The fine people at Cisco Meraki are always looking for even better ways to help customers as they configure and manage their IT environments. Offering 24/7 phone support and giving guidance is merely one of the many avenues used to help create the best experience possible for users around the globe. Below are two videos the Meraki support team created to show how to most effectively manage one-to-one and Shared iPad deployments with Systems Manager–just in time for the holiday break here in the U.S.
The first video is a breakdown of setting up Shared iPad in six simple steps. This includes all the configuration needed in the Meraki dashboard using Systems Manager as well as configuration for Apple School Manager at school.apple.com. Shared iPad provides a way to manage iPads in the classroom where they can be shared with multiple students. Students can log into an iPad from a cart or classroom for a personalized experience, and the student’s work (data) gets saved back to their account.
For more information about Apple School Manager, check out the Apple help article here.
Up next is a video which similarly shows how to configure an iPad for use in the classroom, but focuses on a one-to-one environment. ‘One-to-one’ is used to describe a program where there is one computer, or in this case iPad, per student.
Meraki customers are encouraged to give real time feedback by submitting a wish at the bottom of any page in the Meraki dashboard. This feedback, called ‘Make a Wish’, is one of the many tools Meraki uses to keep in touch with current customer needs. See below for an example.
The first few weeks at a new job can be intimidating, to say the least. You’re in a new environment, interacting with new people, and often times in a new city altogether. On top of that, if you’re on the Technical Support team, you’re working with completely new products as well. Not only are you faced with the question of “What do these products do?”, but also, “What do you do when these products don’t do what they’re supposed to do?!”
For the bright-eyed new hires of the Meraki Technical Support team, technical training is their introductory course on becoming an all-things-Meraki expert. Technical training for new Network Support Engineers is a two-week process, led by trainer Zakariya Alcodray. The first week is designed to get new hires as much hands-on experience with the products as possible. Imagine learning and engaging with all things security, switching, wireless, EMM, and communications for the first time, in just two weeks! The first few days cover product demonstrations and hands-on labs (ending with a break and fix lab, designed to provide first-hand troubleshooting experience). The second half of the week consists of one-on-one case management training, where new hires begin handling their first email cases. During the second week, each individual moves at his or her own pace while transitioning from email cases to live phone cases. By the end of that Friday, every new hire will handle one phone case on his or her own.
Zak began leading these training sessions in November of 2015, and since then has tailored the training to focus on learning to provide Meraki-grade customer support by meeting five important goals:
Comfort navigating the Meraki dashboard
Utilization of the troubleshooting toolkit
Understanding of job process fundamentals
Soft skill development: communication, overcoming hurdles, professional development
Overall, new Support Merakians are provided with the tools and support needed to develop and improve their case management, interpersonal, and team building skills.
Below is an interview with the man himself, Zakariya Alcodray:
In your opinion, why is training so important?
Our support team is very diverse in terms of geographic and academic backgrounds, but we have achieved something very special here: no matter where we hail from, our support team consists of good-natured, hard-working individuals who treat each other like family, as opposed to merely coworkers. This creates a dynamic, collaborative environment, allowing us to provide world-class support to our customers. It is important that we maintain this standard, and our training program allows us to do so.
What are three pieces of advice you have for those just starting training?
Don’t expect to know everything right away. That’s what the team is there for
Be ready to think outside the box
Get a lot of sleep!
What is your favorite part about training?
As I sat through my own training last year, a sense of joy was building up inside of me over the course of the two weeks, unlike anything I had experienced before. The amount of knowledge presented was overwhelming; the proposed challenges I would face became increasingly daunting. Regardless, I couldn’t help looking past it because of how proud I was to be part of the Meraki team. I became Support’s technical trainer because I wanted to ensure that each new hire had the opportunity to feel the exact same way I did as they worked to become a member of the Meraki family. My favorite thing about training is being the person who welcomes Support’s new hires and prepares them for hard work and hard play.
