This is the first in a series of ‘Full SP’s on Remote Working Solutions. To kick things off, I’m taking a look at the solutions on offer from Cisco Meraki over a few posts, with an overview of the benefits of Meraki MX/MR, as well as a look at the lower end, cheaper Z3 and how the Meraki Product portfolio can offer organisations of any size to deploy a secure remote teleworking setup with Zero-touch and Zero Configuration needed by your remote workforce.
The Challenges to Ideal Remote Working
The current Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has lead to homeworking on a scale that, quite literally, the world has never seen before. So far, aside from a few network issues at the beginning of the epidemic, homeworking connectivity (at least for me and my partner) has held up pretty well. Both myself and my partner have had minimal issues with video conferencing (we both use Teams) albeit with sometimes slightly reduced video quality sometimes) and attending various webinars and external meetings where these have been on Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting, the experience has been pretty much spot-on. That said, i can see how the current situation may well be proving a real headache for IT managers across the country; having raced valiantly to get laptops out of the door a week or two ago to employees to work at home and get VPN’s up and running, the concern now appears to be shifting more towards how to enforce security of corporate devices, prevent data leaking out of corporate networks and a potential explosion of ‘accidental’ Shadow IT as employees download different kinds of apps to help with collaboration – all in a genuine effort to keep productivity up. However keeping control of this within an organisation can be extremely challenging, and difficult to support should something go wrong. Other challenges include:
- Zero On-site IT/Network Staff
- Constricted access to corporate resources
- No access to VoIP telephony
- Consumer-grade network security
- Limited access to IT Support
- Visibility for IT Team
Meraki Teleworking Solutions
One of the things we love about the Cisco Meraki range is the zero-touch provisioning. Using the Meraki dashboard it’s possible to deploy a configuration template to remote workers with no interaction required at all on the part of non-IT staff. Remote workers simply unbox their Meraki access point, plug in the device to their existing broadband router and connect their PC to the Meraki Access point (rather than their usual broadband router. With Auto-VPN remote workers are then part of the corporate network as if they were in the office – shared drives and other resources are then accessible in a secure way, with IT having full visibility of all devices on the network.