The Ultimate Guide to Configuring Cisco Meraki

Young IT engineer inspecting network cable
April 27, 2022

Cisco Meraki’s dashboard for managing your entire end-to-end network infrastructure in one platform (from anywhere) is the solution you’ve been seeking. Meraki creates a variety of incredible products for companies of all sizes. Whether you’re with a global enterprise looking for a solution that can manage a massive network or a small business that needs a scalable option, Meraki devices are ideal.

Cisco Meraki’s configuration process is user-friendly but can be intimidating for new users. So, should you do it yourself? Or should you call in a professional? We’ll review, step-by-step, how to proceed with your dashboard configuration. Then you can decide whether you’re going to DIY the task or let Stratus Information Services take care of the heavy lifting.

What Is Cisco Meraki Used For?

Before we get into the Cisco Meraki configuration guide, let’s briefly discuss what Cisco Meraki products are used for. As a tech professional with a busy schedule, you recognize that the decision to invest in Meraki products comes with substantial benefits. These are top-of-the-line devices that can transform the way your company handles: 

Essentially, you can think of Meraki products as the unification of your network management system. They can control thousands of mobile and desktop devices through one ultra-convenient, secure dashboard. 

Can I Configure Cisco Meraki Products By Myself?

After receiving their shiny new hardware, most people start wondering how to configure their Cisco Meraki products. A common question that comes up is whether or not people can fly solo without expert help. 

The short answer is: Yes, you can, but you don’t have to.

For IT professionals, the process might be a breeze. For those that feel less equipped to take this project on, start by following our six-step guide, and if you get stuck, reach out to us here at Stratus Information Systems. Our team is on standby, ready to jump in and help you untangle the cords.

6 Steps for Setting Up Your Cisco Meraki Dashboard

As Cisco itself boasts, “There is a tremendous amount of flexibility with the initial setup for a Meraki deployment.” This is good news because “you can configure everything before you even have your devices, thanks to the Meraki cloud.”

Before you begin working your way through the setup, here are other topics you should thoroughly understand first:

Here are the six steps to set up your Cisco Meraki dashboard correctly. 

1. Gather Your Information for Pre-Setup

This is what you’ll need on hand for setting up your dashboard account, network, and devices:

  • An order number for your Meraki purchase OR the serial #s of your Meraki devices
  • A plan for how you will group your devices (as well as what you are going to do with them)
  • An internet uplink for your devices
  • A valid firewall with configured rules

2. Create a Meraki Dashboard Account

If you don’t already have an account, it’s time to create one. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to Meraki’s Dashboard Login.
  2. Click “Create an Account.” 
  3. Choose your Meraki dashboard and organization region. This can’t be changed, so make sure it’s correct!
  4. Enter in your:
    • Email address for login and communication
    • Full name that will be displayed on your account
    • Password that’s 8+ characters long and a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters
    • Company or organization name
    • Address for default network locations and maps (optional)
  5. Click “Create account.”
  6. Verify your account by checking your email and following the confirmation link.

Once you’re in and your dashboard is set up, you’ll have access to immense visibility and a wealth of features. This intuitive, interactive web interface lets you see reports that keep you updated on your devices’ health, network usage, client information, and more. 

Looking for an overview of your hardware and network features? How about the next steps in the setup process? Fire up your Meraki dashboard to access this information and much more. 

3. Create a Network

A device network should be created for each physical location:

  1. Log into your Meraki dashboard account.
  2. Click “Register Meraki devices” and “Next.”
  3. Input the following information:
    • Name to be used to identify the network
    • Network type
    • Devices (optional)
  4. Click “Create network.” 

4. Create a Systems Management Network

There’s a slightly different process for creating a systems manager network for endpoint management:

  1. Log into your Meraki dashboard account.
  2. Click “Set up Systems Manager.”
  3. Click “Next.”
  4. Name your network. Or, if there is a “Network type” drop-down menu, click “EMM (Systems Manager).”
  5. Review and click “Create network.” 

Once this step is complete, you’re able to configure the following endpoint management features:

  • Profiles
  • Payloads
  • Applications
  • Etc.

5. Add Devices

For the devices’ configuration to download, all devices must be added to a network:

  1. Log into your Meraki dashboard.
  2. Type in order numbers (one per line) next to the blue “Claim” button.
  3. Click “Claim.” 
  4. Click the checkbox next to any devices you want to be added to the network.
  5. Click “Add to.”
  6. Under “Existing network,” choose the network you created earlier.
  7. Click “Add to existing.”

For more information on configuring specific devices, check out these resources:

6. Add Licenses

If you ordered your Meraki device license separately, you might need to manually add it:

  1. Log into your Meraki dashboard.
  2. Click “Organization.”
  3. Click “Configure.”
  4. Click “License info.”
  5. Click “Add another license.”
  6. Click “License more devices” for the “Operation.”
  7. Enter the “License key.”
  8. Click “Add license.”
  9. Review the details for accuracy.
  10. Click “Add license.”

Congrats! Your Meraki network and devices are now ready for configuration.

3 Common Configuration Issues and How to Solve Them

Whether you’re an IT veteran or not, there is always room for potential technical difficulties in the Meraki configuration process. Here are three potential configuration issues you may run into and some tips on how to solve them. 

1. Misconfigured DNS

Because Meraki devices rely on DNS to repair dashboard URLs, if your device is reporting issues with its DNS configuration, it’s likely not receiving responses to DNS requests. 

Try these things to address this issue: 

  • Verify that the device’s static IP has been working, and make sure that the address is still valid.
  • Check for a typo or otherwise incorrect value when assigning the static IP.
  • Ensure the correct VLAN is used for DHCP. 

Lastly, you can try switching to DHCP. You would have received this error message only if the device found another working IP address. Once you switch the IP assignment to DHCP instead of static, the device will use the correct address, and the error will go away eventually.

2. Conflicting Uplink IP Address

If you’re getting an alert about a conflicting uplink IP address, another device in the network is using the same IP address as your Meraki hardware.

If this problem persists, try the following tips:

  • Make sure your devices all have unique IP addresses.
  • Check by opening the client’s page on your dashboard and finding the matching IP addresses.

3. Poorly Configured IP Assignment

Here are some quick troubleshooting tips to address this issue: 

  • Verify that the device’s static IP has been working, and make sure that the address is still valid.
  • Check for a typo or otherwise incorrect value when assigning the static IP.
  • Ensure the correct VLAN is used for DHCP. 

Get Expert Guidance

If you find setting up your Cisco Meraki Dashboard to be outside your comfort level, above or below your paygrade, or beyond the time you have to spare, no worries. 

Stratus Information Systems can give you the expert guidance you need to work through it yourself or do it completely for you. Check out our options for Cisco Meraki configurations, and make sure you get in touch if we can help.