The end goal of any site survey is to ensure the most optimal configuration of the wireless network for the given requirements. These requirements can differ from physical location to physical location and can even vary within different areas of a location. Often the requirements have to be balanced against each other to reach the most optimal outcome. The requirements can include:
Specific support for high density or real-time applications like voice
Location services and positioning
Minimization of interference with other networks or RF signals
Designers of wireless networks have a number of tools in their armory to meet these requirements. Some of the areas a designer can control are:
The location of the APs
The number of APs
The transmit power of the APs
The channel the APs use
Site Survey – a Designer’s Best Friend
Due to the nature of radio waves, it can often be hard to visualise how aspects of your design will work when viewed as a collection of numbers and PDF specifications. The physical environment also has a major impact on how you design the deployment and how the APs will work. Enter the site survey and fantastic site survey tools such as Ekahau’s Site Survey and Fluke Networks AirMagnet.
These applications and others like them, allow you to visualize your WLAN deployment before, during, and after its deployment. Invisible radio waves become easy to understand with colorful heatmaps. Site surveys can be divided into three types that are typically carried out in order; predictive, pre, and post site surveys.
Predictive surveys use floor plans, estimates of building materials, and advanced algorithms to predict how the wireless network will look. This is based on the number of APs, their location, and their configuration.
Pre-site surveys allow the wireless designer to accurately record the reality of the physical environment where the WLAN will be deployed. This can then be used to prove, or disprove the validity of the design that is often created by a predictive site survey. The pre-site survey is typically carried out by placing an access point of the model you wish to use, with the configuration you think is appropriate, in different locations in the building. At each location the wireless is surveyed by taking readings using the site survey software. This then uses the information to update its model of the design.
Finally a post-site survey repeats the measurements taken by the pre-site survey but this time with all the APs for the final deployment in place. This survey is used to prove the design is correct or help identify adjustments that need to be made.
Although it is not essential to carry out all types of site surveys, it is generally recommended that at a minimum, a pre-site survey is carried out for any location with more than a handful of APs.
Listen to Ryan, a support engineer in the Meraki San Francisco office talk about the importance of surveying for your WLAN.
To perform a site survey with an AP, desired settings are typically configured before, then moving it between the locations that are being surveyed. The AP is often attached to a tripod or other type of stand to simulate the physical position it would have when deployed e.g. wall mounted or ceiling mounted. To make the movement of the AP easier, it is not normally attached to AC power and is instead powered by a portable battery pack.
Before the introduction of the dedicated site survey mode on the Meraki APs, it was necessary to include an additional equipment beyond just power. The reason for this was that the self healing auto mesh functionality built into every Meraki AP would try and repair the AP’s connection to the LAN. It does this by scanning for other mesh APs to communicate with when it can’t see a gateway. When this happened, it meant that site survey tools were not able get a reading.
The new site survey mode allows network admins to turn an AP into a dedicated device for site surveys. When enabled the AP will broadcast an open SSID named “site_survey-” followed by its MAC address. The AP can then have the channels and transmit power set for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radios.
To access the site survey mode, wirelessly connect to the desired AP and enter ap.meraki.com into your web browser. Alternatively you can access the same page by entering the LAN IP address of the AP into your web browser.
This local management page on the AP is used for basic setup, troubleshooting, or for when a specific manual configuration is required. Choose the ‘Configure’ tab and enter the credentials requested by the login box. Once logged in, you can access the settings for the site survey mode.
Completing a site survey is often an essential step on the path to an efficient, high performance WLAN. Ensuring your deployment is right from the start can save many hours of troubleshooting and associated costs later on. The new Meraki site survey mode will help make this process simpler and easier for anyone going through this activity.
A good number of customers and prospects often wonder about the Cisco Meraki Support team and who exactly the people on the other side of the phones are. Here’s the rundown.
The Cisco Meraki Support team is:
Knowledgeable | All technical support engineers (TSEs) can troubleshoot on all of the Cisco Meraki product lines, so customers receive consistent, quality help.
Loved | The team consistently ranks 93% in Customer Satisfaction every quarter.
