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Client Tracking Options

There are 3 different ways to track clients on the dashboard:  Track by Meraki Identifier, Track by MAC, and Track by IP.

This article outlines how to change client tracking in the dashboard, differences among the three options as well as the best use cases for each in different topologies.

Note: Only the MX Security Appliance has the option to track clients by IP or Meraki Identifier. All other Cisco Meraki devices will only distinguish clients based on MAC addresses.

Configuring Client Tracking 

The following instructions outline how to change the client tracking method:

  1. In the Dashboard, navigate to Configure > Addressing & VLANs.
  2. Under Network-wide, change the Client tracking to the desired option:

 

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  1. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

Client Tracking Option Use Cases

The best tracking method to use depends on whether any layer 3 devices are routing between the security appliance and your end clients, which would introduce multiple broadcast domains. The recommendations are detailed below. 

 

L3 device routing between MX-Z and clients?

Recommended Tracking Option

None, or L2-only switches

Track by MAC

Meraki MS switches with L3 enabled

Track by Meraki Identifier

Non-Meraki L3 switches/routers

Track by IP

Combination of Non-Meraki and Meraki switches with L3

Track by IP

Note: Topologies that have a Non-Meraki (or Meraki) switch between the ISP and the MX are not supported at this time. For such a scenario, Track by MAC is the best option. 

Tracking by Meraki Identifier

Meraki Identifier is a tracking method that uses information about the topology of the network to uniquely identify and track clients throughout the whole network. This is specifically useful when there is a Meraki L3 routing device in the middle of the network that segregates/blocks broadcast traffic which would have the client's MAC address. The identifier is determined by an algorithm that intelligently merges client MAC and IP addresses seen across the Meraki stack. This method should be used only if the network has downstream layer 3 routing devices and they are all Meraki devices.

Note: In cases where your deployment uses L3 devices from other vendors, Track by IP is still the best option. 

How Track by Meraki Identifier Works

This option supports tracking clients over multiple broadcast domains, specifically where layer 3 Meraki MS switches are routing between end clients and the security appliance. Unlike track by IP, this method, instead of relying solely on IP addresses, correlates topology and device information in Meraki’s backend to uniquely identify each client, allowing the security appliance to track clients in a combined network with other Meraki devices (e.g. switches, wireless, etc.), which may simplify administration.

 

Requirements and Conditions

Please review the requirements and conditions below and then to enable this feature on your network, please contact Meraki Support

To see the Meraki Identifier option, the following conditions must be met: 

  • There must be a security appliance with at least one Meraki L3 switch in the same network in the dashboard. For avoiding issues, the devices on that dashboard network have to also be physically connected
  • This option is only shown if the  MX firmware version is 9+ and the MS firmware version is 10+
  • A L3 switch has to be in the combined network, but for the feature to be available, an interface or static routes do not need to be configured in Switch > Routing & DHCP 

If you are currently tracking by IP, you will need to temporarily change it to track by MAC in order to combine the network. Once the network is combined, under ‘Addressing and  VLANs’ on your MX, you should see the option for the ‘Meraki Identifier’. 

 

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Changing the client tracking method will reset your client usage statistics. 

Note that switching from Track by Meraki Identifier to Track by IP or Track by MAC may take up to 30 days for client tracking information to update on active devices, which may result in duplicate entries with different client details. Switching from Track by IP or Track by MAC to Track by Meraki Identifier should update within 24 hours for active devices. Inactive devices may take up to 30 days to age out for all tracking options.

Tracking by MAC 

In many deployments, the MX security appliance is used as the gateway for the network and performs inter-VLAN routing for the network if necessary. In this circumstance, the MX is in the same broadcast domain as all clients in the network, so the client's MAC address will be found in all traffic seen by the MX.

The following diagram outlines how the MX can see client MAC addresses in this topology:

 

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Tracking by IP 

 

This option is best used in the two case scenarios:

First is in Split networks, where all layer three devices are Meraki devices but they are on different networks.

Second, in cases where there is a Non-Meraki layer-3 switch performing inter-VLAN routing downstream of the MX. Since Non-Meraki layer-3 devices will modify the source MAC address of client traffic, the MX cannot identify clients by their MAC as shown below:

 

7.png

 

In order to identify clients downstream of the Non-Meraki layer-3 switch, the MX can be changed to track clients by their IP. Since the Non-Meraki layer-3 switch won't be modifying the source IP of client traffic, the MX can identify different clients by IP:

 

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When an MX is set to track clients by IP, the client MAC addresses displayed on the clients List may not be accurate.

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