Archive for January, 2013

Creating a BYOD Revolution at Rockwall ISD

Chris Gasaway, Director of Technology at Rockwall ISD, joined us on January 29th to share his experiences creating a secure network to support the growing trend of BYOD with students and faculty/staff.  Rockwall ISD is an expanding school district just outside of Dallas, Texas with 2 high schools, 3 middle schools, and 12 elementary schools.

The district is comprised of families who are extremely mobile device friendly and expect the best in technology for their children.  While the district has over 6,000 computers and over 4,000 iPads available for use in the schools, Chris wanted an environment where students could bring their own personal devices and connect to the school’s network.

Taking advantage of the numerous SSIDs, Chris created custom experiences depending on user type, shaping traffic and setting firewall rules as needed.  In a few short mouse clicks, not only was the network secure and CIPA-compliant, but he can also make changes as needed based on new requirements or challenges.  Chris now has deep, granular visibility into the devices, users, and applications on his network, with the ability to troubleshoot on the fly.

Check out the video from the webinar – see how Chris created a BYOD revolution at Rockwall ISD, encouraging the explosion of personal devices within the school system, while still maintaining control and network security.

Bett 2013: Off to a great start!

The Meraki booth is filled with friendly, helpful staff from our London office as well as our San Francisco headquarters. If you’re in the neighbourhood at the ExCeL Centre, pop by stand E172 and get a hands-on look at how Meraki can revolutionize the network at your school.

And if you can’t make it there in person, but want to keep track of our adventures in London, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where we’ll be posting updates from the show over the next few days.

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Translate deep network visibility into fine-grained control

With our latest wireless release, Meraki’s group policies got a powerful boost. As you know, group policies are used to create bandwidth, VLAN, splash page, and Layer 3 firewall rules that can be pushed out to groups of users and devices, even automatically based on device type (i.e., iPads vs. iPhones). Now, Layer 7 firewall and traffic shaping rules can also be deployed.

For the first time, granular Layer 7 control can be applied at the individual client and group level.  The surgical precision now available to shape the traffic flowing on your network can’t be overstated.

Let’s take two examples — the first where we apply policies to a specific device; the second where we apply policies automatically based on device type.  For the first example, we want to prioritize our CEO’s traffic, and we can create a policy to do so.  Our policy grants unlimited bandwidth for many types of traffic, such as email, VoIP, video conferencing, and even social web apps like Facebook or Flickr. It also sets QoS priority via DSCP tagging in the event of network saturation.

A single group policy prioritizes several application categories.

Next, we need to apply our policy specifically to the CEO’s device.  To do so, we first search for his laptop and select it:

Finding our CEO’s laptop is easy using Meraki’s real-time search tool.

Once selected, we click “Apply policy,” and choose our recently created policy from a list (note: we even have the flexibility to assign our policy based on which SSID our CEO is connected to):

Applying our group policy to a specific device — in this case, our CEO’s.

And that’s it!  We now have a tailored policy that prioritizes certain applications for our CEO, and which is only applied to his device.

For the second example, let’s create a single group policy that blocks all P2P traffic, throttles several specific video applications and websites, and prioritizes VoIP — and apply this policy automatically to all Windows PCs that connect to the network.  First, we create our policy:

A single group policy shaping P2P, video, and VoIP/videoconferencing traffic.

Next, we enable assignment of group policies based on device type, select Windows devices to apply the policy to, and then select our new policy from a list:

Applying a group policy automatically to all Windows PCs connecting to our network.

And that’s it!  Now we have a single policy shaping P2P, specific video, and VoIP traffic that will automatically apply to any Windows device that connects to our wireless LAN.

We’re excited about the integration of Layer 7 visibility into group policies, and best of all, it’s only one of the new features now available to customers through our new wireless release.  So please check it out and let us know what you think…we’re listening!

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Entrepreneur First: How important is WiFi to your startup?

Earlier this week we introduced you to Entrepreneur First and our efforts to support their work with London startups. Now here’s a chance to hear directly from the founders and team members of those startups as they talk about the importance of connectivity for their projects. Spoiler alert: it’s very important.

And if you’re working at a startup stateside, don’t forget that you can apply for a Startup Kit to have Meraki solve your WiFi problems for free.

