The rise of Microsoft Office 365 (as a cloud service) has been nothing short of meteoric. It launched in 2011 and the 3 years between 2015 to 2018 saw the number of active users more than double, from 60 million to over 150 million.¹ To put that into perspective, the estimated number of active users for Uber in 2018 was 100 million.²
Today one in five corporate employees globally uses at least one Office 365 cloud application.³ With such widespread adoption of a business-critical cloud service, organizations are closely scrutinizing the performance of SaaS applications, such as Office 365, resulting in nervous ‘gulps’ from IT teams around the world.
Advice from Microsoft themselves to optimize Office 365 recommends to not backhaul traffic through a datacenter or HQ but instead allow it direct internet access. That’s sensible advice on the surface, i.e. don’t let the journey through a DC/HQ add latency in particular to your Office 365 apps. However, out of the window (pardon the pun) goes the visibility and security traditionally provided by backhauling traffic.
Help is at hand though…
The Cisco Meraki MX security and SD-WAN appliance seamlessly delivers some of the most powerful industry-leading security technologies (AMP, threat grid, SNORT) directly to the branch. The MX’s security capabilities are continually informed by Cisco’s Talos organization – an elite team of 250 of the world’s most sought-after security researchers analyzing billions of security signatures and postures everyday and delivering their findings back into millions of MX appliances with zero touch.
So… security, comprehensive check. What about visibility?
Visibility over the public internet
In general, there are three main phases a web application like Office 365 will need to successfully negotiate when a request is initiated by a client: LAN, WAN, and application server.
When sending Office 365 traffic over a public internet link you might feel like you’re crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, as you’re effectively blind beyond your own LAN. However, with Meraki Insight you can take out the nervous guesswork by tracking the performance of critical web applications such as Office 365 travelling via a direct internet breakout or VPN tunnels against network-admin defined thresholds. Meraki Insight analyzes WAN traffic and server response times for web applications to build a simple view of the health of the application across the LAN, WAN, and application server.
At-a-glance health of Office 365
Should the performance of Office 365 drop below its defined performance threshold, Meraki Insight will elegantly summarize its vast telemetry collected into an ‘X’ or ‘check mark’ across the LAN, WAN, and server to pinpoint where the degradation lies.
Instantly pinpoint the cause of performance issues
Stay Alert – NEW Meraki Insight now also has an option to send an email alert when a tracked application like Office 365 has fallen below its performance thresholds.
Automated email alerts when poor application performance is detected
Best-in-class security at the branch to allow Office 365 direct internet access
Visibility into Office 365 beyond the LAN to pinpoint causes of performance issues
Automated email alerts if performance falls below preset thresholds
Maintain peak Office 365 performance and security with one simple appliance
Delivering powerful industry-leading security and advanced visibility into web applications, such as Office 365, is achieved using only one device: the Meraki MX security & SD-WAN appliance. The MX is already established as one of the go-to appliances for security & SD-WAN, and with the addition of a Meraki Insight license can also track the health of web applications such as Office 365, all in a single appliance. Test for yourself how easy it is to optimize Office 365 using the Meraki MX appliance for free.
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.
Last month we announced the latest addition to our portfolio of easy-to-manage IT products, Meraki Insight. This advanced new troubleshooting tool will be of interest to any organization working across a wide area network, whether they’re connecting sites together or accessing resources in a remote data center. With more and more IT services migrating from on-site servers to virtual machines running in private or public clouds, it’s never been more important to be able to quickly and easily troubleshoot the WAN and application server performance.
Meraki Insight combines the deep packet inspection capabilities inherent to our MX platform with a robust, mature cloud-hosted architecture to analyze WAN traffic and server response times. By inspecting both the network and application layers, a picture soon emerges, enabling network administrators to quickly identify potential performance bottlenecks that may be leading to a diminished user experience. With IT support tickets being one of the most critical data points for measuring IT effectiveness, anything that helps to accelerate the closing of those tickets and even prevent them is welcome. A better network experience translates to happy users and customers who are more likely to return.
We’ve been delighted with the feedback we’ve received from early customers of Meraki Insight, and not just for the great user experience in the dashboard either. Real issues with real revenue implications are being resolved more quickly already, thanks to the capabilities unlocked by this new tool.
In one case, a well-known retailer with operations around the world was able to use Meraki Insight to rapidly identify and resolve a point-of-sale issue that was impeding sales during its busiest time of year: the holiday season. Another renowned storage company with over 1,500 locations was able to look at WAN performance data to help pinpoint a latency issue that was impacting business-related VoIP calls between branch sites.
Even if alerting isn’t being used to draw attention to an issue, one may be lurking. One of our Meraki partners was about to deliver a demo using their own company’s network when they stumbled across a custom application with a low performance score. All clues pointed to a network layer issue, and sure enough the app was experiencing packet loss severe enough to affect user experience. After a call to their ISP, a support team was dispatched to fix interference on the line.
Real world issues, impacting real business: these are the challenges Meraki Insight helps to address, thereby helping our customers increase revenue and reduce operational costs. For the first time the outstanding LAN troubleshooting tools that have helped build our success at Meraki are looking out to the WAN and the application servers we rely on every day. To gain better insight into issues that may be impacting your network and end-user experience, just click here to initiate a free trial.