artificial intelligence, Data Center

Meraki Pushes Proactive Troubleshooting at Tech Field Day

There’s value in having a sprinkler system in your house that functions properly and puts out a fire in the kitchen. But there’s even more value in a system that would alert you to a faulty circuit breaker beforehand.

Even better would be a system that would drill down on the malfunctioning circuit breaker and inform you that a) the issue is an overloaded circuit, and b) further advised you to unplug everything on that particular circuit. How cool would that be?

That’s the idea behind Meraki’s “Intelligent RCA” (RCA=Root Cause Analysis). Meraki, a part of the Cisco empire, did a deep dive into Intelligent RCA at Tech Field Day 24.

Intelligent RCA means moving past diagnosis into remediation, and proactively sniffing out potential problems across the entire network stack before they become actual problems that impact your operations.

Meraki does this by harnessing its artificial intelligence to provide contextual data for RCA.

Figure 1. The Meraki dashboard, showing the Timeline view

A live demo showed TFD attendees how it works. In Figure 1, you can see that clients are having authentication problems. If the RCA stopped there, it would be up to the admin to start sleuthing and track down a ton of different information from the networks to the servers to the access points, trying to locate the source of the failures.

Intelligent RCA showed what was the likely problem—an unresponsive server—but also that there may be two other potential causes of the failure (not shown in the screen grab), and recommendations for solving the issue.

The suggested fixes also change based on the other potential problems. This is a reactive approach, which helps. But Meraki wants customers to proactively find and fix problems.

This is where smart alerts comes in. These alerts have a lot of context built into them. Alerts can be configured in a plethora of ways; in the demo, an auto-baseline of the four steps in the authentication cycle was created:

  • Association
  • Authentication
  • DHCP
  • DNS

Once smart alerts are configured, the AI kicks in. If it detects an anomaly, a notification goes out. But the alert that doesn’t just inform you that there’s something wrong, and you’d better start digging.

Figure 2. A full slate of troubleshooting insight is on hand

Instead, Meraki offers guided troubleshooting, as you can see in Figure 2, also from the demo. Not only does it show you the issue, but the possible root cause, recommended next steps to take, and even the most affected access points. Armed with all that knowledge, taking care of the problem—and preventing future ones like it—becomes a relatively simple matter.

Meraki has a gigantic pool of data for its AI to learn from, meaning it will get better and better at its RCA. In all, it’s a compelling offering that will surely appeal to admins who are tired of putting out fires, and would rather find out which circuit breaker is bad, and why.

The entire Meraki TFD presentation is available to stream on YouTube.