Archive for October, 2009

Dashboard’s New Look

We want Meraki Dashboard to be the most functional, intuitive, and beautiful network administration system available. As of today, you can check out Dashboard’s next evolutionary step: a new layout, and new functionality, that organizes Dashboard’s appearance, makes some common tasks easier, and adds power to common pages.

New layout Overview screenshot

The new features include:

  • More of your screen real estate is used for content—for instance, maps are bigger.
  • Go between pages with one click by hovering over the left-hand “tabs.” (They aren’t really tabs any more; we’ve been calling them “pills,” but you can probably come up with something better!)

Hover over tabs

  • Use checkboxes on the access points page to act on many access points at once.
  • Shift-click markers on the maps page to select multiple access points, then drag them as a group. Adding access points to Enterprise Edition custom maps is also easier.

We’ll be adding even more in the coming weeks. The new interface is beta for now—click the “Test drive” link in the upper right to try it out. And as always, let us know what you think!

– Posted by Eddie Kohler

Dashboard's New Look

We want Meraki Dashboard to be the most functional, intuitive, and beautiful network administration system available. As of today, you can check out Dashboard’s next evolutionary step: a new layout, and new functionality, that organizes Dashboard’s appearance, makes some common tasks easier, and adds power to common pages.

New layout Overview screenshot

The new features include:

  • More of your screen real estate is used for content—for instance, maps are bigger.
  • Go between pages with one click by hovering over the left-hand “tabs.” (They aren’t really tabs any more; we’ve been calling them “pills,” but you can probably come up with something better!)

Hover over tabs

  • Use checkboxes on the access points page to act on many access points at once.
  • Shift-click markers on the maps page to select multiple access points, then drag them as a group. Adding access points to Enterprise Edition custom maps is also easier.

We’ll be adding even more in the coming weeks. The new interface is beta for now—click the “Test drive” link in the upper right to try it out. And as always, let us know what you think!

– Posted by Eddie Kohler

Powerful Troubleshooting Tool for Meraki Networks in the Field

Have you ever been out there troubleshooting a wireless issue and wishing you had more diagnostic tools at your disposal?  Check out http://my.meraki.com when you’re wirelessly associated to a Meraki network.  This web site provides useful information about your wireless environment and the specific Meraki access point (gateway or repeater) to which you are connected.

Check out the screen shot below to see all of the cool tools available on the different tabs of my.meraki.com.

The Access Point Status tab reveals basic information about the access point:

–    MAC address
–    Name
–    The network it’s a member of
–    Connectivity to Internet
–    Connectivity to the cloud controller
–    Firmware

The Client Survey Tool tab shows real-time spectrum analysis and client signal strength. The spectrum data comes in handy when you’re researching potential interference from other RF sources, e.g. non-Meraki access points, 2.4 and 5 GHz cordless phones, leaky microwaves, etc. Use the signal strength data to calculate the RF propagation and coverage area of the access point. Perform a quick and easy site survey with these tools by powering the access point with a battery pack:

1.  Wirelessly connect to the Meraki network from a laptop.
2.  Browse to http://my.meraki.com.
3.  Walk around with the battery-powered access point, closely watching the spectrum analysis and signal strength readings in the web browser.

You can even run a quick speed test from the access point to the laptop. In this test, the access point creates and sends data packets to the laptop from itself; these data packets are not coming from the wired network. For example, if you’re experiencing speed problems, but you get blazing speed during this wireless test, then you know the RF side is not contributing to the problem, allowing you to focus on the wired network instead.

The Mesh Neighbors tab displays a table containing data about each of the nearby Meraki access points:

–     Name
–     MAC address
–     Signal Strength
–     Percentage of packets successfully forwarded (transmitted)
–     Percentage of packets successfully received
–     Distance from the neighbor to the access point to which are you connected

If you happen to be looking at a gateway, you can also see the repeaters in its mesh route(s).  This information is very helpful when optimizing network design to maximize coverage and link signal strength.

Finally, the Static IP Configuration tab let’s you configure the IP address settings for the access point.

These tools are very useful when you’re deploying and/or troubleshooting Meraki wireless networks. They can be used to resolve a number of problems, including connectivity, speed, interference, signal quality, and coverage.

What other tools do you think we should include on this page? Let us know!

-Posted by Ahmed Akhtar

mymerakicom_small

Voice and Video aren’t just for your wired network anymore!

