Cisco Meraki provides organizations with the technology and platform for streamlining the security and management of their Internet-connected devices, WiFi networks, routers, switches, firewalls and other Meraki cloud services.
Meraki is famous for its centralized approach to security management and cutting down time and costs for deploying security configurations across networks – no matter where they are located in the country or abroad.
These are all possible through the Cisco Meraki Dashboard.
What Is the Cisco Meraki Dashboard?
The Meraki dashboard is a web browser-based tool that allows IT administrators to supervise hundreds of networks and devices effortlessly through the cloud, using only one device. The dashboard has a user-friendly interface and easy-to-understand navigation design, making it ideal for all organizations, including non-tech niches.
IT administrators can configure, monitor and manage networks through the Meraki dashboard. It is a complete, holistic IT infrastructure actively overseen by a dedicated product enablement team at the Cisco Meraki headquarters. Upon mastering its tools and features, businesses should be able to improve their day-to-day operations significantly.
How It Works: An Introduction to Cisco Meraki Dashboard
Before we begin, let’s clear some terminologies that will be used for the rest of this article:
- Administrator Account: Has full access to all organizations and networks
- Organization: A collection of networks that make up an entity, i.e., a company
- Network: Contains Meraki devices that comprise a specific functional system that makes up a network type (examples of network types include wireless, switch, gateway security appliances, camera or CCTV, combined networks and Enterprise Mobility Management or EMM)
Cisco Meraki devices make up a network; one or more networks make up an organization and an administrator account can have “full” or “read-only” access to networks and organizations.
- An account with full access to an organization will have full access to the networks within.
- An account may have read-only access to a network within an organization.
- An account may have read-only access to an organization but receive full access to one or more nested networks.
Keeping these terms in mind, let’s now discuss how the Meraki dashboard works.
Creating Accounts and Generating Meraki Dashboard Login for Administrators
Users must be registered as administrators and permitted to view the dashboard according to their rank or work responsibilities.
- Organization-level admins have access to their entire organizations and nested networks.
- Network-level admins can have limited or unlimited management control over individuals and devices. They don’t have access to organization-level information.
Who can create a Meraki dashboard login for a user? Organization-level administrators with full or read-only access can view the list of administrators in the organization. However, only organization-level admins with full management access can make any changes on the page – add an admin, delete an admin or change the access privileges of current admins.
Full-access organization admins only have to input a new administrator’s name and email address to generate their Meraki dashboard login credentials. Since it is so easy to set up administrator access, businesses and companies must observe SOPs and best practices in deciding who gets this level of control.
Senior IT technicians typically get full organizational access, while junior employees get full or read-only access to certain networks. Bear in mind that the organization admin has the highest level of control and should, therefore, be trustworthy and reliable.
Getting an Organization and Network Health Overview at a Glance
The homepage of the Meraki dashboard shows the Organization Summary at the top. It offers an overview of the overall health of the entire organization. If one or more networks have trouble, administrators will immediately know from the homepage.
The first section shows Device health information: summaries of online and offline devices in each network along with colored indicators (red for offline and green for online).
Below that is the Network section which shows a list of all networks with summarized data usage, clients, tags and other relevant information. Administrators can click on each network for a more detailed look at its status and other information.
As you navigate the other pages and tabs, you’ll also find easy-to-understand graphs showing network and device health across different parts of the network.
Another useful page that offers a quick look at network-wide health is the Topology page. It shows a visual diagram of how the networks within an organization are interconnected. If you hover over a network, it will show the real-time number of ports, clients and the current uplink speed of that network.
Conducting Network-Wide Data Review and Management
On the left side of the dashboard is the navigation bar or menu. Its tabs will take you to internal pages where users can find more in-depth data and status updates for every network and Meraki product in the organization.
Take a look at a screenshot of the Client page below. It shows a list of clients under a network in the organization. It provides a table with other information such as current active users, dates users last logged into the network, their current connection status (online or offline), data consumption, device type and more.
