Posts Tagged ‘MDM’

Set and forget


Not long ago the configuration of a computer’s settings were the responsibility of the end user. This spawned numerous guides, created by beleaguered IT administrators, that tried to ease the number of repetitive helpdesk support calls on common topics.

What if you could do away with the multi page WiFi configuration guide, yet still allow users to connect securely? Systems Manager Sentry provides simple, automatic security that is context aware. Sentry WiFi settings automate the configuration of mobile device wireless connectivity. This simplifies the task of joining the network for both the user and IT administrator, eliminating one of those clunky step-by-step guides from your help portal. Watch the video below to see this feature in action.

 

Systems Manager can create WiFi configuration payloads which contain configuration settings for a wireless network. It can then deliver this to the client device so they know how to get connected without the user having to follow a guide. Sentry WiFi settings take advantage of the native cloud integration of Meraki’s networking stack with Systems Manager MDM.

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With Sentry, Systems Manager queries the Meraki WLAN network to understand what the security requirements are for a chosen SSID. Now instead of the IT administrator manually configuring the settings, the configuration fields are automatically populated with the correct information, eliminating possible errors and saving time.

The convenience of Sentry WiFi settings becomes exceptionally powerful when combined with the tagging engine available in Systems Manager. Tags are Systems Manager’s way of choosing what managed devices should get what settings. As tags can be automatically applied, this means client devices can receive WiFi settings based on dynamic events such as the time of day, device user, device type, location, or security posture.

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If you would like to find out more about Systems Manager Sentry, then you can attend one of our specialist Sentry webinars, or alternatively contact your Meraki representative for more information. If you are an existing Meraki WLAN customer, Systems Manager offers an industry leading MDM capability with a unique level of network integration, that due to its simplicity can secure and automate your IT operation in minutes.

Navigate the #fullstack

 

Here at Meraki, we are continually focused on simplifying the IT management experience. One of the areas our engineering team is always paying attention to is how to offer additional benefits to customers who have multiple Meraki product types. We want every product, be that wireless, security, switching or mobility management to be outstanding in their own right, but what about when they come together?

One exceptional example of this integration is Systems Manager Sentry. With Systems Manager MDM holding a wealth of data on client devices, it can automatically configure the network based on rules you provide. Another is Group Policies, where one interface allows network-wide rules, such as firewalling and traffic shaping to be configured, no matter if the connectivity type is wired or wireless.

The Meraki dashboard is central to our cloud technology and is used to manage all our products through a simple, intuitive, and powerful interface. This is continually updated and improved based on customer feedback and internal research. The cloud infrastructure allows for these changes to be seamlessly deployed without user intervention, patches, or downtime.

In February we introduced our #fullstack campaign to highlight the benefits of a combined network view in dashboard. With a combined view, the products are grouped together so that a single site can be viewed in a single navigation pane.

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Although Systems Manager deployments could be managed from the same dashboard interface as the other products, it was previously not possible to combine them. Today we announce the beta availability of fully combined networks, with Systems Manager integrated into the navigation pane. If you would like to try out the new interface, go to the Organization Overview page within dashboard and choose Combine.

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To celebrate the arrival of the combined #fullstack network, we are running another blog promotion for our subscribers. The winner will receive a full stack of Meraki equipment, comprising the following equipment, supplied with 3 year licences:

  • 1 x MX64 Security Appliance
  • 1 x MS220-8P PoE Ethernet Switch
  • 1 x MR32 Wireless Access Point with BLE beacon technology
  • 20 x Systems Manager licences

To take part in the promotion, all you need to do is subscribe to the Meraki blog by the end of November 2015. Current subscribers are automatically entered to win.  Additional terms and conditions apply; subscription is not necessary to enter.

If you are an existing Meraki customer with only one product family today, why not try adding some of the others to learn more about the benefits of the full Meraki stack. Contact us to arrange your evaluation at no charge. You’ll be up and running in a matter of minutes, and we have a dedicated evaluation support team ready to help you at every step.

 

As if by magic

With the release of iOS 9 Apple introduced a number of improvements to the Volume Purchasing Program (VPP). Of these improvements, one of the more significant is app assignment by device. With this new functionality it is now possible to assign VPP apps to an iOS device without the need for an Apple ID, and if that device is supervised, the installation is silent.