Since releasing enhanced voice and video capabilities earlier this year, we have seen growth in the number of video and voice applications running over Meraki wireless networks.  Physical security and voice/data convergence have been implemented broadly over wired networks in the last decade, but providing these applications over wireless networks is a more recent trend.  Our customers have been able to deploy these applications easily and reliably by utilizing a number of features in the Meraki solution:
1.       WMM and Power Save capabilities enable wireless devices to obtain quality of service (QoS) and conserve battery power, respectively, when associated to a Meraki wireless network.  With these features, wireless surveillance cameras and VOIP handsets can stream audio and video content with the best performance available, and at the same time, spend less time docked in battery chargers.
2.       Offline mode allows multimedia devices to continue operating in the LAN, even if connectivity to the Meraki Cloud Controller is not available.  Surveillance cameras can still stream to monitoring stations on the LAN, and mobile handsets can continue to place or receive calls, regardless of network changes outside the LAN.
3.       Bridge mode provides seamless connectivity between wireless and wired devices.  With this feature, surveillance cameras, DVRs, VOIP phones, monitoring stations, and any other networked devices that send or receive multimedia data can discover and connect to each other without any network barriers.
4.       VLAN tagging helps ensure that wireless multimedia traffic gets QoS prioritization over the wired network.  Wireless surveillance cameras and VOIP handsets can associate to Meraki over a dedicated SSID, whose traffic can be VLAN-tagged to get VIP treatment by the upstream switches and routers.
5.       Meraki’s mesh networking technology just works, without any additional configuration.  Meraki access points communicate with neighboring Meraki access points to provide wireless coverage in areas where Ethernet ports are not available.  In this way, an administrator can deploy a video monitoring environment or a wireless VOIP network quickly and easily.

All of these features work in concert to provide a superior multimedia experience over the Meraki wireless network.  As an illustration of this capability, below is a screenshot that one customer sent us, depicting 15 wireless surveillance cameras streaming video across a Meraki network to a DVR on the LAN.

video cameras

We are excited about this convergence in voice, video, and data over the wireless LAN, and we will continue to invest in features that make this convergence easier and more reliable for enterprise customers.

-Posted by Jed Lau

Voice and Video aren't just for your wired network anymore!

Since releasing enhanced voice and video capabilities earlier this year, we have seen growth in the number of video and voice applications running over Meraki wireless networks.  Physical security and voice/data convergence have been implemented broadly over wired networks in the last decade, but providing these applications over wireless networks is a more recent trend.  Our customers have been able to deploy these applications easily and reliably by utilizing a number of features in the Meraki solution:
1.       WMM and Power Save capabilities enable wireless devices to obtain quality of service (QoS) and conserve battery power, respectively, when associated to a Meraki wireless network.  With these features, wireless surveillance cameras and VOIP handsets can stream audio and video content with the best performance available, and at the same time, spend less time docked in battery chargers.
2.       Offline mode allows multimedia devices to continue operating in the LAN, even if connectivity to the Meraki Cloud Controller is not available.  Surveillance cameras can still stream to monitoring stations on the LAN, and mobile handsets can continue to place or receive calls, regardless of network changes outside the LAN.
3.       Bridge mode provides seamless connectivity between wireless and wired devices.  With this feature, surveillance cameras, DVRs, VOIP phones, monitoring stations, and any other networked devices that send or receive multimedia data can discover and connect to each other without any network barriers.
4.       VLAN tagging helps ensure that wireless multimedia traffic gets QoS prioritization over the wired network.  Wireless surveillance cameras and VOIP handsets can associate to Meraki over a dedicated SSID, whose traffic can be VLAN-tagged to get VIP treatment by the upstream switches and routers.
5.       Meraki’s mesh networking technology just works, without any additional configuration.  Meraki access points communicate with neighboring Meraki access points to provide wireless coverage in areas where Ethernet ports are not available.  In this way, an administrator can deploy a video monitoring environment or a wireless VOIP network quickly and easily.

All of these features work in concert to provide a superior multimedia experience over the Meraki wireless network.  As an illustration of this capability, below is a screenshot that one customer sent us, depicting 15 wireless surveillance cameras streaming video across a Meraki network to a DVR on the LAN.

video cameras

We are excited about this convergence in voice, video, and data over the wireless LAN, and we will continue to invest in features that make this convergence easier and more reliable for enterprise customers.

-Posted by Jed Lau

How to run an 802.1X authentication test on your Meraki APs

WPA-Enterprise encryption with 802.1X authentication is the method of choice for providing secure access in an Enterprise WLAN environment.  Unfortunately it’s also notoriously tricky to configure, with a range of possible configuration issues involving the three key players in the system (client devices, access points, and the RADIUS authentication server itself).

We’re pleased to announce a handy diagnostic tool in our Enterprise Cloud Controller which helps identify many problems with a custom 802.1X setup.

After configuring your RADIUS server for 802.1X, you now have the option of testing your setup directly from Meraki Dashboard:

blog_post_test_setup-1gwEnter the username and password for a test user and click the Test button. The system initiates a test from each of your Access Points to your RADIUS server using 802.1X authentication with PEAP and MS-CHAPv2. Each AP in the network is individually tested; this enables us to detect network issues or RADIUS server configuration problems that might affect only a few of your APs.

If all goes well, you’ll see results like this:

blog_post_test_passed_gw

(In the example above one AP is shown as “unreachable”, meaning that it was powered off and was therefore not tested. This is common for example if your network has one or two spare APs which are not normally kept powered on.)

If there are test failures, however, you’ll see results like these:

blog_post_test_failed_gw

In this example there was a timeout while attempting to reach the server from one out of five APs tested. This error often results from forgetting to add an AP’s IP address to the whitelist on your RADIUS server, and it’s usually a very difficult error to discover and debug.

