Now that you’ve seen how to use PerfStack for networks, it’s time to check out the improved MerakiⓇ wireless monitoring of NPM 12.1!
This feature was born from a simple customer request: to cover Meraki gear in the same way we do all the other wireless vendors, showing their hybrid infrastructure in a single pane of glass. Additional research show a common need: don’t develop some different monitoring specific to Meraki, just cover all my wireless gear in one spot, in the same way.
Now NPM has been able to monitor Meraki wireless gear for quite some time. Use the Add Node wizard to add APs with SNMP polling, and you’re off the races. But there were a couple of problems:
- Each AP had to be added individually. Discovery can speed this up, but many users prefer not to run comprehensive discovery often. This really clashes with the idea that Meraki APs can be deployed with near zero touch.
- Client information is not available via SNMP, so it is missing in NPM. Turns out client information is kind of important if you want to know what’s going on with your wireless service.
Essentially, these two issues crop up because of the unique and innovative way Meraki technology works. In traditional thin AP deployments, APs connect to a physical wireless controller that is on-prem. The controller controls (obviously) the APs and provides a central spot for configuration and management. Meraki compounds the benefit of the wireless controller by replacing the physical unit with a logical controller in the Meraki cloud. This means you can express the wireless policy for all of your locations on Meraki’s dashboard, at virtually any scale. You have one wireless configuration. As new APs are added to the network, they can be deployed with virtually zero touch. And you don’t have to manage any physical controllers.
How do you poll the cloud controller though? SNMP really doesn’t make sense to use in a Meraki environment where the controller is logical, and you have to reach it over an insecure medium like the Internet.
The solution is to poll via API. TLS protects the communication just like it does your credit card number when you make a purchase online. And RESTful APIs are just a more modern, intelligent solution.
So we partnered with Meraki to get that done. In NPM 12.1, you’ll notice a new option in the Add Node wizard:
Upon selecting Meraki Wireless: API, you’ll be prompted for your API key. You can find this in your Meraki Dashboard. Once that’s filled in, NPM will connect to the Meraki cloud and retrieve your Organization list. Most companies will have a single Organization, but MSPs or companies that go through a lot of acquisitions may have multiple. After selecting a specific organization and clicking next, NPM will discover all of the APs and list them just as we would for a traditional wireless controller. You can select which you’d like to monitor, and additional APs can be monitored automatically. With that done, you’ll see the Meraki logical controller, APs, and clients in your Node Details and Wireless views:
That’s it! All the complexity happens on the backend, and the UI you use stays the same, just with more data. Simple, right?
Some additional facts you may be interested:
- Licensing works just like it does for traditional on-prem wireless controllers and thin APs. The controller costs one node license. The thin APs do not take licenses!
- While NPM shows more metrics than before, we’re still missing a few things. We’ll look to improve this as the data becomes available in the RESTful API. And some data just doesn’t make sense for Meraki gear, for example Wireless Controller CPU and RAM.
We’re very excited to continue down this path of providing complete monitoring visibility of hybrid infrastructure. Special thanks to Meraki for providing us with shiny new Meraki gear for our lab and working side by side with our development team.