Cisco says its expanded Meraki cloud-based network management platform will manage more than just wireless infrastructure, making it more suitable for large enterprises and allowing them to easily operate on-premise and cloud networks.
Meraki was purchased by Cisco for $1.2 billion (£1bn) in 2012 and its platform has traditionally dealt with the remote management of wireless networks for mid-market businesses. However it can now manage wireless and wired infrastructure and protect both with integrated security, it was revealed at Cisco Live 2015 in Milan.
Other new features include support for 802.11ac, mobile device management capabilities and Bluetooth beacons that can pinpoint the location of devices connected to the network within a few square metres.
This location capability allows administrators to see what applications are used most in certain parts of the network. This, Cisco says, provides opportunities for industries like retail, which will be able to see what parts of the store customers are visiting, and the airline industry, which will be able to track down missing passengers, reducing the cost and inconvenience of being stuck on a runway.
However the company claims the biggest advantage for large business is the creation of a “consistent” experience across wired and wireless networks, using a single policy, which reduces potential weaknesses and ensures business spend less time deploying and fixing infrastructure.
According to Gordon Thomson, managing director of enterprise networks, this means firms can reallocate resources towards innovation, allowing bigger companies to become more agile and react to trends quicker. Another advantage of this converged network approach is the ability for firms with significant local resources to easily manage on-premise and remote infrastructure using the same policies.
“The blueprint we’ve used over the past 20 years or so for networks can’t be used for the next 20 years,” he said. “Fundamentally, we have to reduce that complexity.
“This is not just for SMBs. This is for all size of enterprise customers.
“Cisco has an advantage over any security vendor. The days of putting a wall around things are gone. You build your defences not by a wall but buy layers. Cisco is the only vendor to build network security in the network.”
“Today is really the first time we’re announcing Meraki as an enterprise solution,” added Todd Nightingale, head of Cisco Meraki, adding that that Cisco wanted the platform to be viewed as a global service.
To this end, Cisco will allow European customers to store their data in data centres located in the UK and Germany to benefit from data sovereignty laws and be confident that their information is secure in a post-Snowden era.
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