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Startup Kit Spotlight: Clutch Mobile

Clutch Mobile is a San Mateo-based company that provides advanced mobile security for organizations that is simple to use and quick to deploy.  Its unique technology enables enterprises to protect mobile devices and their valuable data through web security, app and network controls, cloud antivirus, and much more.  These innovative solutions block more threats, reduce IT complexity, and mitigate the overall risk of data loss.

A fellow Sequoia Capital-funded startup, Clutch had already caught our attention with press about its cloud-based IT security tools. When Clutch applied for a Startup Kit, we were more than happy to provide one for a company working to provide tools for a similar audience as the Meraki demographic.

Below, the Clutch team displays their Meraki gear and schwag:

After using the Meraki gear for several weeks, Garrett tells us, “It’s been great. A huge upgrade over our previous Linksys router.”

Brandon, another Clutch employee, explained, “I think the thing that speaks most to the Meraki gear is the fact that I spent about an hour getting everything set up the day we received the gear and haven’t had to touch a thing since. Everything just works!”

802.11ac roadmap in PCs

Earlier this month, we did a post on Apple’s potential plans for 802.11ac, and in keeping with the client-side theme, I wanted to turn my attention to PCs1. There are more manufacturers so fragmentation is an issue, but fortunately, many companies such as Lenovo, HP and Dell utilize Intel’s built-in wireless solution on their mobile chips. This is commonly known as Centrino, but Intel has been edging away from that branding under a unified Intel Wireless moniker.

So what are Intel’s ac plans? Fortunately, Intel publishes detailed roadmaps, unfortunately, the latest official roadmap doesn’t include ac. So we will rely on what we know from leaks and other Intel announcements. The Internet seems to think that 802.11ac will ship with Wilkins Peak2, which will be packaged with Haswell3. Intel showed off Haswell / Core 4 at CES, and it appears that the speculation that Haswell will launch around June of 2013 is correct, a bit more than a year after Ivy Bridge, and consistent with a microarchitecture tock.

The good news is that manufacturers incorporate new platforms fairly quickly after announce: Ivy Bridge was launched on April 22nd and Lenovo announced its Ivy Bridge-enabled laptops about a month later4. So we should expect to see ac as at least an upgrade option on most mainstream laptops by late summer / early fall.

What about everyone who doesn’t use Intel’s wireless solution? We’ve already seen Broadcom’s plans, and here’s a basic overview of who’s got what in chipset-land right now. The ASUS G75VX is widely regarded as one of the first laptops to ship5 with 802.11ac, and we’ll undoubtedly see more machines utilizing solutions from Marvell, Qualcomm/Atheros and Mediatek among others. I would expect to see the chipsets ship in volume in late Q1 / early Q2 with applications following soon after. All in all, the next six months should be an exciting time for fans of fast wireless.


(1) To be pedantic, Macs are PCs, at least by the traditional definition of “PC”.
(2) Wilkins Peak is the wireless solution, Shark Bay is the platform, based on the Haswell microarchitecture.
(3) This is a wonderful in-depth look at Haswell and is highly recommended.
(4) Sandy Bridge (the tick to Ivy Bridge’s tock) was released by Intel in Jan 2011 and Lenovo had the T420 by late February.
(5) Although I’ve never personally seen one in the wild, Amazon Canada seems to have stock.

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Meraki is going to BETT 2013

Hello, London! We’ll be exhibiting at the Bett show at the ExCeL London convention center starting January 30. Bett is one of Europe’s biggest venues for educational technology, and we’re excited to show how Meraki solves challenges for schools. Come check us out at stand E172 and get a live demo of the Meraki dashboard.

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Entrepreneur First – Helping UK startups get off the ground

(Guest post by George Bentinck)

2012 was the inaugural year of Entrepreneur First, a UK based early stage accelerator  that helps top graduates enter the world of entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneur First program differs from most other start-up programs by helping create teams of like-minded, talented individuals with participants selected on the basis of their potential rather than a specific start-up idea. Intensive team building, mentoring and administrative support is provided as well as a collaborative working space in central London so that they can create start-ups from scratch.

