For IT professionals, delivering service and support to remote workers can be challenging—but it doesn’t have to be.
Demand for support has increased as more workforces go entirely or partially remote. Today’s workforces and workplaces mean corporate networks may no longer support primarily office-based employees. Rather, because remote and corporate workers communicate with the network, they generate new types of trouble tickets and potential headaches in areas like security and connectivity, which can impact employee experience.
Workers at home expect to have the same simple, secure, and reliable network access they get on-site so they can stay connected to cloud-based collaboration applications without any glitches. The last thing remote workers want to worry about is the performance of their network connection or how to configure their VPN.
To stay competitive and thrive, businesses must simplify their networking infrastructure by adopting a cloud network architecture. Gartner estimates that by 2025, over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021. The inherent nature of a cloud network means that resources are shared, allowing businesses to quickly spin them up when needed. This provides the scale and flexibility organizations need to thrive in a cost-efficient way.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that a growing number of IT teams have found that embracing a cloud-first approach to networking and connectivity leads to success.
Built for immediate connectivity
To fulfill the opportunities that remote workforces offer—such as a broad ecosystem of employees, a more diverse pool of candidates, and a better ability to retain key team members and recruit new staff—and address challenges like security, equal access to resources, and a delightful experience for remote employees, IT leaders want scalable solutions that are simple to set up and manage.
Cisco Meraki devices are designed to be plugged in virtually anywhere in the world to instantly deliver a seamless in-office experience at home. With Meraki cloud management, IT professionals maintain visibility across employee networks and network performance.
The Meraki dashboard also empowers IT admins to quickly identify VPN clients within the organization.
How Meraki can help
With remote work technologies by Meraki, IT teams keep their organizations operating seamlessly and securely, wherever they are. Meraki support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help your organization’s remote, on-site, and hybrid teams do their best work. If you want to learn more about how Meraki can help mobilize your workforce, watch our on-demand webinar.
In adopting digital transformation, businesses increasingly rely on connecting cloud-specific services. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated, and in many cases, speed this adoption. By leveraging technology, businesses are likely to continue looking for ways to improve efficiency, and reduce costs, as they navigate these difficult times.
Cisco Meraki Cellular Gateway (MG) is built to address the growing demand for operational reliability and business continuity across industries. MG allows for better performance, quick provisioning, high availability, and redundancy in providing cellular wireless WAN connectivity to geographically dispersed networks.
As businesses are starting to take advantage of the advancements in cellular technology, we’re empowering them to be scalable. The shift towards the distributed application model, workforces, and software-defined technologies is leading to the increased need for API access to the network. The good news is that MG can be configured and managed using the Meraki Dashboard API!
What can the Meraki API do for your cellular WAN connectivity?
Through automation and integrations, the Meraki Dashboard API for MG enables scale, growth, and future-proofing.
IT teams can add new organizations, administrators, cellular networks, and MG devices across thousands of locations in minutes with an automation script. By automating network provisioning and bulk configurations, IT teams can minimize manual and routine tasks, freeing up time to work on more important things such as optimizing for better performance or developing modern apps. The Meraki Dashboard API also offers flexibility in cloning sites or developing templates to help you get MGs deployed easily.
Much of configuration-related set up such as DHCP, LAN, port forwarding rules, subnet pool, and uplink settings, entails repetitive tasks and is prone to human error. Network administrators spend a lot of time on these repetitive configuration and monitoring tasks that can be automated and made error-free using APIs. With MG, customers can do so via APIs to avoid manual error and service downtime—significantly reducing the management workload.
With the Meraki Dashboard API, one of our retail customers was able to rapidly automate deployment and provisioning at more than 2000 distributed locations nationwide. The resulting streamlined operations reduced overhead and costs for them.
Integration and future-proofing
The potential of the Meraki Dashboard API goes beyond faster, seamless, and cost-effective automation. Meraki API services are easy to use, easy to train staff to program with, and ripe for technology partners to continue to build native integrations on top of. For growing businesses, using these API services can significantly increase speed-to-market.
The Cisco Meraki Dashboard API is a RESTful API that uses HTTPS requests to a URL and JSON as a human-readable format. So, what does this mean for our customers? This higher software programmability using structured network data makes it easier to integrate with business logic systems. When building APIs, they can choose from a larger pool of skilled resources. Businesses can build their dashboard for store managers or specific use cases, allowing them to quickly add new services.
Lack of end-to-end visibility is problematic when troubleshooting network issues such as high latency and jitter. By monitoring the cellular connectivity and signal strength of MG devices through APIs, IT teams can save hours of troubleshooting. Meraki APIs make our platform extensible and allow you to be agile in responding to quickly changing business needs. Meraki offers a comprehensive platform that complements out-of-the-box management and analytics for Wireless WAN deployments with the integrations and solutions powered by Meraki APIs.
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.
Last month at Cisco Partner Summit, we announced the newest addition to the Meraki platform – the MG Cellular Gateway. The reaction to MG has been overwhelming with customers and partners eagerly waiting to get their hands on it, and now, the wait is over. We’re pleased to announce that MG is officially orderable today – try it out for yourself.
If you’re hearing about MG for the first time, then read on…
What is it?
The MG Cellular Gateway is a brand new Meraki product line that takes a cellular signal and transforms it into a wired Ethernet connection that can then be propagated down to the rest of a network via a router.
Cellular is growing
Cellular usage as a viable enterprise-grade connectivity option has been steadily growing with advances in throughput and availability in particular. IDC estimates the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the global LTE gateway market to be approximately 25% with around half of all enterprises using cellular as their current backup network solution for WAN connectivity.
The Meraki MG Cellular Gateway is our second wave of investment into cellular products. Last year we introduced a range of small branch MX security & SD-WAN appliances with integrated LTE modems to deliver all-in-one cellular failover capability. Customer response to the embedded cellular range has made those models one of the most popular of the MX line over the past year.
