Here at PCH Technologies, we understand that cloud computing is the future. Just as the internet brought the world together more closely, the cloud promises to do even more. Cloud computing is the next step toward a future in which perfect communication can exist between all parts of the world at all times. As such, no business can afford to be left behind by this advancement.
Because we provide a large variety of cloud and general IT services, PCH has a need to ensure top quality for all of our customers. That’s why our cloud-based services are based on the Cisco Meraki network. By using this general framework to construct your IT system, we can ensure great control, maximum stability, and optimal convenience.
What Is Cisco Meraki?
Cisco Meraki is a company that created (and which maintains) an extensive cloud computing network. They often partner with respected IT firms like PCH to provide custom-tailored cloud solutions to clients. Of course, you don’t get their endorsement without earning it, and that’s one of the many ways by which you can tell how good our people are.
Originally called Meraki, this company grew out of a project called Roofnet. This was a computer science project which was designed to bring wireless internet to the city of Cambridge. They solved a number of problems in order to accomplish this goal, mostly by using the unique properties of radio waves to augment the main signals.
From there, the company was involved in a project to bring free internet service to the residents of San Francisco. They distributed a number of gateway devices as access points to their free network. This experiment grew to about 100,000 people before eventually being discontinued.
After being acquired by Cisco Systems in 2012 (for about 1.2 billion dollars), the company rebranded as Cisco Meraki. Since then, they have specialized in cloud computing services, and are considered to be one of the most respected names in their field.
How Secure Is Meraki Cloud Computing?
Of course, some people choose to limit their use of cloud technology because of security concerns. Some people feel that it’s less secure than a normal internet connection. However, this is usually not the case. A normal internet connection tends to be wide open unless someone takes the trouble to harden the system in various ways. A cloud system, by contrast, is going to be managed at all times, which includes security monitoring.
In order to have true internet security, you really do need constant monitoring. Oh, but you think you might want to do all that yourself? Ok, sure…we’ll give you an idea of how that can be done. You can use a program called Nmap. It is free, and not that hard to use. This program monitors all connections on your network and tells you exactly how long they have been connected. Using this, you can easily see a map of your network connections and disconnect anything that looks suspicious. But you aren’t done there!
You’ll also need to download a program called Wireshark, which will monitor all the information that flows over the network. An internet connection is always exchanging information (in the form of “packets”) with other computers. Wireshark allows you to monitor those packets in real-time. This one requires a little more know-how but is still pretty basic. But here’s the catch: Now, you will have to watch these two programs on a constant basis. That means hiring people to watch those monitors all day, and trusting that they will do a good job. In the end, you are better off to farm this task out to a company that will handle all that network monitoring for you.
In addition to this, Cisco Meraki offers a number of other high-security options, including VPN tunnels and firewalls. We aren’t telling you to throw out your antivirus software, but the Meraki dashboard can definitely handle some of the security load. Firewall and virus definitions are improved with each update, so it will be very unlikely that someone could circumvent these protections.
Advantages Of Cisco Meraki Cloud Computing
There are many good reasons for which we chose Cisco Meraki as our primary provider of cloud infrastructure. They offer a great package deal that is reliable, secure, and well-proven in every way.
Cisco Meraki Offers Total Control And Interactivity
This particular network offers one important feature that is found nowhere else. Cisco Meraki’s unique out-of-band architecture provides you with the ability to manage all devices connected to your network. This allows a level of network control that most can barely imagine. In turn, this leads to greater efficiency and greater profit.
For those who are worried about unauthorized access, this one is a dream come true. If you do find an illegitimate device connected to your network, you can immediately take control of that device. This will allow you to not only guard your network, but it will (quite possibly) allow your IT people to identify the intruding device and/or its user.
Of course, it’s not all about security. Convenience and efficiency are just as important (and more so, in some cases). This kind of network allows for much better coordination between different teams of employees. There are many instances in which people need to work together without being physically present in the same room. It makes no sense to travel for meetings anymore since everything can be accomplished over the web.
During an online meeting, technical problems can really mess up your plans. Just imagine this: Your company’s employees are meeting to address an urgent problem that threatens their ability to meet their deadlines. If the network fails to work reliably, the problem will not be addressed, and the deadline is unlikely to be met. This is just one example of how IT problems can translate into real-world losses.