Before this change, it was only possible to assign apps to a user by associating them with an Apple ID. This method of app management can be an administrative nightmare when used in environments such as K-12 education, where many users may be working with a particular device. Students may not have an Apple ID, or may be too young to have one without parental consent. Additionally, it meant that an Apple ID needed to be configured on the iPad for apps to be silently pushed to supervised devices.

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With VPP device assignment, an Apple ID is no longer required and with supervised devices, apps can be pushed silently with no end user interaction. Silent app push has a huge impact on an administrator’s ability to seamlessly deliver iOS apps to users. Combining this new functionality with Meraki Systems Manager features, such as multiuser authentication, can offer a fantastic classroom experience. Apps and settings are tailored to each student’s needs and dynamically changed as the user changes.

Systems Manager Legacy customers can gain access to this great new functionality by upgrading to the latest version of Systems Manager. Please contact your Meraki representative for further information or alternatively sign up for a specialist Systems Manager Teacher’s Assistant webinar here. Additionally stay tuned to our YouTube channel for additional video guides to this functionality.

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All Aboard!

Systems Manager Sentry offers a range of features that make the life of IT administrators easier. By providing simple, automatic security that is context aware, Sentry dramatically simplifies previously complex configurations. To be able to take advantage of Sentry functionality, devices need to be enrolled in Systems Manager. There are a variety of ways this can be done, but one of the simplest is by using Sentry enrollment.

Sentry enrollment is available with Meraki MR Access Points (AP) and not only automates deployment of Systems Manager, but ensures policy compliance by requiring Systems Managers installation. Sentry enrollment is an option within the wireless access control page of the Meraki dashboard. By choosing the radio button that enables Systems Manager Sentry enrollment, all devices connecting to this SSID will be checked for Systems Manager.

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With Sentry enrollment enabled and a Systems Manager network selected, the administrator then has a couple of options to choose from. The strength option allows the level of compliance to be tailored to suit your environment. With the strength set to ‘Focused’, only the system types you have chosen will be forced to enrol in Systems Manager. A good example of why this may be desirable, is if you only want mobile Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads under management, not Windows laptops. This can be achieved by choosing ‘Focused’ and selecting iOS as the only system type you wish to force to enroll.

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When a user connects to an SSID with Sentry enrollment, they must have Systems Manager to be able to access the network. If a user removes Systems Manager from their device, they will be forced to install it again if they want to access the network. Watch the video below for a full dashboard and end user demonstration of this feature in action.

Users are guided through the enrollment process with the necessary settings pre-configured for them. This eliminates the need to pre-stage devices before they are delivered to users and allows enrollment as and when devices connect. Think of it as your fast lane to pervasive mobile device management.

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Sentry features highlight the power and simplicity of the Meraki cloud architecture that provides native integration between different product families. Typically such enrollment or onboarding processes require additional servers, appliances, or licences. Even if this is not needed, integration between the MDM and the network (often from different vendors) can be complex to configure. With Meraki, enrollment becomes a couple of clicks and a matter of moments to enable. Find out more by attending one of our focused webinars covering the Sentry features of Systems Manager in further detail.

 

Reviewing a great week at ISTE 2015

The Meraki team were once again at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia. ISTE has been a regular event on the marketing teams calendar of the marketing team’s calendar, with this year being no exception.

A beautiful booth, courtesy of the Meraki design team, formed the centerpiece of our presence at the show, and keeping it gleaming was a high priority. All hands were on deck to polish and scrub the floor each morning, ready for the eager crowds.

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One of the great things about the Meraki cloud is the simplicity with which IT administrators can manage multiple platforms. From MDM to WLAN, LAN, and WAN, the Meraki full stack of products provides unique benefits such as those seen with Systems Manager Sentry. To celebrate this, attendees to the Meraki booth could receive a custom #fullstack t-shirt by participating in a one-on-one demo of the products.

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One of the customers to visit the booth was the team from the Upper Township School District in New Jersey. It was great to hear about their experiences operating a Meraki network, and their continued expansion of their deployment. Glen Stewart, Director of IT, spared a few minutes to talk about why the district chose Meraki, how they evaluated different vendors, and the testing of high density WiFi in classrooms.

