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Simple IT - Digital Reference Architecture

Overview

The Cisco “Simple IT” Architecture is designed to provide tangible operational efficiency to our lean IT customers and reduce operational cost and complexity in several key areas:

  • Elimination of infrastructure & management tools
  • Simplified deployment, operations, and Day-2 support

The following sections provide technical and operational guidance through Validated Use case Designs (VUDs) that customers can leverage to simplify their IT operations, secure their network and accelerate their deployment.

The key components of Simple IT are listed below:

  • Cisco Meraki: A cloud-managed infrastructure enabling efficient IT through a streamlined interface. From deployment and configuration to troubleshooting and upgrades Cisco Meraki allows your IT team to be nimble and quickly adjust your network to meet the business needs.
  • Cisco Spark:  An app-centric, cloud-based service that provides a complete collaboration suite for teams to create, meet, message, call, care, whiteboard, and share, regardless of whether they’re together or apart—in one continuous work stream before, during, and after meetings. It is built to help teams work seamlessly. It is simple, secure, complete, and open, and provides a space for people to work better. 
  • Cisco Umbrella: Uses the internet’s infrastructure to block malicious destinations before a connection is ever established. By delivering security from the cloud, not only do you save money, but we also provide more effective security.
  • Cisco Hyperflex: A high-performance, flash-optimized distributed file system that delivers a wide range of enterprise-grade data management and optimization services

 

Reference Architectural Drawing

Below is the prescribed architecture for leveraging the following Validated Use case Designs (VUDs).  

 

 

Simple IT combines multiple Cisco technologies to give you a streamlined and efficient approach to managing, securing, and scaling your IT operations.  

Validated Use Case Designs (VUD)

Troubleshooting VUD

The Simple IT solution provides easy and straightforward troubleshooting tools to access your end users network challenges and quickly resolve them.  With Spark Bot integration you move from troubleshooting to resolution with a few questions and a few clicks. This results in optimizing your IT resources and getting all your employees back to work faster.

 

Technologies Leveraged

Spark application, Simple IT Spark bots, Spark APIs and Meraki dashboard

 

Simple IT Bot Introduction

The Spark bot is a key component of Simple IT. By leveraging APIs from Spark and Meraki Dashboard the bot delivers readable information with actionable links. It correlates information in a consumable format, drastically reducing the time to resolution for the most common IT troubleshooting use cases. The Simple IT bot utilizes easy registration and clear delivery of relevant IT information.  

End-user troubleshooting Flow Diagram

End-user troubleshooting is a day-to-day challenge that affects all IT administrators. Finding the right network problem or eliminating the network as a source takes a significant amount of time to hunt down. Among having multiple interfaces, debug commands, end users and device information, taking the first step is often the hardest part.  With the Simple IT bot, you can get the relevant information for your end users with just their username. See below for details on how the Simple IT bot can drastically reduce troubleshooting.  

 

new IT troubleshooting picture.png

 

End-User Troubleshooting Step Details 

  1. End-user contacts IT admin

  2. IT admin asks end-user for their AD name
  3. IT admin enters username into Simple IT bot
  4. Simple IT bot makes API calls to Meraki and Spark
  5. Simple IT bot returns relevant Information to IT admin in Spark Room
  6. IT admin troubleshoots problem based on Simple IT bot feedback
  7. End-user's issues are resolved

Network Health Check Flow Diagram

Verifying your system health is an essential process for an IT administrator.  Being able to quickly check the health of multiple technologies from one source allows you to quickly determine if your network is stable or if you need to take a troubleshooting step at a particular site or with a particular technology.  The Simple IT bot allows you to use Spark to quickly check the health of your Simple IT Solution.

final health check1.png

 

 

Network Health Check Flow Diagram Step Details

  1. IT Admin requests health of network
  2. Simple IT bot calls technologies through API
  3. Simple IT bot returns relevant data on the overall health of the network
  4. IT admin takes proper next steps based on IT bot information

Cloud Security VUD

Securing your network is vital to making sure your data stay safe and your end users stay productive. By leveraging Meraki integration with Cisco Umbrella and Advanced Malware Protection your network can stay secure by preventing malicious attacks, keeping your company productive and secure.