These pages, with extensive, detailed information about all products and devices within the network and organization, are valuable to technicians in charge of network administration. By providing real-time and historical data, the dashboard alerts administrators of potential problems and allows them to take preventive measures to prevent downtime and other bigger problems.
Simplifying Meraki Dashboard License Updates
All Meraki hardware and cloud services require licenses to be operational. Organizations can choose to buy 3, 5, 7 or 10-year licenses at a time and follow one of two licensing options:
- Per-device Licensing (PDL): Each device has its own license, so all devices have different expiration dates.
- Co-termination Licensing (Co-term): All devices in the network share one expiration date, which is the calculated average of all activated licenses registered in the dashboard.
Administrators with full access to the network or organization can take charge of Meraki dashboard license updates. They need to track license expiration dates (remember that in a PDL licensing format, administrators track the expiration dates of every piece of licensed Meraki hardware and software).
The good news is whether your licensing format is PDL or Co-term, keeping up with Meraki Dashboard license updates won’t take much time and effort. There’s no need to manually install software or the devices because the license activation is all done through the cloud.
Enabling Macro to Micro Network Management
One of the most impressive features of the Meraki dashboard is its ability to give administrators a macro and micro view of the entire organization. Administrators can go from a global view of the dashboard down to an entry point device in a building where you’ve set up an office overseas.
From the global view, administrators can be alerted to possible issues thanks to the color-coded status icons:
- Green – online and no alerts
- Yellow – online with one or more active alerts
- Red – offline and cannot be accessed by the dashboard
- Grey – offline and dormant (offline for at least one week)
The location icons from the global map represent an aggregate of networks located within a specific geographic area. Administrators can click on one node to zoom into a region and again to zoom into a city, a neighborhood, down to a building or individual device view.
Administrators can view individual access points to troubleshoot or review data from this micro view. Users can also upload office floor plans, which would specify the exact physical location of the access points and the devices connected to the network.
Clicking on any of these access points will show more individual data, such as the device’s IP address, channels, the switchboard they’re connected to and the clients connected to the access point. Moreover, admins can see how long onsite users were logged in, how much data they consumed, their devices, where they stayed in the office and even the apps and websites they used.
Indeed, administrators with full access to networks and organizations become privy to the smallest details of all devices and users registered in the Meraki Dashboard. The historical information and real-time access to all devices and clients provide valuable insights that allow IT teams and the management to:
- Find and de-escalate issues before they disrupt operations.
- Troubleshoot problems on the organization level, network level or in individual devices.
- Identify patterns and gather insights that can help improve productivity and output quality.
- Accurately predict bandwidth consumption.
- Identify the top applications used per department.
Thanks to the Meraki dashboard, businesses and companies can do more with the information at their fingertips.
Deploying Configurations Network-Wide or Organization-Wide
Besides monitoring and management, the Meraki dashboard is most helpful in deploying configurations throughout an entire network or organization in just a few clicks.
Remote, no-touch device configurations save organizations thousands of dollars every year. There’s no need for IT technicians to go to an office location to install security protocols, troubleshoot or configure operational and security settings. Everything can be done on the cloud through the dashboard.
Here are examples of remote deployments admins can do:
- Activate firewall protocols across networks and organizations.
- Implement security access protocols for company-issued devices (i.e., laptops, tablets, desktop computers).
- Restrict applications or websites according to SSIDs or user groups.
- Restrict access to applications or websites to specific individuals.
- Give access to BYOD (bring your own device) employees.
- Troubleshoot devices and network issues, whether they are onsite or offsite.
- Remotely delete sensitive information saved in a stolen or lost company device.
Utilize Cisco Meraki Dashboard To Increase Your Business Potential
All businesses today use the cloud and Internet networks in some form or another, whether in running their day-to-day operations or fulfilling service requests and client orders. As such, it is crucial to have a robust IT infrastructure that’s easy to manage and configure according to your business needs.
Our specialists at Stratus Information Systems will be happy to tell you more about Cisco Meraki, its dashboard and how your business can benefit from them.
Contact us today to request a demo and free trial of the Cisco Meraki dashboard.