If you missed the Meraki team at ISTE, don’t despair, you can join one of our regular webinars on a wide variety of topics. These include high level introductions to Meraki, product specific sessions, and customer testimonials. Bryan Independent School District joins us on Thursday to discuss how easy it is to deploy and manage Meraki APs, switches, and security appliances in support of 16,000 students. Sign up to attend here, or if you missed the live event, you can watch the recording here.

Do you have the Meraki #fullstack? If you do, why not share your story with us on Twitter @Meraki, we would love to hear from you.

 

Launching Systems Manager Sentry

Simple. Secure. Sentry.

To allow IT to be capable of meeting the varied and often conflicting demands of users and security, we have developed Systems Manager Sentry. Sentry brings together the mass of data available in a Cisco Meraki IT infrastructure, to provide context aware automatic security. Hear more about the headline features in Sentry in the following podcast with June Odongo (Product Manager for Systems Manager) and George Bentinck (Solutions Architect).

 

Let’s for a minute stop to think about the importance of context. Imagine an iPhone that belongs to the VP of operations for a high street retailer. This VP of operations needs to check inventory levels on a company server to make sure they get their manufacturing orders placed on time.

One evening an iPhone accesses the server over a VPN and looks at the stock levels. 
 

Should anyone be concerned by this? The answer is you don’t know without context. Let’s look at the same situation again.

One evening the VP’s iPhone accesses the server over a VPN and looks at the stock levels. The iPhone is no longer in Paris where the VP lives, it is in Bulgaria and the time there is 3:39AM. 
 

With context can come automation, and with automation comes an agile, simple, and secure IT world. The IT team no longer needs to be alerted by a user that their device needs sensitive information removed due to it being lost or stolen. Dynamic policies can look at device specifics and using the context available, such as the current owner of the device and the location, it can act automatically.

In the past it was difficult to collect, store, and then find information, but today it is trivial to access data on almost anything; from the latest weather to the morning news, or your friend’s location to what restaurant to go to. The challenge now is taking this overwhelming wealth of data, and making sense of it all.

Sentry is unique in the EMM market for being a complete solution for enabling the secure dynamic network of the future. This gives the IT team time to work with the organisation on defining policies, not being tied up with configuration. Device on-boarding, settings assignment, application management, and network access, are just some IT responsibilities that can be simplified, automated, and dynamically updated with Sentry.

Cisco Meraki Systems Manager is a best in class Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution founded on Meraki’s pioneering cloud architecture. We understand the IT challenges faced by technology users in enterprises, education, or government based on our extensive experience of next generation cloud deployments.

Contact your Cisco Meraki representative today to find out how Systems Manager Sentry can provide automation to your IT world, and simplify your security. Alternatively sign up to a specialist Sentry webinar here or watch a recorded version of the webinar below.

 

Limited Access Roles for Systems Manager

With Meraki Systems Manager, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution, very powerful controls are placed into the hands of IT administrators. With great power, comes great responsibility; it may not be desirable to have every administrator in your organization capable of wiping the CEO’s iPad!

This is why we have introduced the new limited access roles feature in the Meraki dashboard. It allows organizations to easily choose what devices an administrative user has access to, but most interestingly, this selection of devices can change dynamically based on parameters such as time and identity. For example, teachers can only be given responsibility for devices during the time of their class, or enterprise helpdesk staff can only manage devices in their Active Directory group.

Limited access roles can be found in the Meraki dashboard under Configure > General

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The example above is based on a retail environment where helpdesk staff only have access to the devices they are responsible for, with three roles for each of the helpdesk teams. These are:

  • A specialist team with knowledge of the Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system running on mobile handhelds
  • A generalist team responsible for the customer facing kiosks’ tablets
  • An emergency out of hours team able to help with anything

Tags are used to select the devices managed by each role, with both static and dynamic tags being used in our example. The grey tags represent static tags that have been applied to the device based on its role, while the green tags represent dynamic tags which can change. For these roles, time is being used as the dynamic tag corresponding to the stores operational hours.

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With the times and roles defined, the user George has been given the ‘Shop floor EPOS help desk’ role. If George was part of another team and needed a different role, this can be selected from the drop–down.

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Limited access roles help ensure privacy, protect against operator error, and simplify management of devices in the Meraki dashboard. This functionality has widespread applicability, while also being a core feature in education, where it is part of our Teacher’s Assistant functionality. Further information on this can be found in our previous blog post here.