Key benefits of a managed cloud network:
- Easy to get up and running quickly
- Managed by a third-party with all the expertise you need (removing the burden on your business)
- Reduction in costs with no controller hardware or management software to install and maintain
- Reduction in support costs (provided by vendor)
- Isolate and fix issues in minutes with remote troubleshooting tools
- Allows for massive scalability, giving you access to virtually unlimited resources and on-demand expansion
- Designed with mobile-working and modern devices in mind
- Benefit from regular firmware and security updates
- Resources such as servers and applications can be scaled up or down on demand.
Meraki Has An Easy-To-Use Dashboard Interface
To control all of this, you just use the Meraki dashboard, which is very convenient and easy to use. It allows you to control everything that needs to be controlled from a single interface. This dashboard can be used to control a worldwide network by managing devices and interactions across all connections. You can control everything from access points to security to signal routing and all other aspects of your IT network.
This dashboard can replace the two security programs that we mentioned above, because it can monitor packet exchange just like Wireshark, and can also provide a detailed network map like Nmap. You can also control various levels of encryption (VPN setup) and control the level of access that each device will have. You can also use this dashboard for general communication purposes. You can send out alerts to all connected devices, making it much easier to keep everyone informed about policy updates and any changes in plans that may occur.
One of our favorite options in the Meraki dashboard is the “topology” feature. When you click on this, it will give you a detailed diagram of your network and what it’s doing at that moment. It will show all the access points and whether or not they are being used, and any switches to which they might be connected. We also love the “summary” button, as it provides a set of up-to-date business metrics that are very helpful indeed. We will discuss those in more detail below.
Easier To Correct Mistakes
Another great benefit that comes from the use of Meraki cloud computing is the fact that you can avoid and correct mistakes more easily. In the past, communication was slow. Thus, it was very hard to change your plans once they were put into motion. So, for instance, let’s say you are manufacturing a product. At some point, you find a flaw in the design that needs to be corrected. Since the design has already been sent to the manufacturing facilities, you would normally have a problem.
However, an efficient cloud system can eliminate this problem. As long as the person in charge of the manufacturing facility is diligent in checking their alerts, they should be informed before any production has actually begun. In this way, expensive recalls and remanufacturing costs can be avoided before they even become an issue.
Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world. Thus, there is always the chance that a mistake will happen regardless of your alert. Even if this should be the case, a more efficient communication network will ensure that the problem is brought to your attention as soon as possible, and it will be much harder for anyone to hide their mistakes! The results of that mistake will be right there on the network for all connected users to see, and so there will be no doubt as to what went wrong.
Less Work For Your IT Staff
Just about every company has an IT staff, even if many of the services are outsourced to various companies like PCH. Some companies find this to be more cost-effective while others choose to outsource all their IT needs. Either way, use of the Meraki cloud will make sure that your IT staff doesn’t get bogged down with pointless busywork.
By incorporating cloud services into your business plans, you can free up crucial staff members for more important projects. The menial day-to-day tasks of managing an extensive network will be handled by those who are best-equipped to do so, while your in-house staff can focus on the things that really matter to you. Instead of using up all their time on maintenance tasks, your IT workers (and other employees, too) will be able to focus on the advancement of the business and the fulfilling of its financial goals.
Good record-keeping is essential for any business. In the past, a large company might need entire buildings full of file cabinets to hold all the relevant information. Of course, this meant that records would occasionally need to be destroyed to make room for new records.
Thankfully, the Meraki cloud provided by PCH offers a much more streamlined option. Here, you can store vast amounts of data with confidence. The chances of data loss occurring in a well-managed cloud are very low. However, it’s still a good idea to back up the most important records on physical media as a precaution. Even with the best people and the best technology, accidents and glitches can sometimes happen.
Your company’s records are important for many reasons. For instance, you might want to track the growth of your business over time. By analyzing the upticks and downswings, and corresponding them with decisions that were made at the time, you can get a good picture of what measures have been successful. You can also tell when your company is about to embark on a bad idea that has led to losses in the past.
That’s why cloud-based record-keeping is so helpful. It allows you to access detailed records and statistics at the touch of a button, and also allows you to do so from any connected device. Even if your company’s headquarters are on the other side of the planet, it will be easy to pull up these records for quick reference.
That brings us to the next benefit that comes from using the Meraki cloud. Better record-keeping is a great help to your business planning, but it is also essential for making sure that you comply with all relevant regulations. These could include state laws, federal laws, local laws, international conventions, and all sorts of other regulations. For some businesses, like those who deal with chemicals, these rules are not to be taken lightly. Huge fines (and worse) can result from poor compliance with the law.
