Cisco and Meraki Midyear Updates
Summer is almost here and there has been a ton of updates coming from Cisco and Meraki SD-WAN land. With partner, user, and product conferences going virtual, product information has been flowing. In case you missed anything, I will run through some important updates below.
Meraki licensing is getting complicated! A new MX tier has appeared. Secure SD-WAN Plus App Health, WAN Health, VoIP Health (not just Meraki Voice), VPN exclusions(application-based), Adaptive Policy (Tag-based), and new Meraki Insights are all available at this new tier. Meraki brings to light a slew of developed features and abilities. W Insights, WAN health, and others have been available for some time in the Beta form. More recently, these features have been worked into production versions of code. The cost for these features has historically been a “bolt-on”. With the new MX tier, all of these features are lumped in and made available. Meraki’s 3 tier MX licensing aligns nicely with the Cisco / Viptela packages, which are essentials, advantage, and premier.
What’s next for Meraki? The Cisco AnyConnect VPN client software integration is showing some progress. Closed Beta testing is in process and will be wrapping up later this summer. Canned Meraki setup scenarios seem to be the play initially here with the MX250/450 and MX67/68 hardware. The AnyConnect flexibility and features available with ASA and FirePOWER look to be safe for now.
Cisco SD-WAN (Viptela)
Cisco SD-WAN software now supports some UC functionality. Yes, it sounds like something it should already do. The UC feature has been a staple in traditional WAN architecture. As an active voice gateway or just offering inbound voice services and local survivability functions, it was a sweet spot. With this update, a large scale Cisco iWAN customers can look to upgrade. Initially, T1 and DSP resources supported will be limited but additional hardware will be added in future software releases. The CLI Add On Feature templates are also being introduced. If it can be done via CLI, this feature will let you do it with vManage. UC brings lots of complexity to how things are set up and configured with flexibility being the culprit here. Templates can help standardize UC setup and configs moving forward but adopting existing operations needs to be front and center.
Finally, a universal software image for ISR1K, ISR4K, and ASR1K routers is now available. Version 17.2 brings a single image allowing users to choose an operational mode. Autonomous mode is for legacy IOS-XE operation. Controller mode brings you to SD-WAN world with a reload needed to change modes. This release also integrates Umbrella cloud security (SIG) allowing for auto-tunnel creation. Previously, manual tunnel creation was required and this feature allows for ease of setup and deployment of Cisco Secure Cloud Security.
Cisco also now has a Cellular gateway. This allows for prerecession placement and better cellular coverage primary for WAN connectivity needs. A major prerequisite for real 4/5G performance is a good signal. Most network closets don’t have great cell phone coverage. Ask any network engineer troubleshooting an issue with the console connected in a dark closet. An antenna on the roof and a direct 30 ft cable to your router would get you 20– 100 Mb with a 1 – 2 % packet loss over 4G. If you aren’t a utility you probably don’t own your building. This making drilling / poking holes in your ceiling less acceptable. The Cellular gateway is mounted where you get a good signal. It then converts and hands that connection off in an ethernet frame. You “switch” the connection to where it’s needed. What’s new about this, is that Cisco vManage can manage the cellular gateway. It can make power adjustments, take performance metrics, and alert when perceived metrics or availability changes. The Cellular unit supports PoE and external DC power supply input and dual SIM card for carrier diversity.
SD-WAN has been hotter than ever. Cisco has Enterprise Agreements to help offset software subscription costs and free router bundles making getting started easier than ever. Reach out today and let us know how we can help get started.