Archive for October, 2012

Free Networking Gear for Startups Launches Today

At Meraki, we love getting our gear into people’s hands. We think we make a pretty awesome product and once people get a taste of how easy to use Meraki is, they become our biggest fans.

Our latest greatest idea is to get our gear into the offices of the hottest, most promising startups through our Meraki Startup Kit – a complete standalone set of networking hardware: two of our highest performance wireless access points, a high-throughput security appliance, and a 24 port switch with Power-over-Ethernet. With a value of over $15,000 – we have a limited number of Meraki Startup Kits, but they are entirely free and include 5 year licenses for qualifying startups.

The Meraki Startup Kit is intended to give small companies a helping hand with their network infrastructure and a way for us to share our success with the next generation of disruptive startups.

As part of our beta release, two startups have already received their Meraki Startup Kits and are enjoying the ease of use with Meraki’s dashboard management.

San Francisco-based Copious – “a social marketplace to buy and sell the things you love” – was the first company to receive a Meraki Startup Kit. With 17 employees and a recent round of Series A funding, Copious was outgrowing its existing networking setup, so getting the opportunity to implement a Meraki network for free was perfectly timed.

For vline, a cloud video conferencing platform for developers, the Meraki Startup Kit will provide a solid office network foundation as the company develops its tools and platform for a wider public release. Ben Strong, vline’s CEO, commented that “Meraki access points are great for video conferencing. Much better than all the other ones we’ve tried.” As vline grows into its Palo Alto office, the Meraki network is an ideal networking solution to support the team.

Today we’re excited to open up the applications to the greater startup community. Meraki hardware is high quality, easy to set up, and low maintenance – the perfect infrastructure for startups relying on rock-solid Internet connections to develop, converse, and deploy in the cloud.

To see if your company would be a good fit for our program, take a look at the requirements and fill out the application here: www.meraki.com/startupkit.

Help is just a click away

Help built in to the Meraki dashboard

At Meraki we’re always looking for ways to refine our dashboard and make life easier for our customers. Enhancements aren’t just about adding great product features, but can also be about improving the workflow associated with managing your estate of Meraki gear.

Across probably hundreds of applications, one place that often isn’t very helpful are the built-in help systems. Typically they look like an afterthought and often one can find what’s needed faster with a Google search.

We want every page of the Meraki dashboard to add value, and that includes the Help menu. So let’s take a brief look at what’s there and what’s been added recently.

Get Help

From this page, you can search our comprehensive knowledge base. Just start typing and relevant suggestions will automatically appear. It’s worth exploring as there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips, including detailed step-by-step guides covering configuration, monitoring, and troubleshooting your network.

 

Integrated knowledge base with search

Manage Cases

We’ve just added a handy new menu item where you can track and manage any open support cases you have, or submit a new case. If you prefer to speak with someone over the phone, you’ll find contact information there too. Thorough case details are displayed, including the engineer working the case as well as comprehensive historical notes. You can even correspond on a case directly in the dashboard, without having to pick up the phone, making the whole process a lot speedier, more personal, and more interactive.

Integrated support case management

 

Learn about new Features

Last, but certainly not least, you can find a record of new features we’ve added across our portfolio over the past year. We always strive to ensure you hear about these new features as soon as they’re announced, but it’s also useful to have a historical record so that you don’t miss anything we’ve added which may be of use in your network. You’ll see, for example, that the case management we covered above was announced back in mid-September. Did you know it had been added?

 

Learn about new features right within the dashboard

 

We’ve always been committed to providing great service to our customers, so we’re constantly looking for ways to make the dashboard better and improve your workflow. If you’re itching to see us implement a particular feature, or have a great idea you’d like us bring to life, just make a wish by using the box at the bottom of every page in the dashboard. We’re always listening, and there’s nothing like making a customer’s wish come true.

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A look inside: Meraki intrusion detection

With millions of packets flowing across the network every day, how do you spot potentially harmful traffic? Simple visibility of all traffic isn’t practical since the sheer volume is far beyond what a human could process. An intrusion detection tool, however, can identify malicious activity, categorize potential threats, facilitate reporting, and alert a network administrator when necessary.

Integrated Snort technology

The latest software update for the MX Security Appliances now includes IDS capabilities. We’ve taken Sourcefire’s Snort engine, the industry standard in network intrusion detection, and made it accessible to network administrators everywhere through the Meraki dashboard.

Snort IDS technology has been highly respected in the security community for nearly 15 years. It’s open source, so it’s continually tested, worked-on, and refined by a broad community of security professionals. Most importantly, in a world where new security threats emerge on a daily basis, the open nature of the platform means new threats are identified and added into the engine far more quickly than a handful of developers working in a closed proprietary system could hope to achieve.

