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Getting Started

Welcome to Cisco Meraki! This guide will walk you through how to get started in the Meraki dashboard, the centralized cloud management platform for all Meraki devices and services. It is intended for network administrators who will be monitoring and managing Meraki products.

Getting Started Checklist 

As opposed to traditional hardware that requires physical access to be configured, you can configure everything before you even have your devices, thanks to the Meraki cloud! Meraki devices get all their configuration settings from the Meraki cloud, which means the only prerequisite to getting a device up and running is an uplink connection on the device itself. As long as your device can get to the internet and has the appropriate firewall rules configured - as outlined in our article, Upstream Firewall Rules for Cloud Connectivity - your device will be able to contact the Meraki cloud and report on its performance, as well as check for and download its latest configuration.

All of your configuration settings can be set up in the dashboard before you even have the device, or it can be done after the fact. There is a tremendous amount of flexibility when getting started with the initial setup for a Meraki deployment. Here's a list of the things you'll need to set up for your first devices and networks while following this document:

  • A Meraki dashboard account and organization - you'll create an organization at the same time you create your account!
  • An order number for a Meraki purchase, or the serial numbers of your devices
  • An idea of what you want to do with your devices and how to group them
  • An uplink to the internet for your devices, with valid firewall rules configured, so they can talk to the Meraki cloud

That's all you need to get started with Meraki! Before moving into creating a dashboard account, let's address some terminology that will come up throughout documentation and the dashboard itself.

Introduction to the Meraki Cloud and Dashboard

The Meraki cloud is the backbone of the highly available, secure and efficient Meraki solution, enabling instant onboarding access to all features inside the Meraki dashboard. It is comprised of highly-reliable servers at various data centers around the world. The Meraki dashboard itself is a centralized, web browser-based tool used to monitor and configure Meraki devices and services. A dashboard account is what you use to log in to the dashboard in order to manage and configure your organizations, networks, and devices.

It is important to note that "organization" and "network" in this sense are from the perspective of the dashboard. In the Meraki dashboard, an "organization" is a logical container for Meraki networks managed by one or more accounts. A dashboard "network", on the other hand, is logical container for a set of centrally managed Meraki devices and services. Devices go in a network; networks go in an organization; organizations are managed by user accounts from the Meraki dashboard; all of this information, as well as device configuration settings, is stored in the Meraki cloud.

We highly recommend the article - Meraki Cloud Architecture - for additional information regarding the Meraki cloud and how devices communicate with it.

Creating a Dashboard Account

In order to begin, you'll first need to create an account in the Meraki dashboard, if you don't have one already. For more information about how the dashboard is organized, please refer to our documentation on the Meraki Dashboard Organizational Structure.

  1. Navigate to https://dashboard.meraki.com.
  2. Select Create an account.
  3. Select the region your Meraki dashboard account and organization will reside in. All data related to your dashboard organization will reside on servers in the selected region. Ensure that this is accurate, as it cannot be changed later.
  4. Provide the requested information.
    • Email - The email address that will be used to log in to the dashboard, and for administrator communication.
    • Full Name - The name will be displayed for your account in logs, selection fields, and when contacting Meraki Support.
    • Password - Passwords must be at least 8 characters long. We recommend using a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters.
    • Company - The name of your company or organization; for example, Cisco Systems, Inc.
    • Address - (Optional) An address that can be used as the default for network locations and maps within the dashboard.
  5. Select Create account at the bottom of the page. 


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Congratulations! You've successfully created a Meraki dashboard account and organization. In the above example, we created the organization "Colonel Panic, Inc." under the dashboard account "admin@colonelpanic.fake" - note that in reality, a valid email address is required when making the account. Before continuing, check your email and interact with the confirmation link to verify your account. You will be unable to access the newly created dashboard organization or log in to your account until the email address is verified.

Creating a Network

Now that you have a Meraki dashboard account and organization, it's time to create a network. Networks are used to contain devices and their configurations. It's common practice to create a device network for each physical location. For example:

  • NYC - Wireless and Security Appliance
  • SF - Switches, Cameras, Wireless, and Security Appliance

To create a hardware or device network:

  1. Log in to https://dashboard.meraki.com using the account created earlier.
  2. From the prompted window, choose Register Meraki devices and select Next.


