Automate your networks using the Meraki API

Even if Cisco Meraki devices are super simple and easy to work with, when you’re working with many networks and that you have to keep doing those pesky redundant tasks… things can certainly get annoying. That’s where the Meraki API comes in to save the day.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the essentials of automating your Cisco Meraki networks using the Meraki Dashboard API.

Table of Contents

What are the Meraki APIs?

The APIs are the tool used to interact with Meraki for any kind of automation. So before you get started with automation, you’ll need to have an understanding of what the Meraki APIs are.

If you don’t know much about the APIs just yet, we recommend you check out this article to get a quick overview.

What can you automate?

When it comes to the APIs, the only limit is your imagination! (Besides the availability of API touchpoints 😄).

Despite being miles ahead of the rest in the API game, Meraki has yet not made every single aspect of the dashboard accessible through APIs.

Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty you can do with what’s available! Let’s take a look at some of the common use cases we’ve seen for network automation.

Bulk Provisioning

Meraki does have a native bulk creation tool you can check out here. Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t enable you to deploy combined networks and isn’t too flexible, which means in many cases the native tool won’t be able to meet your needs – for instance, if you have more than one type of device on your network.

If you’d like to deploy multiple networks simultaneously, you can create a script that uses the Meraki dashboard API to help you with that.

Batch Configuration

If you want to push multiple configuration changes across multiple networks, there’s currently no easy way to do so on the Meraki dashboard.

You can use the Meraki templates, but it’s realistically unlikely that all your networks share the same configuration. Once you’ve bound a network to a template on Meraki, it doesn’t leave you with much flexibility for individual changes.

Fortunately, the Meraki dashboard API gives you a way to manage this. Through the APIs, you can change configurations across unique networks and push these changes at will.

Advanced Monitoring

The Meraki dashboard API can help you uplevel Meraki’s monitoring capabilities. For instance, the Meraki dashboard only allows you to see the devices and clients within each individual network.

What if you wanted to aggregate all the information from one (or multiple) orgs in the same place? The APIs  are also there to help you, as they provide great benefits when it comes to troubleshooting.

The Meraki dashboard can be limited because it only allows you to search through MAC addresses, but you can use the APIs to parse through your networks using other information such as SSIDs or IP addresses.

Audit and Compliance

And since we’re talking about troubleshooting, what if you could prevent some of those network incidents from ever even happening?

With the Meraki dashboard API, you can create systems to be notified whenever changes have been made to your networks that don’t comply with your defined golden rules. This allows you to stay ahead of the curve with greater network visibility!

How to get started with Network Automation in Meraki

Now that you know about some of the common challenges that you can overcome using network automation and the Meraki APIs, let’s examine how you can get started with the process.

At the core of automation is the Meraki dashboard API. You’ll definitely want to go over this documentation if you already haven’t as it outlines the touchpoints and how they work.

There’s multiple ways to go about the process, if you feel comfortable with programming then you can even write your own Python scripts. There’s plenty of inspiration available on Github!

Postman Meraki API Documentation

Postman is an enormously popular tool for anything related to the Meraki APIs. They have a great library of readily available tools to get you started on your automation journey. You can also view this article on Cisco’s website which explains in more detail how to get started with this tool.

Although the available documentation on Cisco Meraki Network Automation is very thorough, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into some challenges as every case is unique.

Be sure to check out the Cisco Meraki subreddit and community forum if you have any questions, and to see if others have run into similar problems!

Getting started by partnering with specialized companies

The need for automating network management steadily increases as a network infrastructure scales and becomes more sophisticated. Today we see network automation as an inevitability, rather than a choice.

When you automate your Cisco Meraki networks, it is certainly possible to go on the mission alone. Although you do need to ask yourself if doing so is the best use of your time and focus. Especially when you have better options.

In-house vs outsourced automation

Building, testing and maintaining API scripts is harder than it looks, which is why Cisco Meraki has an enormous ecosystem of API partners dedicated to building solutions on top of what they already offer. You can check them all out on the Meraki Marketplace.

Outsourced automation is certainly the way to go if you have a very complex use case and aren’t an expert writing your own programs.

The evolving landscape of the Meraki platform and API versions can make it difficult to keep up with the constant change, which is yet another reason for going with Meraki Partners.

Using out of the box solutions

Even when you can afford to do it yourself, often the need for network automation is simply one that cannot wait.

By partnering with experts and utilizing their out of the box solutions, you can ensure you stay on track with your network management. There’s also an added bonus of having peace of mind that your automation process will go smoothly.

Developing bespoke solutions

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the Meraki Marketplace, there are plenty of solution providers out there who can custom build something specifically for your use case.

As every organization runs into challenges unique to them, it’s not uncommon to need bespoke solutions that solve specific problems.

Why partnering with Boundless Digital may be the best choice for you

With over 7 years of experience working with the Meraki APIs, Boundless Digital has seen it all when it comes to automating Meraki Networks.

Our turnkey network automation platform allows you to do all the tasks mentioned above and much more. The solution allows you to easily harness the power of automation while also enabling you to build customized workflows, templates and dashboards to meet all your Meraki needs!

What we’ve built is the result of thousands of interactions with Meraki customers. Yet to this day we constantly come across new problems which require new solutions. This is why we also work to develop bespoke solutions for unique situations which can only be solved through APIs.

If automation sounds like something you can benefit from, reach out to us.

Conclusion

I hope after reading this you’ve taken a few more steps towards your journey of Network Automation.

The challenges you’re facing might seem daunting at first, but don’t be discouraged. All the automation will be worth the investment, we promise.

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