 
 
Here’s a peek into how the MX’s IDS looks in the Meraki dashboard:

IDS timeline viewed by client

 

Intuitive, organization-wide reporting

When MXs receive their scheduled over-the-cloud upgrade over the next several weeks, network administrators will find a new reporting tool: Organization > Security report. Note this requires an Advanced Security license for the MX. This provides an intuitive GUI to the Snort engine, enabling organization-wide threat status to be established at a glance. Information is presented in real-time, with a configurable historical view that allows admins to quickly identify the regularity with which threats are being seen. Admins can search their organization by:

  • Threat signature
  • Network
  • Client
  • Source and/or destination IP

For large, distributed networks, the MX’s organization-wide reporting eliminates the need to log in to the security appliance at every site and check the IDS status at each. Potential security threats are ranked and summarized by severity, with details presented in a timeline, a pie chart, and in summary tables. For those digging for even more information, the complete list of events is also shown. The Snort Signature ID links to a detailed description, including suggested actions to remediate the threat. Intrusion Detection typically displays many false positives and negatives, so a detailed description helps the administrator to focus their energy on addressing the real threats as they emerge.

 

IDS event log


 
What was once only available to highly trained and expensive security experts can now be seen and analyzed with a few clicks of a mouse. Meraki’s IDS implementation is the latest example of how we’re revolutionizing the world of network administration and helping our customers achieve more with their precious IT resources.

You can learn more about Meraki’s Intrusion Detection and its role in our next-generation firewall here.

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Meraki makes a splash at IPEXPO in London

The Meraki team has almost recovered from two exciting days at this year’s IPEXPO at Earls Court in London. IPEXPO is the UK’s premier event covering IP Networking, Virtualization, Cloud, Wireless, Storage and Security, so with a line-up like that you can be sure it’s a packed venue with a vast array of exhibitors.

Our stand welcomed several hundred visitors, attracted by the bold stand design, regular dashboard demos and – of course – the glamorous Meraki gang, some of whom you can see relaxing at the end of day 1 here…

 

On day 1 we also presented at one of the breakout seminars, providing attendees an opportunity to hear how one large retail customer has benefited from Meraki’s simplified approach to networking. Perhaps not surprisingly, the customer has been finding great value in the PCI reporting tool built in to every Meraki wireless network. Also with a network containing over 550 stores, the ability to synchronize configurations from one site to another has proven very useful, facilitating at-a-glance config checking and expansion to new locations with a couple of clicks of the mouse.

We were delighted to receive very positive feedback across the two days, with visitors to our stand really appreciating the opportunity to speak directly to our technical staff, but also to hear complex technologies explained in clear language they could understand. We just don’t do weighty config documentation and death by slides at Meraki. The emphasis is on an open dialogue and real-time demos of our product in action, and our approach clearly resonated well. Here’s just one piece of feedback we were delighted to see online.

 

 

We do hope you can make it along to one of the many events we attend as we love meeting our customers and like-minded enthusiasts. You can find comprehensive details on where to see catch us on our events page. We’re looking forward to meeting you!

See us in London at IPEXPO 2012

We’ll be at IPEXPO at Earls Court in London for the next 2 days. If you’re coming to the conference, be sure to catch our seminar on Thursday at 13:50 in the Wireless and Campus Networks Theatre.

You can also stop by to see the Meraki team at Stand B56 for a 1-on-1 demo and a free t-shirt. Check out our team in London getting ready for the show:

Meraki partners earn top marks in CMNA technical training

We’re building more than just great products at Meraki—we’re also building a great community of reseller partners that can provide our customers with solutions for their IT challenges. In the past few months alone, Meraki has trained over one hundred sales engineers at partner organizations through our Certified Meraki Networking Associate (CMNA) program. We’ve held sessions in cities across the US and in our London office, and we’re continuing to look for ways to expand the program and reach even more of our partners.

Over the course of the CMNA program, pre-sales engineers get a chance to explore all four Meraki product lines: MX security appliances, MS switches, MR wireless access points, and Systems Manager mobile device management. Hands-on lab sessions cover the real-world scenarios involved in deploying a next-generation branch network for a typical company, so engineers leave with the experience and confidence to recommend and deploy Meraki networks for their customers. We’ve designed the class to be a refreshing change from typical classroom-style training, and we’ve even built in a little fun.

The labs also provide the perfect setting to showcase the tight integration among the Meraki product lines and the benefits of cloud management via the Meraki Dashboard. Participants often come into the sessions knowing only about Meraki’s wireless LAN capabilities, so it’s always fun to see their excitement as they come to understand the full potential in Meraki’s entire suite of products for edge networks.

For now, we’re keeping the CMNA sessions quite small to give participants the best possible hands-on experience and attention. Looking ahead though, we’ll be rolling out more courses and new ways to scale out training program to touch more of our partner community.

