When speaking to other professionals in the information technology business, it seems everyone has the same problem. They are expected to do more with less. Be more productive with less time. Provide better computing environments with less of a budget. Service more employees with less staff. I’m sure everyone who has been in this situation can agree that it’s not a comforting position to be in and it causes a lot of extra stress.
Vendors have been hearing this for a long time and they have continuously developing solutions that attempt to reduce the load on the IT professional’s shoulders. One vendor that I personally think has nailed it is Meraki. Their cloud managed solutions are second to none in my opinion. They have a full suite of solutions that are all cloud managed making configuration, deployment, monitoring, and management an absolute pleasure.
Now, one aspect that is always a concern is security. Whenever I mention “cloud managed” I start to see some clients get a look on their face like they have a mouth full of sour candy. Let me assure you, Meraki is secure. They have their SSAE16 Type II audited datacenters certification, offer two-factor authentication, and have a highly available redundant architecture. Another thing that should be pointed out is that customer data is not sent to the cloud ONLY configuration data is in the cloud. For more information, please see the following link to see for yourself the measures and protocols Meraki has in place to secure the customer https://meraki.cisco.com/trust#overview
Once customers are able to put their minds at ease from a security standpoint, they can start to look at the many benefits that Meraki as to offer. The two technologies I’ll focus on quickly are the switches and access points. Meraki has many other products and offerings but I feel these two will really help IT professionals face off toe to toe with that “more for less” situation.
Meraki Access Points (AP’s) have both weather proof and indoor rated models with a wide variety of antenna selections. They can be configured with 1 touch guest network deployment and offer some serious data rates. They also have some built in tools that are absolutely amazing such as RF spectrum analyzers, air marshal, and location heat maps. You can configure SSID availability so that AP’s shut down at a given time or change their logon policies after a predefined time. You can configure customized splash pages easily and quickly. If you have hard to reach places from a cabling perspective, Meraki has a built-in mesh feature that is automatic and requires little to no configuration depending on your needs. All of the AP’s are cloud managed and can be done using simple to use templates. Simply adding an AP to a network will configure it like all the other AP’s in the same network. So, deployment of new AP’s to an existing network is as simple is entering the SN address, giving it a unique host name and plugging it in. The visibility you gain into the network is amazing. You can see traffic types, traffic sources, the amount of data consumed by specific clients. You can see some information on the end points that connect to it and even apply dynamic policies based on client devices or device types.
The Meraki switches come in models ranging from 8 ports to 48 ports. You can get layer 2 or layer 3 switches with redundant power supplies and stacking if desired. The POE switches support POE+ with up to 740W of power on the 48 port switches. Most of the switches come with 4 10GB SFP uplinks and some have 40Gb SFP uplinks. Meraki also has 16 and 32 port SFP 10Gb & 1Gb aggregation switches. Much like with the wireless you have first class visibility into the environment. When you couple the switches with the AP’s then you really start to see the power. Meraki can provide you a complete network diagram of Meraki devices and easily show you key links such as uplinks to other switches and AP’s. Much like the AP’s, I think a lot of the power of Meraki solution is in the tools and information they can provide. I can see what type of device is plugged in, I can see power draws, I can configure bandwidth and QOS polices quickly and effectively based on device type or port. There is a built-in cable testing feature so we can confirm if there is an issue with a cable. The cable tester alone has personally saved me a ton of time. After a new cabling job, I was able to easily identify where another contractor had reversed a couple pins and the Meraki switch was able to pick up on it right away. Think about how powerful that is. No more praying that the patch panel and jack are labeled correctly then going and plugging into each end of the cable to test. I can run a cable test in a couple seconds right from the comfort of my chair with minimal interruption to me and the end user. Just like the AP’s, the analytical data that you can pull out of the switches is insane. Days, weeks, months of data such as traffic statics and client connections are all stored. No need to setup additional monitoring or syslog servers. It’s all built in and included.
So, if you are one of the IT professionals that is tasked to do more with less, then I would highly recommend you look at Meraki. I would be more than happy to give you a walk through the dashboard and explain the many more benefits of the Meraki solution. Give us a call today at 315-338-0388!