How a lost prototype led to a new Meraki product?

Todd Nightingale, the senior vice president and GM of Cisco Meraki, was in trouble 18 months ago. Meraki’s prized prototype was missing from the office.

Nightingale made sure to confirm this was not one of those intentional leaks to the press. Unfortunately, this was lost and it was even harder to track down through Wi-Fi analytics.

“We found out it was in a room (through Wi-Fi analytics). But when we looked in the room it was not there,” he said.

The plan was not to panic too much and do a complete scrub of the premises. That took two days only to conclude the prototype was removed on purpose. “It was two days of total chaos,” he added.

Todd Nightingale
Todd Nightingale

This led to the decision to install surveillance cameras throughout the Meraki lab. “It was a matter of protecting our own IP,” Nightingale said.

After some consultation, Nightingale was presented with two solutions. The first was a super sophisticated camera with DVR capabilities. The only down side to this solution was that it required two weeks of training. “That did not sound like the Meraki way,” according to Nightingale.

Option No. 2, was a consumer camera that was basically a hyped-up baby monitor. On the good side, this product did not come with any sort of training. It also did not come with any enterprise class features it could use.

Left with little choice, Nightingale decided to build a new camera from scratch. That required approval from Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins. Robbins asked Nightingale if he really wanted to go back into the camera business again (Remember the PureDigital acquisition?).

It was turning into not being a great day.

But Nightingale thought the moment to act was now with the state of technology today and the Internet of Things driving a big need to make physically security more simple. His decision turned into a brand new product for Meraki. The MV Security Cameras featuring wireless access points for high-density deployments such as a lab. This new product can be monitored from a single Web-based dashboard. This product, Nightingale said, does not need any added systems for recording or software as its run completely in the cloud. Storage is right on the camera and that footage gets uploaded and can be managed all in the cloud. They even created a camera for outside use.

“You can look at the dashboard and get a four-camera display. The product upgrades itself through the cloud and it does not need any power. There is no software and runs on a browser,” he said.

And, Meraki enables users to gain valuable analytics from the camera with frame-by-frame information. For example, the camera’s motion search feature can highlight only things that move in the footage captured. It can zoom in on that part of the video all through the cloud.

If Meraki had this product in place they would have known what happened to its prized prototype. But in the end, Meraki turned a disaster into a new product offering for the channel.

Two quick hits before I go.  BitTitan announced the expansion of its executive team with the appointment of Mark Kirstein as its new VP of Product. Kirstein will oversee BitTitan’s product team, comprised of the product management, data science, user experience, and knowledge management divisions. He spent two decades in the channel with companies such as Zebra Technologies, Motorola Solutions and Antenna Software..

Freeman Audio Visual Canada announce the appointment of Richard Purcell to regional director of  strategic partnerships for Western Canada.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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