Take a look at the classroom during a recent session:

CMNA 1

CMNA 2

CMNA 3

Meraki WiFi at Basho’s RICON 2012

Providing wireless access for hundreds of attendees can add a ton of work and expense to planning an event. Meraki is here to help! Through our Free Event WiFi program, we provide Meraki equipment for certain kinds of events at no cost to the organizers. While we typically support small events like Startup Weekends or Hackathons, we can make exceptions when our customers are working on something particularly cool.

When Basho Technologies reached out to us last month to talk about the WiFi at their developer conference, we were more than happy to make it work.  Earlier this week, Meraki provided the network gear for Basho’s RICON 2012, a two-day conference dedicated to Riak, developers, and the future of distributed systems in production. Attendees got a chance to hear speakers from Twitter, Google, and Salesforce.com among others, and they had no trouble transferring a couple hundred gigabytes of data over the WiFi network in just a few days.

Here are a few twitter reviews:

RICON tweet 3

RICON tweet 1

RICON tweet 2

We also sent Mike, one of our engineers, to attend the conference and hang out with the Basho folks.  Here is a totally candid picture.

RICON Mike

We loved being a part of RICON 2012—especially the afterparty. If your event is in need of reliable WiFi, let us know!

 

Introducing the MX60W, the Z1, and our latest software update

Over the past year, our MX team has been on a roll, launching new models and tons of new features on the product family. Today, we’re excited to announce we’re adding even more:

  • MX60W, a new hardware model with integrated WiFi
  • Intrusion detection (IDS) based on the industry’s leading detection engine, Snort
  • Bonjour Gateway, selectively bridging Apple Bonjour services across subnets
  • Enhancements to our Traffic Shaper, including finer-grained Layer 7 application analysis
  • A bunch of other enhancements, including dual WAN links for MX60 and MX60W, and more

We’re also announcing another new product, the Z1 Cloud Managed Teleworker Gateway, bringing seamless connectivity to teleworker and remote users.

MX60W — all in one wireless, Ethernet, and security

The newest member of the MX family, the MX60W brings integrated 802.11n WiFi connectivity in an affordable, compact, and easy to manage device. The MX60W is a complete access and security solution for small branches, providing enterprise wired and wireless connectivity, a next generation firewall, site-to-site Auto VPN, content filtering, and intrusion detection (IDS).

MX60W Cloud Managed Security Appliance with integrated WiFi

Intrusion detection (IDS)

We’ve integrated the industry’s most robust intrusion detection engine, Sourcefire’s Snort. Featuring signature, protocol, and anomaly-based inspection, IDS delivers iron-clad security, monitored and managed through the Meraki dashboard. An organization-level security report lets administrators monitor threats even in highly distributed, multi-site networks.

Bonjour gateway

An integrated Bonjour gateway enables seamless support of Apple TVs, printers, AirPlay mirroring, and any other Bonjour server device. Rather than flooding the whole network with Bonjour traffic, the MX’s Bonjour gateway selective bridges the services you choose across desired subnets, enabling scalable support of Bonjour devices.

Enhancements to Traffic Shaper

Our integrated Layer 7 Traffic Shaper brings powerful insight into network activity at the application layer — and now we’re making it even better. We’ve redesigned the classification engine to give you more application insight and report web browsing activity.

There’s more

We’re also including other enhancements to the MX family, such as dual WAN ports on the MX60 and MX60W, an enhanced UI for per-port VLAN settings, and performance enhancements for SFP+ accessories.

Z1 Cloud Managed Teleworker Gateway

The Z1 integrates networking, security, and high speed wired and wireless access in a compact and silent design. We’ve designed and built it in an entirely new form factor, a sleek, low profile design. Inside, the Z1 includes dual-band, dual-concurrent 802.11n WiFi (with 2×2 MIMO for a 600 Mbps combined radio rate) and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. It also includes Meraki’s site-to-site Auto VPN, enabling seamless connectivity to an organization’s headquarters and branches. Of course, the Z1 is managed via the cloud, and its zero-touch provisioning allows IT organizations to extend corporate access to remote users without added complexity.

Z1 Cloud Managed Teleworker Gateway

We’ll be taking a more in-depth look at these releases, including a hands-on view of the new hardware and deeper dives into some of the new software features. Stay tuned!

A Peek Inside Meraki: Birthdays

Here at the Meraki office, we never pass up on a reason to party. At the end of every month, the whole company takes a break to an afternoon treat and wish a happy birthday to everyone who recently celebrated another year. Often we snack on cupcakes or cookies baked by one of our own, but for September, we had a huge spread of unique, gourmet mochi from Simply Mochi.

Here’s a look at September’s birthday party:

Mochi 1

Mochi 2

Mochi 3

Mochi 4

Meraki is hiring — maybe next month we’ll be celebrating your birthday too!

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