novel when it first appeared on the scene a few years ago. Citymapper leverages Google Maps (and all its data and processes) via APIs to provide routes from A to B in select cities around the world but also provides all the real-time transportation options available for the given city such as train, bus, walking, taxi, etc. Citymapper’s developers would have found it almost impossible to code the app if they had to code a substitute for Google Maps too. Additionally, Citymapper doesn’t have to worry about the gargantuan task of keeping the map data up to date.
What’s the deal with Meraki APIs?
From our very beginnings, our fundamental focus has been the extreme simplicity and usability of the Meraki dashboard. In some specific use cases, however, avoiding complexity is… unavoidable! In trying to add functionality for specialized and unique use cases, we would potentially compromise the very simplicity that we’ve worked so hard to synonymize ourselves with.
The Meraki API strategy
Our strategy to address these outlying applications, without complicating the beautiful simplicity of the dashboard, is to invest heavily in open APIs while continuing to develop functionality directly in the dashboard to solve customers’ common problems. This allows our customers, partners, and developers to extend the reach of the Meraki platform to build more specialized use cases.
Change the game
A closed software platform can be thought of like a board game: it has a fixed set of rules and options leading to a fixed set of scenarios or outcomes. If you get bored of a particular board game or outgrow it, then there’s only one real option: move on to a different board game. And so the cycle starts again.
In contrast, a software platform with open APIs, like Meraki, can be thought of like a deck of cards. A deck of cards isn’t constrained by a fixed set of rules. With one deck of cards you can play dozens of variants of poker. If your audience doesn’t know how to play poker or prefers a different game, that’s not a problem. The same deck can be used to play blackjack, solitaire, rummy, go fish… you could even invent your own game! The options are endless.
The same is true for the Meraki dashboard with its open APIs. The dashboard natively collects huge amounts of data about clients, location, application usage, etc. While there are ways to manipulate this monitoring information within the dashboard itself, the possibilities open up exponentially when you can export this information in real time. And even more so when you couple this with the ability to execute configuration commands through APIs.
Meraki customers, partners, and developers are using the open APIs to expand the use cases of the dashboard: from rolling out sophisticated loyalty programs integrated with CRM systems, to developing wayfinding apps relying on the location information captured by Meraki APs, to automating Meraki network provisioning across thousands of locations in the matter of minutes.
Get involved Meraki is committed to helping developers get up to speed with Meraki APIs to create novel ways to expand the potential of the dashboard. Get started with Meraki APIs, learn about real-life applications, complete labs, and download sample code at the Meraki developers site.
Free gear We’re giving away $1M of Meraki equipment to developers who are eager to get hands-on with the APIs. Get your free kit here.
Stay up to date Our engineers are continually adding new APIs for the dashboard. Check out the latest list directly in the dashboard (Help > API docs).
The Meraki MV camera eliminates many of the underlying costs and complexity of owning and operating video surveillance systems. The elimination of all physical components, other than the camera, is highly attractive to a wide range of organizations. This broad appeal leads to users with a diverse set of problems, often beyond the scope of the products current feature set.
Beyond the cross-product APIs available for the Meraki dashboard, there are currently no APIs or raw video feeds available for Meraki MV users. Camera configuration, video streaming, and analytics data are only available inside the Meraki dashboard.
By having a closed end-to-end system, we can ensure an exceptionally easy, enjoyable, and secure user experience. At its core, Meraki provides ease of use and simplicity. This is underpinned with a focus on solving customer problems first and building features second.
With these principles in mind, we need to work out what customers want to do with APIs. Collating these problems into categories we end up with the following:
Off camera storage, providing:
The first category covers the need for bulk storage or off-camera recording. We see two important uses for this type of functionality: The desire to retain video longer than is possible with edge storage, and instances where an off-camera or off-site backup is a mandatory requirement for compliance purposes.
MV’s architecture is designed for distributed storage and compute at the edge of the network, with centralized management and control in the cloud. Allowing customers to use an API to store video outside of this architecture eliminates the simplicity and cost reduction at the heart of the product. Once video leaves the platform, it is no longer associated with its metadata. This dissociation of context would leave customers with petabytes of unsorted raw video and a significant problem.
Meraki is already evaluating how to solve these two problems. Although the functionality is not yet available, its eventual design will ensure customers are not forced to become data scientists in order to manage their video. It will keep video within the Meraki ecosystem to ensure associated metadata is not lost.
The other category of problem that drives MV API requests is systems integration: integration with business systems such as Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS), physical security access control systems such as badge readers, and 3rd party video analytics.
By blending data sources together, further context can be provided to an event. When that can of soda from the EPOS transaction turns out to be a high value bottle of wine in the video footage, you know there is a problem. We are actively working with customers to define how we integrate with these systems and what a future API should look like.
Finally, it’s a simple reality that Meraki will not provide every variation of video analytics customers would want. Niche but high value problems are an area where third party analytics could be of great value. As with presence analytics on the Meraki MR wireless platform, in the future, we will offer out-the-box functionality beneficial to a wide range of customers, and when this is not sufficient, accesses for third party analytics such as with the location analytics API.
Meraki’s MV camera portfolio is still young, and as with our other products, we will release API access as it matures. This approach ensures we solve for simplicity first, and do not offload the hard work of feature development to our customers.
All Meraki wireless products offer out–of–the–box, easy to use location features as part of Cisco’s location analytics technology, Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX). With CMX location analytics it’s possible to determine important business metrics such as how many people enter your location, how long they stay, and how frequently they visit.
Adding no additional cost, thanks to the Meraki all-inclusive licensing model, this data has become available to many organizations that could not typically justify deploying when there was an additional cost. This has led to innovative uses of the location data that has enabled smart city initiatives, and allowed educators to understand student movements.
An important component of empowering this creative use of CMX location analytics was the release of an Application Programming Interface (API). This lets organizations have access to the raw data used by the Meraki dashboard. With access to the raw data there are some major benefits. The first is that no data is summarized and full device identities are included, facilitating lookup by other applications, like CRM. The second is that the data is provided offered with only a short delay between it being created and presented to the API.
Thus the API allows for highly advanced software systems to be developed that are location and identity aware. User identity can be linked to devices, location awareness becomes bound only by the geographical dispersion of your access points (AP), and software systems can make decisions within a time span that is relevant to a device’s location.
One of the downsides of providing raw data is that it can be complex to manipulate for the application developer. For this reason, the engineering team at Meraki developed a second generation API and open source example code. The version two CMX API can be selected in the Meraki dashboard and offers X,Y coordinates and latitude and longitude values. With the first API, radio signal strength values are provided for trilateration of a devices location. Further details on what is available in the API can be found in the documentation here.
To hear more about the development of the location API, and possible uses of the source code, then you can do so by listening to the above podcast with George Bentinck (Solutions Architect) and Nathan (Member of Meraki technical staff).
If you are interested in building an application with Meraki location information, then it is worth checking out our example code on GitHub here. This provides a great way of getting started with the CMX API and can form the base of your future projects. You can try an application based on this code, with live data from the Meraki offices in San Francisco, by following this link, or by viewing example output data here.