Mode Cast

Infrastructure in the Cloud:
A Chat with Cisco Meraki

"We do target a certain customer type, which is any customer who has distributed branches; whether that's worldwide or nationwide."

— David Van Schravendijk, Product Marketing Manager at Cisco Meraki

Featuring:

David Van Schravendijk,
Product Marketing Manager at Cisco Meraki

Description:

In this episode of Mode Radio, Cisco Meraki product marketing manager David van Schravendijk speaks with Jo McDougald about how Meraki is making infrastructure management easier for companies by moving key infrastructure components to the cloud. Jo and David also discuss the tremendous and growing importance of security in today's IT environment.

Listen on SoundCloud [Or read the transcript below]

Transcript:

JoAnne McDougald:
"Hi, and welcome to this IT podcast. I'm joined today by David van Schravendyke of Cisco Meraki, and David is here today at ONUG in New York City. It's kind of a fun day. What prompted you to want to come to ONUG What were some of the talks that were going to be of interest to you, and what's going on in the networking industry that brought you to the show today?"

David van Schravendijk:
"So there's a lot of trends happening in the networking industry right now, and a lot of it's focused around digital transformation, where businesses around the world are looking to get ahead as far as their technology to delight their customers and help their organizations run more smoothly. ONUG, at an executive level, is really focused on that. There's a lot of executives and CIOs coming in here today from companies all around the world who have relatively massively scaled out organizations who are hoping to benefit from some of the technology solutions that people are showing off here at ONUG. So Cisco Meraki is a big part of that."

Jo:
"Yes. It's a great lineup. There are people from brand-new companies like Mode to Arcus to old favorites like Cisco. So there's a lot of interest in the room. Cisco Meraki — so tell me what you do for them and what they do."

David:
"Sure. So I am a product marketing manager for Cisco Meraki, and I manage the security and SD-WAN appliance solution at Meraki; but in general Meraki was a company that was started in 2012. They started with access points. There were a bunch of MIT researchers who came up with a better way to do wireless, and that was by managing it through the cloud.

So previously you would have to have a controller onsite with a wireless access point to be able to manage it and configure it and provision, install it; but that's no longer needed with Meraki's technology. You do away with that controller. The controller is actually hosted in the cloud, one of Meraki's servers. So that was the model that we started with, was wireless; and it really caught on with organizations that wanted to scale out, to be able to install technology very quickly, to be able to manage it from anywhere.

So that was – the model started with the access points; and then since we’ve expanded. We were acquired by Cisco in 2012, and we've since released switches, security and SD-WAN appliances, and even endpoint management software and cameras as well. They're all managed via the cloud, so controllers are not required for any of the Meraki products, because they're all hosted in our globally distributed data centers."

Jo:
"What kind of companies are interested in the Meraki product? Who's your signature company that you work with today?"

David:
"Yes. So we have almost a – a big brand in almost every vertical in retail, for example. Retail is a big area for us, but that's definitely not what we're limited to. We have professional services companies all over the world. IHG Hotels uses us. Audi uses us, manufacturing companies. We're very agnostic to the type of vertical. We do target a certain customer type, which is any customer who has distributed branches; whether that's worldwide or nationwide. They can really, really benefit from a lot of the Meraki technology."

Jo:
"Well, I'm thinking, I did not put you in the shameless commerce section of this podcast. I am an Audi – avid – I think I've had one other car other than an Audi in my life. I just going back to the well, so I'm excited that your technology is included in that. So for the types of partnerships that you guys work with, I know the SD-WAN thing is swiffering the nation. It’s not just sweeping. It's swiffering. It's in every aspect of it. Having that type of choice that SD-WAN provides, how do you guys play in that market? What's the alignment there?"

David:
"Yes. So As far as partnerships, one of our biggest partners is basically Cisco. Since we were acquired in 2012, we've gotten a lot of benefits of working with Cisco."

Jo:
"How do you spell that? Is that S-Y-S-C-O? No, just kidding. Okay."

David:
"I actually didn't know until after I had joined Cisco where the name actually came from. Cisco comes from San Francisco, which is – it was started in the San Francisco Bay area."

Jo:
"And that's why there's the bridge in their logo."

David:
"The logo – yes; but Cisco gives us a lot of great technologies that we integrate into a lot of our products. So from a security perspective, Cisco is one of the largest security vendors in the world; and we integrate things like advanced malware protection, intrusion prevention. These technologies come from Cisco, and we take them and pull them into the Meraki stack of technologies; and we make them very easy to manage via the cloud."

Jo:
"That's terrific. In terms of all of these cognitive era analytics that are going on with AI, machine learning, and that sort of thing; how do you guys work with, or – has that been incorporated into your product, as well?"

David:
"Yes. That ties into a lot of the Cisco technology. So for example, we have – security is a big issue these days. If you look at malware volume over the last year. It's expanded 10x. There's all sorts of attacks happening. There was a major cybersecurity report that just came out about a week ago that talked about the hack that happened to NHS, the healthcare provider for all of England. The analysis showed – it was done by, actually, the UK government – that they had 92 million pounds of damages from this security attack that had happened. They had gotten a Wannacry ransomware security hack that had happened – 92 millions pounds. That's not dollars. That's pounds.

They actually, in the report, noted that they would be spending 250 million pounds on cybersecurity over the next few years to help remedy that sort of vulnerability; and so attackers are getting more and more sophisticated over time, and security is becoming ever more important and a prevalent issue. It's extremely costly if you don’t have some sort of security solution.

So with Cisco, we integrate with advanced malware protection, which is – it checks to see if you've downloaded a file, whether that file is malicious or not; but where the machine learning and artificial intelligence comes in is, if that file is unknown – so maybe it's a newly created file by a hacker who is on a bleeding edge as far as vulnerabilities and pushing those into different vulnerable systems. We actually have another integration with Cisco, which is called Threat Grid.

Threat Grid takes that file that's unknown. Maybe it's a brand-new file. It pulls it into an isolated environment away from your network, a sort of sandboxed environment. It will start opening that file, picking it apart, and checking it for markers that may cause it to look like a malicious file. So they'll check for these characteristics, and that's where it uses machine learning to analyze that file and maybe predict what that file could be like if it were inserted into a vulnerable system. So that's where we get a lot of the artificial intelligence partnership with Cisco into our Meraki products."

Jo:
"Well, that's super smart. I'm sure this happens in real time. It's picking it apart, but it takes nanoseconds."

David:
"Exactly."

Jo:
"So you're not damaging somebody's throughput or their IO. It's also happening, and yet you're secure."

David:
"Exactly, yes. So there's some limiting throughput effect, because you do have to send that file up; but the speed at which it happens is virtually instantaneous from the user perspective."

Jo:
"Good job. Thanks so much for joining us today."

David:
"All right. Thank you."

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