So there’s obvious an appetite in cellular products, but in what scenario would an MG cellular gateway be useful?
Cellular signal strength
One of the biggest challenges with utilizing cellular connectivity is getting the signal itself to where it’s needed. For most enterprises, geographical cellular coverage is not the issue. The challenge is usually with signal strength where the networking equipment is located. More often than not, this tends to be a network closet or server room deep inside a building, where cellular reception is likely to be poor or sporadic at best.
Antennas from cellular devices in a closet or server room can be extended to a location with better signal using a coaxial cable, however this is only practical over short distances. Coaxial cables are susceptible to high signal loss, making them unsuitable to transport a cellular signal over all but short distances.
Meraki MG cellular gateways are IP67 rated, meaning they can be optimally positioned, indoors or outdoors, to receive maximum signal strength. Cellular signal from MGs is delivered to the rest of the network via an Ethernet cable which experiences zero signal loss even over larger distances. Ethernet delivery also means that MG can be paired with any router on the market downstream to provide another uplink for SD-WAN or as a failover/primary link.
As you would expect with a Meraki product, MG is supremely simple, and of course managed from the same dashboard as the rest of the Meraki portfolio.
A decade head start
MG is built on the industry’s most trusted cloud infrastructure, backed by over 10 years of experience supporting nearly half a million customers globally, including numerous deployments in excess of 20,000 locations. Leveraging this backend infrastructure means that Meraki is uniquely positioned to rapidly bring new products and product lines to market that are supremely scalable and robust, from day one.
What about 5G?
There’s a lot of hype and excitement around 5G, and rightly so. Compared to 4G, 5G promises
10x latency reduction
10x increase in connection density
100x more traffic capacity
As hugely exciting as these capabilities are, there’s still some time before they become a reality. Firstly the 5G standard itself needs to be ratified – the timing of which is still to be confirmed. Moreover, as was the case with the preceding generations of cellular technology, multiple elements need to be completed before 5G adoption can become widespread: carriers need to certify 5G with their respective infrastructure and roll out new equipment to provide coverage, and client devices compatible with 5G need to proliferate.
Given the backend that Meraki has built, we’ve always been among the first to bring the latest technology innovations to our customers as we did with 802.11ac waves 1 and 2, and most recently, Wi-Fi 6. 5G will be no different. We’re closely tracking the progress of 5G, and are ideally positioned to deliver a solution to our customers that will allow them to fully leverage the enhancements in latency and throughput efficiencies that it promises, at scale.
So whether you’re starting your Meraki journey with MG or continuing it with adding to your existing Meraki deployment, you’re investing in a proven platform that’s ready to offer you unprecedented visibility and management, today.
You are probably aware of the increasing use of cloud-hosted applications, as well as the worldwide availability of reliable LTE coverage. You’ve almost certainly witnessed the increasing use of mobile devices, growth of video traffic, and increasing security threats. These trends challenge modern organizations to adapt to a complex landscape with higher bandwidth requirements, multiple uplinks, and threats that can take down networks. Despite these complexities, IT admins can use new technologies to position their branch networks for a successful future.
Today, we are excited to announce brand new additions to our MX and Z products, with multiple new MX security & SD-WAN appliances, along with a new Z-Series teleworker and IoT device. With upgraded and improved hardware, the additions to the MX line feature higher throughputs, faster Wi-Fi, and integrated LTE modems. The built-in modems will offer a greatly simplified way to connect remote locations or provide failover redundancy via LTE.
The MX67 and MX68 lineup
The new MX products benefit from state of the art new hardware features designed to deal with an evolving branch environment:
Up to 450 Mbps Throughput
802.11ac Wave 2 Wireless
Integrated 300 Mbps CAT 6 LTE cellular modem
The MX family adds six new models to the highly successful MX64 and MX65 small branch security & SD-WAN appliances. The new MX67 and MX68 products include models with wired, wireless, cellular, and PoE+ capabilities. Both the MX67C and MX68CW feature region-specific SKUs to accommodate separate cellular bands. Meraki is partnering with mobile providers to fully certify the cellular platforms across all regions. For more details of MX67, MX67W, MX68, MX68W, and the cellular MX67C, MX68CW visit the MX datasheet.
The new Z-Series
We are also delighted to add a new model to our feature-packed Z-Series teleworker gateway family with the Meraki Z3C, now with LTE. A built-in 100 Mbps CAT 3 LTE modem in the Z3C provides an elegant way to add redundancy for teleworker deployments. Our customers are also excited about using the Z3C to securely connect remote or isolated machinery such as vending machines, ATMs, and kiosks.
LTE in the dashboard
Similar to the rest of Meraki’s products, these new cellular MX and Z-Series models offer exceptional visibility via the Meraki dashboard. For these models, IT admins can monitor current traffic and historical performance, as well as the ability to troubleshoot and configure their LTE connections. For example, the dashboard allows users to configure and reset their cellular connection with a few clicks of a button. There will be a new LTE API, and the dashboard will make it simple to manage devices at scale using templates.
The Meraki MX continues to march forward in its mission to provide market-leading threat intelligence and an intuitive SD-WAN offering to keep customers connected and secure. Try out the new devices for yourself with a free trial, and let us know what you think.
One more thing…
Speaking of free trials, for those purchasing the new MX and Z-Series models in the next three months, we have an additional treat: a free 45-day trial of Meraki Insight, our intuitive tool for monitoring and troubleshooting WAN and application performance. With Insight, IT admins can monitor the status of all uplinks in the organization, and troubleshoot any network outages within seconds. It also provides detailed performance metrics to understand the root cause of ISP outages. Contact a Meraki sales representative for more information.