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Note: If you do not see this prompt in your Meraki dashboard, navigate to Organization > Configure > Create network in the left-side pane instead.

  1. Provide the requested information to create the network and register the devices on-hand.
    • Name - The name that will be used to identify this network in the Meraki dashboard; for example, "NYC - Wireless" or "SF Office".
    • Network type - Choose which type of Meraki device(s) will be managed in this network. Note: This drop-down is not shown unless you are creating the network through the Organization > Configure > Create network page. If you used the prompt shown above, the created network will automatically be the correct type for the device(s) added. If two or more device types are added, the network will be created as a Combined network.
      • Wireless - Wireless access points (MR Series)
      • Security Appliance - Security appliance (MX Series) or teleworker gateway (Z Series); please note only one of these devices can exist per network
      • Switch - Access and aggregation switches (MS Series)
      • Camera - Security cameras (MV Series)
      • Combined hardware - These networks can contain a mix of any (or all) of the above devices; please note that the limit of one MX or Z-Series device still applies
    • (Optional) Devices - If you have an order number or device serial number on-hand, it can be added here; otherwise, refer to the section Adding Devices and Licenses once this information is available. Adding a device at this stage will allow you to add it directly to the network.
      1. Enter an order number (e.g. 5S######) or device serial number(s) (e.g. Qxxx-xxxx-xxxx) in the box next to the blue Claim button, one per line. 
      2. Select Claim.
      3. Tick the checkbox next to any desired devices, and they will be added to the network once created.


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  1. Choose Create network

With that, you've successfully created a Meraki dashboard device or hardware network. This is where you'll be able to configure and manage your Cisco Meraki devices; look in the left-side panel to access your newly created network. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of combined networks and how to combine networks after creation, please refer to our article titled Combined Dashboard Networks.

Creating a Systems Manager Network

To create a Systems Manager network for endpoint management, a slightly different process is followed.

  1. Log in to https://dashboard.meraki.com using the account created earlier.
  2. From the prompted window, choose Set up Systems Manager and select Next.

 

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Note: If you do not see this prompt in your Meraki dashboard, navigate to Organization > Configure > Create network in the left-side pane instead.

  1. Give the network a name - for example, "Company Phones". If the page has a drop-down for Network type, select EMM (Systems Manager) from the dropdown.
  2. Review the page, then select Create network at the bottom of the screen.

Once complete, you've successfully created a Meraki Systems Manager network. This is where you can configure profiles, payloads, applications, and many other features for endpoint management. This network type can be combined with hardware networks if desired but is generally kept separate for ease of administration - endpoint management is rarely tied to a single location, so having a standalone network for all managed endpoints is a common practice. For an overview of common questions and additional links to getting started, please consult our Systems Manager FAQ article.

Adding Devices and Licenses

While a network can be configured without any devices in it, devices need to be added to a network to download their configuration. You'll also need to add the licenses for those devices. This can easily be done in one step using the order number associated with your devices and licenses.

  1. Within the Meraki dashboard, navigate to Organization > Configure > Inventory using the left-side navigation bar.
  2. In the box next to the blue Claim button, enter any order numbers, one per line.
    • If this box does not appear, devices were added already. Select Claim in the upper right corner of the page to bring up the dialog.
    • If an order number is not available, serial numbers for devices can be entered instead, one per line. We advise entering order numbers when possible, as this will also claim any corresponding licenses that were part of the order, as opposed to needing to add them manually in the following section.
  3. Choose Claim


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At this point, a list of devices should appear in the inventory. These devices can then be added to networks, like the one created earlier.

  1. Tick the checkbox next to any devices that should be added to the network.
  2. Select Add to above the inventory list.
  3. Under Existing network, choose the network that was created earlier.
  4. Select Add to existing


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Note: Remember that only a single MX or Z series device can be contained in a given network, unless a secondary MX is to be used as a warm spare. To configure two MX appliances for warm spare functionality, follow these instructions to add the first MX appliance, then refer to our documentation on the MX Warm Spare feature for more info.