Effective | The team’s case volume grows about 8% per month, approximately growing 100% per year.
Expanding | New members appear on a monthly basis in the Support section of the Cisco SF headquarters.
Diverse | Languages spoken by varying members of team include Spanish, French, Japanese, and Cantonese.
International | Recent expansions of the team have moved TSEs to Australia and the UK, creating a robust team to staff our 24×7 telephone support.
The Support team is a close-knit group of friends that bonds at work over NBA Jam, breakdancing, playing various musical instruments, and beer and pizza; they also socialize outside of work with LAN parties, soccer, rock climbing, and beer and pizza.
Below, LAN partying it up:
Kyle, Technical Support Manager, on what makes the Cisco Meraki Support team so effective:
“We have an open approach and a collaborative knowledge base that is constantly evolving. Our team is cohesive and communication is super effective. We’re big on reciprocity and giving information back to the group – the passing of knowledge from one technical support engineer to the next is our bread and butter.”
Peter works out a complex issue with his team:
Kyle also recognizes that the entire team is highly driven:
“Our support team is comprised of problem solvers. Each TSE is going to dig deep to find the issue and find out why something isn’t working. Our team doesn’t just escalate the problem to a different person. When you call Cisco Meraki support, you’re not just going to get an average answer, you’ll get a real answer.”
In terms of what keeps the work interesting, Technical Support Manager Peter says, “Due to the flexibility of the cloud – as technology changes, so does the function of the same piece of hardware. One day is never the same as another and that keeps things interesting.”
Jorge and his team, clearly enjoying their day:
Jenna and Brittany, the Support Recruiting team, also keep things fun for Support by planning various social activities.
Support on a boat:
Support at the zoo:
Support taking a mid-afternoon break:
In terms of what kind of career path a support engineer can expect, Peter talks about growth at Cisco Meraki:
“I joined in the beginning of 2012 and we were a group of 9 people. Not a single one of them is still a support engineer – we’ve all moved on to other roles within Cisco Meraki, such as product specialist, sales engineer, and manager roles. Advancement is part of this job and your advancement is shaped by what you do well.”
Director of Technical Support Jeff (right) ensures his team members are constantly learning and growing.
Want to become part of this tight-knit crew? We’re hiring technical support engineers; apply at meraki.cisco.com/jobs.
We’ve got some great tools for managed services providers (MSPs) who offer Cisco Meraki’s wireless, switching, security appliance, and MDM as a service to their end customers. These tools address common MSP challenges around managing end customer networks, optimizing costs, transitioning customer networks to a hosted service quickly, and scaling those networks as needed.
Today, we’re excited to announce additional, new features for MSPs:
MSP Portal: A central location for staff to monitor all of their Cisco Meraki end customer networks over the web
Support ticketing: Create, monitor, and respond to support cases with Cisco Meraki staff
Custom branding: MSPs can brand the Cisco Meraki dashboard and summary reports to reinforce their brand message to end customers
These new features, combined with the built-in end-to-end visibility and control provided by Cisco Meraki’s cloud management platform, provide powerful ways for MSPs to keep their customer networks up-to-date and centrally managed.
The new MSP portal, built into the Cisco Meraki dashboard, gives MSPs a single location to evaluate end customers’ licensing compliance and networked devices.
Easily manage licensing compliance and end customer network devices using the MSP Portal.
From the MSP portal page, click into any of your managed customer networks and use Cisco Meraki’s Live Tools to remotely troubleshoot appliances; or use the dashboard to monitor users, devices, and application traffic, set groupbased policies, update licensing, and manage customers’ device inventory. You get end-to-end visibility of your customers’ networks from any Internet-accessible location—whether that’s at a NOC/SOC or your field offices.
Keeping track of support cases across multiple end customer networks can be daunting, but we simplify things with a central location to create, monitor, and respond to troubleshooting tickets alongside Cisco Meraki staff. Cases are organized so that sorting cases by end customer—even down to individual customer networks—is easy.
Sort troubleshooting tickets by priority, status, case number, date created, or support engineer.