We think this is a useful tool that makes it super easy to troubleshoot the security of your WLAN.  In addition, this tool provides peace of mind that each AP can authenticate users correctly.  Automated testing is especially valuable in large, 100+ AP environments, where testing each AP manually could literally take days.

We look forward to hearing your feedback about it!

-Posted by Ben Chambers

Client Device Checkboxes

Meraki network admins can now block or whitelist many client devices in one easy step.  Go to the usage page, select some checkboxes, and select Actions > Whitelist (or Block, or Normal).

Access control options on the usage list

Want to block all Apple devices?  Try searching for “mfr:apple”, then Select: All and Block.  Or shift-click to select many checkboxes at once.  Many of our customers have requested better tools for managing many client devices; we think this is another great step in that direction.

Enterprise customers get an additional feature: the usage graph shows you how much the checked clients have transferred over time.

Highlighting checked usage

Want more features?  Make a wish!

Meraki lets you web surf like a rock star… just ask Dave Matthews, Beyonce and the Eagles!

Sometimes we come across a Meraki customer with a really cool story to tell, where they have found a particularly unique deployment need to fill with a Meraki network that does a great job of showcasing the capabilities and value proposition of the Meraki solution.

One of these customers is Allen Cook, owner of TourTechSupport, Inc., a unique business that provides portable IT systems to touring musicians.  When Dave Matthews, Beyonce, the Eagles, and the Kings of Leon need wireless internet for their tours, they call TourTechSupport, and then Allen Cook sends Meraki.

DMBThe life of a touring rock musician is complicated, hectic, and occasionally downright chaotic.  When the talent hits the stage, everything has to be working seamlessly to provide the paying fans with adrenaline-stoking lifetime memories.  The behind-the-scenes operations of tours are complex. Crew, staff, and band members need phone and internet access and have had to rent phone lines, voicemail, extension dialing, call-waiting and Internet access from the venues they played.  In every new city, there were new phone numbers to remember, new network connections to configure, and little control in restricting network access.  The costs – and the headaches – added up quickly.

Cook saw a need, and set out to fill it. His company, TourTechSupport, created an IT rack system that touring professionals can take with them on the road— including wireless routers, access points, printers and other business communication essentials. He knew that the system had to be easy to launch at each new venue, so that any crew member on the tour can set it up. “With Meraki, I can support my clients anywhere in the world, because I can monitor networks remotely…In the rare case of equipment failure, replacement components can be on-site quickly and untrained staff can make the swap,” Cook says.  Beyond data communication, he also wanted to include VoIP, so that tours could use telephone numbers that would remain the same regardless of their geographic location, as well as provide place shifting technology to meet demand for leisure time entertainment.

Cook examined multiple wireless solutions, but found most to be hard to deploy, inconsistent and often very expensive.  He considered options from EnGenious and Ubiquity, but found them less flexible, more expensive and often complicated.

Then Cook called upon Meraki. By including 5 or 10 Meraki Outdoors with the IT rack, all a crew member had to do was establish an internet connection, strategically place the Meraki access points, power-up and voila: high-quality, access controlled WiFi in just minutes.  Portability and aesthetics are also important.  Meraki repeaters are, “smaller and slicker than anything else on the market,” he says.

The systems from TourTechSupport are used for everything from coordinating where the crew members stay each night, to providing VoIP phone service, to entertaining the entertainers. Controlling access into and across the networks is crucial. “We frown on open networks. If a tour manager’s computer is on an open network, anyone with a basic knowledge has access to the tour budget, housing schedule and other confidential information,” Cook said. Meraki’s security features keep the network strictly private.

Beyonce

TourTech’s partnership with The Dave Matthews Band is a great example of how Meraki makes touring a better experience. The Dave Matthews Band has 50 crew members on a nearly endless touring schedule. They tour with 13 trucks and 9 buses. Matthews is an outspoken activist on green issues, as well. His tour’s system includes a Meraki Solar that extends the WiFi signal beyond the walls of the main structure.  “Many venues do not have accommodations that allow the entire crew ample work and rest space,” Cook explains. “This used to mean that Ethernet and power cables needed to be run between the main facility and auxiliary accommodations. Now, they simply place a Meraki Outdoor at the main facility and a Meraki Solar by each outlying facility—Internet and communication across the entire compound.”

The Beyonce tour operates without a dedicated IT technician on the road. “We used their tour as our ultimate test for the ease-of-use of a system,” Cook said. “If we don’t get any calls for support, we know we have built an IT rack that meets our user-friendly requirements.” The only support call he’s received so far from the Beyonce tour ended up being an issue with a crew member’s laptop; the IT rack and the mesh were working perfectly.

Saving his clients money and improving their efficiency is not just Cook’s livelihood, but his passion. Thanks to Allen for letting us share his story!  Stay tuned for more posts in the future as we find other cool and unusual things that our customers are doing with Meraki networks…

-Posted by Greg Williams