Cloud-Managed IT: The Demystification of Cisco Meraki
I often find when you say “cloud” to a customer they get a reluctant look on their face, and I wonder to myself, ”Is it the mystery about the cloud that concerns them? Maybe the idea of things being sent off to a far away place known as ‘The Cloud’ makes them leery of embracing a technology that can do so much for them.” Let’s be honest. In relation to networking as a whole it is a very new idea.
Often I have to address common misconceptions about our own cloud-managed IT solution, Cisco Meraki. They do see the value of cloud-managed IT such as Instant IT, full business visibility, on-demand scalability and lower IT costs. They just sometimes have the wrong perception of the Cisco Meraki solution! I thought I would take a moment and address some of the more common misconceptions.
Misconception #1: Cisco Meraki is Only Wi-Fi and for Small to Medium or Commercial Customers
False. Although it is true that Meraki started out as delivering cloud-managed Wi-Fi they have grown to bring to market switching, routing, security and even mobile device management, all managed and monitored from the cloud. This means that our customers can deploy a comprehensive infrastructure, threat and mobile management solution. And they can deploy it whether they are managing a few sites or thousands of sites. In the US, Motel 6 supports over 1,100 locations with Meraki. We see customers like Infopark deliver and support wireless, switching and security capabilities for over 600 customers with less than 30 minutes per month put into managing the infrastructure.
Misconception #2: Cisco Meraki is Only for US Customers
False. In the last year Cisco Meraki has grown 108% to reach more than 57,000 customers who have deployed over 200,000 networks in over 147 countries, and we are continuing to grow across the globe. We have customers like Hafen Hamburg & Empire Riverside Hotel in Germany and Forever New in Australia who have adopted the Cisco Meraki solution.
Misconception #3: Cisco Meraki does not work with the traditional Cisco Architecture.
False. In over the last two years we have worked to deliver interoperability and integration between the Cisco Meraki solution and the on-premise solution. Now customers can strategically deploy the right solution in the network area based on needs. Penn Mutual deploys the traditional Cisco architecture in their corporate headquarters and Cisco Meraki at their branches, effectively reducing operating costs by 40%. A few integration points that come to mind:
- Identify and inventory Cisco Meraki devices in Cisco Prime Infrastructure, with the ability to cross-launch the Cisco Meraki dashboard to configure or troubleshoot the cloud-managed devices.
- Having Cisco Meraki devices leverage the policies defined in Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to drive consistency across on-premise and cloud-managed devices.
- Cisco Meraki Systems Manager can also work in coordination with Cisco ISE, letting ISE on-board devices by enabling secure network access based on user identity, access controls and policy compliance and managing the devices with the enterprise mobility management capabilities found in Cisco Meraki Systems Manager.
- There are also plans to include Cisco Meraki in our Application Centric Infrastructure strategy to simplify, optimize and accelerate application deployment across both on-premise and cloud-managed infrastructures.
In addition to functional interoperability, we offer seamless handoff between Cisco SMARTnet and Meraki Support, which helps streamline customer problem remediation.
Misconception #4: All My Company’s Data Will Go Into the Cloud Where it is NOT Secure or If you lose Connectivity to the Cloud Your Network Fails.
False. Communication between your network and the Cisco Meraki cloud is for management and configuration data only. So if your connection to the cloud is interrupted, the network continues to function and end users won’t notice a difference. All of the features that affect data flow continue uninterrupted. As an example, users can authenticate and stay authenticated, firewalls continue to enforce policy and even VPN tunnels continue to operate. But maybe most importantly, performance remains at 100% and network data gets to where it needs to go. As a matter of fact, the Cisco Meraki solution offers a low risk cloud solution, so for those customers who are leery about cloud technology Cisco Meraki is often an easy entry point into cloud technologies.
I hope I have been able to set straight some misconceptions around the Cisco Meraki solution, but there is one truth that has never been misconstrued about the Cisco Meraki solution: it is easy to use and delivers a highly effective cloud-managed IT operational model.
In fact, we are introducing an exciting way for you to experience the Cisco Meraki solution with the Cisco Meraki Cloud-Managed Challenge. You can win some prizes while learning how easy comprehensive, global IT management can be. Click here to take the challenge.
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