With Cisco Meraki support ticketing, you can keep track of relevant emails, files, and case descriptions for a particular problem within a single ticket and prioritize cases based on severity.
As the networking provider and primary support for end customers, MSPs need the ability to reinforce their brand message when administrators access the network. As part of the MSP Dashboard, Cisco Meraki will work with our partners to put a custom logo on both the main dashboard and summary emails that are sent to end customers.
Reducing operational costs is a key challenge for MSPs, who must typically build out end customer network infrastructure, adjust for vendor licensing costs, and provide tech support for issues that arise. With Cisco Meraki, our cloud-hosted management infrastructure eliminates the need for MSPs to build out data centers or host wireless LAN controllers and similar infrastructure. Our simple licensing scheme, which includes all product tech support, maintenance, and feature updates, streamlines cost models. Finally, our intuitive, cloud-based dashboard allows engineers to remotely troubleshoot devices and reduces staff training hours.
It’s easy to quickly transition end customer networks to Cisco Meraki. All of our gear allows for zerotouch configuration, with no onsite IT staff needed for deployment. Adding network devices is as simple as entering an order number into the Cisco Meraki dashboard—there is no device limit, throughput limit, or backend configuration necessary. Our datacenters are designed from the ground up to scale your customers’ networks to millions of attached devices—and we have built-in redundancy across multiple geographies, all with a 99.99% uptime SLA.
If you’d like more details on these new MSP features—and additional benefits Cisco Meraki provides vis-à-vis managing end customer networks—please read our new MSP white paper.
Our support team works hard ensuring that our customers have a great experience when they contact us, but they also know how to have a good time. First Fridays of the month are Formal Friday, and they dress appropriately. Here are a few members of the team modeling their threads:
Now when you call support on Fridays, not only will you get the same great attention, you’ll be talking with someone on the other line that looks like a million bucks. And if you want to be part of this snazzy team, drop us a line.
Frequently when using my Meraki Dashboard account, I find that I’m interested in more information than is displayed by default on the Dashboard. This may be true for Access Points, Clients, or Logons. The “Display options” link on these pages is a little button with big value to help me learn more about my network.
Here is the link on the Access Points page:
Click on the link to discover the fields that you can display:
Add those fields that are most helpful to you and hide the fields that you don’t need. This way you can display the information that provides the most value to you while eliminating unnecessary clutter.
There are plenty of great ways to use this data to trouble shoot. For example, when there is a connectivity issue on a portion of a network, I add the Gateway field and sort the APs by gateway. Frequently I discover that the outage is associated with a single gateway… that tells me to look at the wired network and ISP service supporting that particular gateway. There are many other ways to sort these fields that can help you to better understand your network performance and behavior.
We hope this helps make your Dashboard experience even better. We’ll periodically share our favorite Dashboard features with you to help you make the most of the troubleshooting tools at your disposal.
Deploying the industry’s first cloud-based enterprise wireless LAN provides our customers with many unique and powerful benefits that can make IT administrators’ jobs easier. One particularly powerful and useful tool is the ability for Meraki support staff to help remotely troubleshoot and resolve any technical issues that arise when deploying and integrating Meraki wireless networks with existing wired networks. Leveraging the secure tunnel that is created between end devices and the Meraki Cloud Controller, Meraki can upon request assist you with basic diagnostics like checking if your firewall needs some tweaking for proper communication with your Meraki Cloud Controller. In addition to the basics, Meraki can also conduct an in depth traffic analysis to determine what type of communication is flowing through your wired uplink as well as your wireless client connections. This monitoring is captured in .pcap form for simple integration with popular network analysis tools such as Wireshark. Since all of this testing can be conducted at the Meraki HQ, it allows Meraki’s Support Organization and its partners to act as natural extensions of your own networking team. So if you’re struggling with a wireless issue and are still perplexed after searching the knowledge base, reach out to Meraki Support via Dashboard, our website or phone and save valuable time by leveraging these additional tools at your disposal.