 

One Systems Manager to rule them all

Some information in this post has changed.
More about Systems Manager licensing is available here.

Today we are excited to announce a new product structure for Systems Manager (SM). We are streamlining Systems Manager from two products to a single product that will now include all advanced features. SM Standard (free) and SM Enterprise (paid) will become just Systems Manager.

Importantly, nothing will change for existing SM Standard users unless they want it to.

What does this mean?

On March 24th, every new Systems Manager customer will be able to access features that were previously available only with SM Enterprise. Systems Manager, complete with all Enterprise features, is free for up to 100 devices, and as was previously the case with SM Standard, support is available through the Systems Manager Support Community.

For existing SM Standard (free) customers, nothing will change, and users can continue to operate Systems Manager exactly as they have before.  They will even be able to continue to enroll an unlimited number of devices free of charge.

For customers wishing to expand their new Systems Manager deployment beyond the 100 free devices, or to obtain 24/7 enterprise class phone support, then they can purchase the required number of device licenses.

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As an existing SM Standard customer, what if I want to upgrade?

As of March 24th, if a customers has less than 100 devices, they can convert their SM Standard to the new fully featured Systems Manager at no cost. However, we know that many of these customers could have more than 100 devices, would like access to advanced features, and have enterprise support.

To enable these existing loyal users to take advantage of these benefits, we will offer a steep discount for those upgrading from SM Standard. This one time promotional offer is running until June 2015, and brings an unheard of discount to Systems Manager, which is already one of the most competitively priced and feature rich MDM offerings on the market.

What if I have questions?

  • Further information will be released on our blog in the coming days and weeks. Make sure to subscribe to get instant notifications when updates are released.
  • Read the FAQ to find answers to common questions.
  • Register here to attend one of three scheduled Q&A webinars next week.
  • Contact your Meraki sales representative. If you are not sure who your representative is, use the regional contact details listed here to be connected to someone who can help.

There is now one simple decision to make when choosing at Systems Manager, and that is how many licenses you need, or if you need any at all.

Another exciting year at the BETT education trade show in London

It’s been a busy start to the year for the team at Meraki, with new product launches such as the MX64 Security Appliance, and numerous events such as Cisco Live! Milan and the BETT Show packed into just a few weeks.

Once again, the BETT show again proved to be a great kick-off to the year due to the large number of people attending and the shear size of the event. This year the design team took things to another level, with an elegant and clean stand that stood out from the crowd, nicely reflecting the Meraki products’ sleek appearance and management simplicity.

As we have come to expect from the largest education trade show in Europe, iPad management and MDM was a hot topic  at BETT with many visitors to the stand wanting to know more about Meraki Systems Manager. With a wealth of new features added since our last visit to the home of BETT at the Excel centre, it was great to be able to offer even better and easier ways of addressing the needs of schools and educators. A primary example of this is the addition of Apple Device Enrollment Program (DEP) support and dynamic policy application. If you want to find out more then make sure you visit meraki.cisco.com/sm and try it for yourself for free.

One of the great things about BETT is meeting existing Meraki customers, especially those who we met the previous year as prospective customers and have since deployed. In particular it was fantastic to catch up with members of the team from York College. York College was an early adopter of Meraki technology, one of the first higher education customers in the UK. Listening to them about their experience over the last three years was a real pleasure. Hear for yourself in the video below.

You may have noticed that the video is a little dark in the interview with York College. Unfortunately, that afternoon there was a total power outage at the Excel center lasting over 10 minutes. For the exhibitors with racks of equipment, servers and appliances running their demonstrations, it was one of those nightmare scenarios. Once again this highlighted the benefits of cloud infrastructure with the Meraki devices coming back online within minutes of the power returning.

Away from the stand, we teamed up with long term UK partner Softcat in the Schools Learn Live Secondary theatre. Here Meraki Technical Evangelist Simon Tompson provided an overview of the unique Meraki dashboard, before handing over to Steve Nesbitt from The Beacon School and Lee Sands from the King Edward VI College. Steve and Lee provided  detailed insight into their infrastructure by giving a live demonstration of their respective school’s production networks to a packed theater. Listen to Steve’s segment in the video below.

If you’d like to come meet the Meraki team then please subscribe to the blog, if you haven’t already done so. This way you will find out about upcoming events so you can come and see us when we are next in your part of the world.