Once this step is complete, the device(s) selected will now be located in the network and are ready to be configured. 

Manually Adding Licenses

If the order number associated with a license is not known, or the license was ordered separately from the devices, it may be necessary to add a license manually. This license key should have been received via email from shipping@meraki.com or your authorized Meraki distributor.

  1. Within the Meraki dashboard, navigate to Organization > Configure > License info.
  2. Select the link to Add another license.
  3. For the Operation, choose "License more devices".
  4. Enter the License key in the box provided. Enter the key exactly as provided, including dashes. License keys are provided in the format Zxxx-xxxx-xxxx.
  5. Choose Add license.


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  1. On the following page, confirm the accuracy of the details shown; if everything looks correct, select Add license.

The license key will now be added to the organization. If additional licenses need to be added at this time, repeat the steps above. For more information about license management and guidelines, please consult our article titled Cisco Meraki Licensing Guidelines and Limitations.

Device Setup

If you have Meraki devices in-hand that have not yet been installed, please refer to our quick start guides for first-time setup. These will provide information about mounting and initial configuration. 

Once the device is installed and online, it is ready to communicate with the dashboard to download available firmware updates and initial configuration.

For information about setting up Systems Manager - Meraki's endpoint management platform - please refer to our article titled Systems Manager Quick Start.

Next Steps

If you've been following along with this document - congratulations! You've successfully created your dashboard account and dashboard organization, the first dashboard network contained in that organization, and have added your first device(s) to that network. You've also added the appropriate licensing to your organization. At this point, you're ready to start configuring and setting up your devices. This section will help direct you toward the right documentation to keep moving forward - and if you have questions that aren't answered in the below articles, check out our documentation library.

Configuring a Network

To begin configuring your network, simply navigate to the desired configuration options in the Meraki dashboard and make your changes. Once your devices are online, they will automatically download their latest configuration within one to two minutes after saving the changes in the dashboard. For more information about the configuration options available for each type of Meraki device, refer to the respective product manuals below. 

Using the Local Status Page

Meraki MX/MR/MS series devices have a local status page that can be accessed to perform limited local configuration changes, monitor device status and utilization, and simple local troubleshooting. This page is useful when initially deploying new devices, as it allows for IP assignment on the device as well as basic status information during first-time setup. A breakdown of the options on the local status page for each of these devices, as well as how to access them, can be found in our article titled Using the Cisco Meraki Device Local Status Page.

Adding and Managing Administrators

Now that you have an organization with a network and devices, we recommend that you add at least one other administrator to the organization. This provides redundancy in the event one administrator is locked-out due to failed password attempts, or otherwise unable to access the Meraki dashboard. Details on adding additional administrators and the various permissions and roles they can have are covered in our article Managing Dashboard Administrators and Permissions.

Recommended Reading and Additional Resources

The following list of articles will help to further your knowledge regarding the Meraki dashboard and how things work. We recommend giving these articles a look so you can leverage the full functionality and features of the Meraki dashboard and your devices.

  • Best Practices for Meraki Firmware - Meraki has always prided itself on delivering powerful networking and IT solutions in a simple, easy to manage fashion. This extends to firmware management on Meraki devices.
  • Licensing FAQ - This article answers common questions regarding Meraki licensing, supplementing the guidelines and limitations article linked earlier in this document.
  • The Cisco Meraki Dashboard API - The Meraki Dashboard API is an interface for software to interact directly with the Meraki cloud platform and Meraki managed devices. The API contains a set of tools known as endpoints for building software and applications that communicate with the Meraki Dashboard for use cases such as provisioning, bulk configuration changes, monitoring, and role-based access controls.
  • Managing Multiple Networks with Configuration Templates - Configuration templates allow many Meraki devices to be deployed using a single base configuration. This makes it much easier to roll-out new sites/users and maintain consistency across each site's configuration. It is most useful in cases were a large number of sites exist that share a common network design.
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