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Cisco has announced a relaunch of its enterprise mobility management (EMM) offering, Meraki Systems Manager. Judging by our analyst inquiries, interest in Cisco's EMM management offering has been somewhat limited over recent years. With the relaunch, Cisco is not only introducing new technology capabilities but also making efforts to better position itself in what is a very competitive market.

The relaunch of Meraki Systems Manager is certainly a step in the right direction for Cisco

In redeveloping and relaunching Meraki Systems Manager, Cisco has focused on developing an EMM solution that is easier to configure and more intuitive to use. Meraki Systems Manager is deployed solely via the cloud and offers native network integration – something that may appeal to organizations that have existing investments in Cisco infrastructure components. Other new capabilities include unified endpoint management for all the major operating systems, including iOS, Android, Windows (Phone, Win10, MS Server), macOS, and Chrome.

The EMM market has been predominantly driven by device management capabilities. However, it will be mobile apps and mobile content management that will drive new growth. This will be in response to organizations adopting a more strategic approach to mobility – one that leverages mobile apps and content to transform business processes and activities. Cisco has recognized this and advanced its mobile application management (MAM), mobile content management (MCM), and mobile identity capabilities in response. Most significant is how Meraki Systems Manager can make the provision and utilization of mobile apps and content easier for both users and system administrators. Systems Manager generates unique certificates for each enrolled device to securely authenticate to the cloud for device management purposes. With the network integration, Systems Manager can use that same certificate to generate unique certificates for devices in order for them to connect to Wi-Fi and VPN. In doing this, the root certificate is shared with the networking infrastructure for authentication onto the network. This native network integration is relevant for both BYOD and CYO strategies. Mobile identity is also context-aware, which means that in the event that a device violates security policies, remediation actions can be undertaken instantly.

Additional functionality introduced includes support for Android Enterprise (formerly Google for Work), with Cisco now fully certified against all Android Enterprise protocols. Cisco has also simplified the onboarding process and introduced managed app config, which enables administrators to push predefined app configurations to mobile apps distributed to users. This type of capability is very useful for administrators because apps can be easily configured en masse with user, device, and custom attributes. The licensing model for the updated solution has also been simplified. No tiers exist – one license provides users with everything. No additional support costs are incurred as these are included within the license cost.

While not a revolution in the realm of EMM, the relaunch of Meraki Systems Manager is certainly a step in the right direction for Cisco. The clean interface, unified endpoint management capabilities, and managed app config capabilities will be of interest to enterprises exploring the adoption of EMM solutions. Ovum recommends that Cisco continues to invest in furthering app management capabilities. Mobile apps represent a key area of interest for organizations looking to accelerate enterprise mobility strategies to deliver against wider digital transformation objectives, so capability that supports these efforts will be of increased importance.


Further reading

2017 Trends to Watch: Security, IT0022-000808 (October 2016)

2017 Trends to Watch: Enterprise Mobility, IT0021-000212 (December 2016)

How-To Guide: Ensuring a Successful Enterprise Mobility Management Implementation: Security, IT0021-000188 (August 2016)

Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a Mobile Workspace Service Provider in Europe, 2016, TE0005-00077 (March 2016)


Adam Holtby, Research Analyst, Enterprise Mobility and Productivity

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