Mode Cast

Harnessing SD-WAN:
A Chat with Cisco Meraki

"We want to make sure that our customers are having access to the latest and greatest technology in the networking space, but having it really, really simple and easy to use."

— Rahul Ramakrishnan, Product Manager at Meraki MX

Featuring:

Rahul Ramakrishnan,
Product Manager at Meraki MX

Description:

In this episode of Mode Radio, Meraki MX's Product Manager Rahul Ramakrishnan speaks with Jo McDougald about how Cisco Meraki's products and services harness SD-WAN to add cost savings and generally make life easier for people throughout the organization.

Listen on SoundCloud [Or read the transcript below]

Transcript:

JoAnne McDougald:
"Hi everyone, and welcome back to another episode of 'Taking IT with Jo.' Hey, I'm here today at ONUG. It's October 23rd. It is a beautiful day in New York City, and I'm sitting here with Rahul Ramakrishnan from Meraki. How did I do?"

Rahul Ramakrishnan:
"Very good."

Jo:
"Did I torture your name?"

Rahul:
"That was right on point."

Jo:
"I'm on point, so far on point. Let's stay on point for a few minutes, but there's no doubt that we will digress at some point; but that's all right. So today tell me a little bit about you. It’'s all about you right now. What do you do, and then – a little bit about what Meraki does – and then we'll come back and talk a little bit about what's going on at ONUG."

Rahul:
"Sure. So, hey, thank you for having me. My name is Rahul, and I'm the product manager for Meraki MX. MX is our security and SD-WAN appliance at Meraki. Meraki is all about simplifying powerful technology. All of our product lines follow that message. We want to make sure that our customers are having access to the latest and greatest technology in the networking space, but having it really, really simple and easy to use. That's true across the board."

Jo:
"So I imagine that simplicity comes, perhaps, in a couple of different ways. Is that not sending a network engineer to a command line interface? Maybe there's a nice GUI; maybe there are rules that are easy to set up; maybe there are personas that people can be a part of."

Rahul:
"That's exactly right. The simplicity is about building the latest hardware but having it easy to use through our cloud managed dashboard. So how you do that is just going through our GUI on the dashboard and browser, and you're able to set and configure hundreds or thousands of devices all in a couple clicks."

Jo:
"Wait. I want my command line interface. I don't have to config network and spell it incorrectly."

Rahul:
"It's all just clicks and typing, so –"

Jo:
"That's great. So in your capacity I imagine you have helped actual customers. Tell me a little bit about – what are the kind of use cases that customers have identified and that you've been able to help them be successful with with Meraki implementation?"

Rahul:
"Sure. So a lot of our customers nowadays are having tons and tons of distributed sites. It's hard to justify the cost of sending a person to each and every site, setting up a device and spending hours there, when all you have to do with the Meraki solution is send out devices to each and every one of your hundreds of thousands of sites; just have someone there power it on; and then you can start to manage, configure, and have visibility into those devices just from the seat of your home, in a comfortable situation where you're just on your dashboard and managing everything through there."

Jo:
"Yeah. That brings to mind: With distributed people and devices, this is where the security piece is obviously of huge import, making sure that not only that connection but that device is secure. So how do you guys manage that?"

Rahul:
"Yes. So the good part about the Meraki MX is that we're actually the first in the market to combine both security and SD-WAN all in one device. This sort of ties back to our simplifying technology, where we're putting everything all in one, so you don't have to manage multiple devices. With the MX what you're getting is best in class security to protect your network."

How we do this, and the wonderful part about being part of Cisco, is that we get to integrate with all the various Cisco technologies. So we have native integrations with AMP for malware protection with Snort for IDS/IPS. The list is just going to continue and grow and grow, and really what that means is that MX is the best positioned within Cisco to do this – cross org integrations with various technologies best in class Cisco technology – and keep our customers safe."

Jo:
"You know, you've made this all sound incredibly simple."

Rahul:
"That's exactly the point. "

Jo:
"At ONUG this week, what we've been hearing over and over again is, 'it's not if, it's when,' it's just how bad the security breach will be. It sounds as though your product and your team have brought together a solution that not only makes it easy to use and simple to operate but also secure. I know that every day everyone is trying to stay ahead of these bad actors who are just getting more and more creative; zero-day, Stuxnet kind of stuff. It was cutting edge at the time, and now it's just going to be like, oh, whatevs; that was easy."

Rahul:
"That's right. The threat of malicious attackers will always be there, but no CIO or CISO wants to be that next one on the news standing in front of court having to answer questions about data privacy and breaches and things like that; so really we want to make sure our customers are ahead of the curve by getting a platform that is integrating with Cisco technologies. Everyone knows Cisco is the best in the industry and having a device that can integrate across all the various technologies means that they're really setting themselves up for the best protection by having all these layers of security with it."

Jo:
"With SD-WAN you get all the flexibility. Do you want to have your own private network? Do you want to go on MPLS? You have all that flexibility, because you’ve got the SD-WAN implementation."

Rahul:
"That's right. So the other piece of the puzzle is, 'hey, I have – I'm keeping my network secure, but I also want to drive my costs down.' With an SD-WAN solution, you're able to do that. With Meraki MX, you are able to prioritize various applications. As more and more applications are going into the cloud, like Office 365, you want to make sure that these things are reliable. Being able to choose and have the MX make the decisions on which uplink is best based on performance means that, again, it's just a quick set it and forget it."

We make it entirely simple to use. You just say you want your applications prioritized for best performance, and you're good to go. The MX does the rest. So that's really the bread and butter of what we do at Meraki."

Jo:
"Yes. Let's get back to you. In your day to day, what's a typical day for you, and how are you helping customers achieve their goals?"

Rahul:
"Sure. So every week I talk to a ton of customers, and really the point of that is to get to know them intimately, to make sure I understand what their problems are and how we can best build solutions or already have solutions that help; because sometimes it's just a knowledge issue. So with that, I take that feedback back to our engineering team, our marketing teams, our sales teams, our support teams.

I'm meeting with the entire – across org, across Meraki weekly to make sure that everyone is on the same page; we're marching towards the same mission; and that everyone is well aware that the fantastic work that we're doing at Meraki is making our customers' lives simpler and easier."

Jo:
"That's the name of the game, man. It's all down to customers; and that's you and me, I think, with virtual, ER, AR, machine learning. Everything is getting more seamless and invisible. So soon this technology is just fading away. I'm going to miss the command line interface, for sho, but I'm sure there are lots of network engineers who won't. It sounds like Meraki MX helps that happen. So thank you so much for joining us today, Rahul."

Rahul:
"Thank you for having me."

Jo:
"Awesome."

^