 

Technologies Leveraged:
Meraki dashboard, Meraki MX security appliance, Cisco Umbrella, Cisco AMP

DNS & IP-Based Protection

Umbrella uses DNS to stop threats over all ports and protocols — even direct-to-IP connections. It enables IT admins to stop malware before it reaches user endpoints or internal network devices. Even if devices become infected in other ways, Umbrella’s command & control callback blocking prevents connections to the attacker’s servers. An implementation like this enables admins to stop data exfiltration and execution of ransomware encryption.

DNS and IP based.png

 

 

DNS & IP-Based Protection Flow Diagram - Step Details

  1. User/Malware makes a request
  2. Network's DHCP Scope (MX) tells device where to send internal DNS requests and tells Umbrella which domains are internal
  3. DNS Requests
    1. Roaming Client forwards internal DNS requests to domain controller unencrypted
    2. Roaming Client forwards internet DNS Requests to Umbrella global network with encryption and identity embedded
  4. Umbrella responds to Roaming Client the status of the DNS request: malicious risky or safe.
  5. DNS Resolution
    1. Roaming client receives Umbrella Block Page for malicious Content, Receives umbrella proxy for risky destination
    2. Roaming Client receives destination IP for safe destination 

Network Provisioning VUD

Network provisioning takes time, effort and energy from some of your most strained assets given the needs for verifying the configuration is correct and validating/testing your deployment post-installation. Distributed enterprises need the ability to easily scale to new sites and make changes across their environment. The Cisco Meraki dashboard technology lets IT professionals leverage the power of the cloud to deploy remote sites quickly and to make changes across their environment in minutes, giving your IT team valuable time back in their day to work on strategic initiatives and increase IT’s value to the business.

 

Technologies Leveraged:

Meraki Dashboard, Meraki Network Stack, Meraki Plug and Play

Zero-Touch Deployment – Logical Install

Cisco Meraki dashboard allows IT administrators to create and provision networks remotely and before gear is even on site. By leveraging the Cisco Meraki claim system, an IT admin can logically deploy networks and have them ready to test as soon as they are plugged in at a remote site and connect to the internet. See below for an example of how a simple Logical install would be executed.

0_touch_logical_8.png

Zero-Touch Deployment Logical Flow Diagram - Step Details

  1. Business orders Meraki equipment
  2. IT Admin logs into Meraki Dashboard

  3. IT Admin claims order in Meraki Dashboard

  4. IT Admin configures network

Zero-Touch Deployment – Physical Install

Cisco Meraki dashboard allows IT administrators to remotely monitor, test and validate installs as they happen in real time. Leveraging the cloud-based system, devices automatically download the configuration and firmware configured in the logical install. Once devices connect back to the cloud dashboard, IT administrators can view, test and validate the work, installing and validating a network without ever leaving the main office.

0_touch_physical_final.png

Zero-Touch Deployment Physical Install Flow - Step Details

  1. Devices are ready to ship
  2. Local smart hands plug devices into the network

  3. Devices call out to Meraki Dashboard

  4. Devices pull down latest up to date software and configuration

  5. IT Admin monitors install from centralized location through Meraki Dashboard 

  6. IT Admin certifies/validates install

Future VUDs 

  • Spark Call escalation - Technologies Leveraged: Spark Spaces, Mobile spark endpoints, Spark Video endpoints, Meraki Networking
  • Spark Room Meeting follow-up - Technologies leveraged: Webex, Spark Spaces
  • Easy Application Deployment -  Technologies leveraged: Cisco Hyperflex, Cisco CloudCenter, Meraki Networking
  • Microsegmentation -Technologies leveraged: Cisco Identity Services Engine, Meraki Networking, Meraki Systems Manager

 

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