Implemented Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst to manage switches via the Meraki dashboard
Allowed greater operational efficiency and faster failure response with centralized status visualization
Realized the benefits of cloud-based management where functions can be automatically updated while keeping up with the latest technologies such as AI
More than 10,000 employees and students on two campuses
Approximately 160 monitored devices to date
The Shibaura Institute of Technology is a private science and engineering university with two campuses located in Toyosu, Koto Ward, Tokyo and Fukasaku, Saitama City, Saitama. It is a science and engineering university where faculty members who are actively engaged in cutting-edge research related to a variety of fields, such as mechanical science, life science, and design contribute to society by creating a new world together with students who will take the lead in the future.
In addition to being named a “Top Global University, Japan” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, they have established an action plan called “Centennial SIT Action,” whereby they aim to become a top ten Institute of Technology in Asia by 2027, which will mark their 100th anniversary.
When the institute established its network infrastructure over 20 years ago, they selected Cisco Catalyst switches due to their low failure rate and high reliability. With the sudden demand for hybrid classrooms as a result of COVID-19, the institute needed to implement a cloud-managed solution compatible with Wi-Fi 6— and they looked no further than cloud-monitoring solutions from Cisco Meraki.
Deputy Director of the Division of Information Network Systems, Takahiro Wagatsuma, explained the reason why they decided to use Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst. “I first learned about Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst at an academic forum in June of 2022, just after it was released. Status visualization is an attractive feature for our institute since we operate the network ourselves. Since this cloud service does not require any additional costs, we decided to use it.”
Mr. Wagatsuma explained some of the challenges the institute had been facing. “Until now, real-time monitoring was used for switches, so when a failure occurred, all we could do was respond for each unit. The institute has campuses in Tokyo and Saitama, and each has staff for responding to such things, but our ability to respond was limited. Problems that occur during classes always require urgent responses since these are online. Because of our bring your own device (BYOD) policy, there are many terminals of various types used throughout the institute, so we face a number of unique issues when it comes to bandwidth, connection, and security.”
Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst is a feature that allows for comprehensive monitoring of Catalyst switches, along with Meraki devices, via the Meraki dashboard. To use this feature, a DNA license (Essentials or Advantage) is needed. However, since Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series switches include a DNA license when purchased, they can be used at no extra cost as long as the license is still valid.
“The institute was already using the Meraki dashboard to manage the Meraki MR wireless access points. Now, Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst allows us to monitor the whole network, including Catalyst switches. Because it’s a cloud-based service, we can monitor both campuses from anywhere. The conditions of traffic, apps, and terminals are visualized, so we can quickly identify where a problem has occurred, the cause, and range of impact, which means we can respond faster,” says Mr Wagatsuma.
Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst shows front panel information on the device details screen. It is also possible to reference the status, traffic volume, and settings for each port. Mr. Wagatsuma describes how “alerts can be understood at a glance, so we can notice even minor abnormalities, which couldn’t be seen before. We can check the details without having to use the command-line interface (CLI) for each port, which is really convenient. Cyclic redundancy check (CRC) errors and other errors related to communication between switches, such as inconsistent VLAN settings, can be recognized and handled before a failure occurs.”
The institute has gradually increased target devices for monitoring. Currently, around 160 Meraki MR access points and Catalyst switches are being monitored via Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst.
Because the Meraki dashboard is graphical and intuitive, it is very user friendly and has helped Mr. Wagatsuma’s team streamline operations. The dashboard also provides a new level of visibility to his team. “You can see the health score of each device, communication between devices, and even the status at each terminal, which means causes can easily be identified. Troubleshooting has also become much faster. Faculty members often say, ‘there was a problem with the Wi-Fi during this lecture yesterday.’ In the past, the only way to address such problems was to be present at the next lecture to monitor the status. But with Meraki, we can specify a past time zone that was recorded and see the status at that time.” Cloud Monitoring for Catalyst also allows the team to comprehensively grasp which terminal had an issue at that time, whether the cause was a switch or access point, and even determine whether the cause was interference with another channel or a setting configured on the terminal. At the institute, authentication is required in order to use Wi-Fi, so it is possible to monitor the status of each person’s terminal in real time.
Because we can easily identify the cause of a problem, we can give clear direction on how to handle it, which was difficult in the past.
Deputy Director, Division of Information Network Systems, Shibaura Institute of Technology
Mr. Wagatsuma concluded his expectations by stating the following about the Meraki cloud-based management solutions: “The support response with the Meraki dashboard is great. Whenever there is something I don’t understand and I raise a case, engineers from all over the world respond in about 15 minutes, which is extremely helpful. Another unique feature of cloud-based solutions is that they can continue to evolve after being deployed. For example, a roaming tracking function was just recently added. I expect further evolution with Meraki that will help us to reduce the workload that is being done manually, which will result in networks that can easily be used and operated by anyone.”