Entrepreneurship is a subject close to Meraki’s heart and with Entrepreneur First supporters including The UK Prime Minister, Microsoft, McKinsey, Silicon Valley Bank, Google and Facebook, it made perfect sense for us to be involved.

We provided the network infrastructure for the programme’s office in central London using the MX Security Appliance and MR Wireless Access points.  The flexibility of the Meraki equipment and ease of use suited the temporary nature of the sponsored space, while it was also able to cope with the demands of numerous growing businesses whose world revolves around being connected.

Along with material support Meraki has also provided expertise, with AJ Goldman, Chief Evangelist at Meraki giving a talk on growing your start-up and taking investment wisely, while I have spoken on the skills needed for technical selling.

In December ‘Demo Day’ was the culmination of months of hard work with the program’s start-ups pitching their company, concept and team to an audience of over 120 investors, entrepreneurs and partners. I was there to shoot some video and to catch-up with some of the participants.

There were 7 companies pitching on the night, here’s a flavour of what they pitched:

Prizeo provides an online platform for charity raffles, in which a celebrity offers fans a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime prize at just £1 (or $1) per ticket. Celebrities and their charities use their social networks and press to promote their campaign, and use Prizeo’s viral features to spread the word.

Verse is a PowerPoint plugin that lets teams work on a presentation painlessly – instead of emailing around slides, or worrying about version control, it provides instant updates.

BLAZE tackles one of the biggest causes of cyclist fatality – being caught in a vehicle’s blind spot. It is a beautifully designed, high-quality bike light that projects a laser image of a cyclist onto the road which significantly improves a cyclist’s visibility and safety.

ClickMechanic is an online marketplace that allows drivers to find and book trustworthy mobile mechanics to come to their home and repair their car.

Adbrain is software that allows advertisers to target users across mobile devices, segment these users into addressable groups, tie them to their desktop activity, and then buy and serve the most relevant ads for maximum impact.

Flavrbox offers you the joy of discovering high quality artisan foods while sparing you the pain of sourcing these items individually from independent shops and markets. Each month, they send customers a beautifully designed box of handpicked food and drink products.

Mavrx make affordable, intelligent aerial robots. Their first product is a quadcopter which hobbyists and extreme sports enthusiasts love for its rugged sport camera integration. The first version, the R10, recently sold $220k of products on Kickstarter.

If you would like to view the pitches from the night then you can watch them on the Entrepreneur First YouTube channel here.

Meraki will continue to work with the Entrepreneur First program and its participants as a service partner in 2013, and we wish all those involved the best success for the coming year. As a company we liked to be involved with the startup community both in the US and the UK. If you work for a start-up and would like some sweet Meraki networking gear to run your business on then make sure to check out our free Startup Kits here.

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Meraki at NRF 2013

Last week Meraki made the cross-country trip to New York to exhibit at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference at the Jacob Javits Center. This was our first time at NRF, and our event since officially becoming a part of Cisco. We had a great time interacting with some of the biggest names in retail and demoing our technology for the industry.

Here’s video of us live from the show floor, courtesy of the Cisco Retail Facebook page:

And here’s a look at our booth during the show—it’s not too large compared to some of the immersive experiences that other vendors constructed, but our simple and powerful solutions for retailers brought quite a bit of attention to our corner of the exhibition hall anyway.

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Startup Kit Spotlight: Udacity

Udacity is using online education to change the way the world learns. Their goal is to offer higher education for free to anyone with access to the internet. Today they offer close to 20 different classes on a variety of technical topics, and they have big plans to expand their course catalog along with enrollment.

The Udacity team was previously using consumer grade equipment to support the entire staff in their Palo Alto office, so the Startup Kit will relieve the strain on their infrastructure, and let them focus on their core goals.

We thought Udacity made a great fit for a Startup Kit because they have a few offsite studios where they record video content for each course, so they had a need for a multi-site network that could support the frequent transfer of multimedia files.

While we’ve sent Startup Kits across the country and into Canada, we love working with local companies, since we can deliver the equipment in person. Here’s a shot from our visit to the Udacity office:

We receive new Startup Kit applications every day, so you can keep track of our progress with our Startup Kit Spotlight series here on the blog or on twitter  at #StartupKit

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