When your records are maintained in a secure yet semi-transparent cloud, it is a little bit easier to maintain compliance. Any person who is affiliated with your company will be able to see the problem, and it only takes one person to draw attention to that problem. In addition, many companies like ours offer expert consulting services that specialize in matters of compliance.
Wireless Access Points
One of the most irritating things about any large-scale computer systems is the need for cabling. Before long, all those different cables can become a giant “wire squid” that constantly needs to be untangled and updated. They also tend to be targeted by pests and vulnerable to the weather. Any way you slice it, large amounts of cables are a pain.
That’s another reason that we stick with Cisco Meraki technology. It is designed (from the ground-up) to be completely wireless. Instead of the horrible wire squid from days of yore, you will have a series of wireless access points. From here, any device with wi-fi capability can use the network.
We already mentioned the fact that Cisco Meraki’s cloud system makes use of the unique properties of radio waves. One of the benefits of this technology comes from its superior reliability. Wi-fi signals can sometimes be spotty, especially when huge amounts of traffic are present. Meraki’s cloud solves this problem quite neatly by using radio waves for both signal augmentation and security. This, combined with the latest in wi-fi advancements, makes for a smooth network that can be relied upon 24 hours a day.
About Meraki Analytics
We have already mentioned the many benefits of the Meraki dashboard. In fact, we didn’t even go over all of the features, as that would have taken far too long. However, let’s take a moment to consider one of the most useful features on this interface. The analytical tools that provide up-to-date metrics of many kinds. There is no end to the useful things you can learn by analyzing these metrics.
For instance, you can take a look at the locations in which your company does the most business. Clearly, those people should be your target demographic. As such, you will want to plan your marketing in such a way as to suit that demographic. For instance, let’s say that you are selling a lot of products in Russia and that those people constitute the majority of your customers. Obviously, you will want to create more Russian-language content. You will also want to consider the cultural norms of the region so that you don’t accidentally offend your key demographic.
You can also look at the times of the year in which your company does the most business. As an extreme example, let’s consider a company that sells holiday-related merchandise. Obviously, the majority of their business will take place around the holidays, and they need to plan things accordingly. They know that they will have very little income during other times of the year, so their budget has to reflect that fact. Of course, your company isn’t likely to do most of its business at a single time of the year, but there are likely to be certain trends that you can use to your advantage.
You can also use these analytics to gauge the efficacy of your company’s web site. If your webmaster is doing his job, your site should be directing a significant amount of business to your company. For many people, a website is the first layer of interaction with a given company, and so that is your chance to impress them and get their business. If that isn’t happening, the problem could be an unappealing website. After all, first impressions are always the most lasting ones. You can track the success of your website through experimentation. Change a few things here and there, and then watch your analytics to see if your business seems to have been affected by those changes.
Can The Meraki Cloud Be Scaled Up Or Down?
Scaling is another important aspect that must be considered. The size of the network needs to fit the size of the business. The Meraki cloud is well-suited for large and small scale operations and should work equally well for both.
The size of the network is defined as the number of devices that can be connected to the system at one time, or it can be defined as the amount of data that the network can handle. The storage capacity of a cloud is another way to define the relative size of a cloud network. Either way, the modular nature of the Meraki cloud design should make it easily scalable for all sizes and types of business.
Do Meraki Cloud-Based Systems Require Maintenance?
The answer is no. Cisco (the parent company of Meraki) takes care of all the updates and maintenance for you. Of course, you will occasionally need to update your devices (computers, tablets, etc.) so that they can work well with the cloud. However, Cisco does regular updates and patches, which should ensure that no maintenance is necessary on your end.
In short, Cisco Meraki is a company that provides an excellent cloud service. PCH Technologies has partnered with them so as to bring you the most efficient and effective IT management system that money can buy. Sure, we could have gone with some other kind of cloud architecture, but this one provides you with maximum control over every device on your network. It would truly be hard for any unauthorized access to happen, and it would be even harder for the culprit to get away with their crime.
This mix of security and control make Cisco Meraki the safest option. In spite of this, they have not sacrificed convenience or ease of use in exchange for that higher level of security. It is indeed very hard to balance the need for security with the need for convenience, but Cisco Meraki has done a good job in that regard. If you are interested in learning more about our company and the many services that we provide, please fill out the contact form below.