Archive for July, 2013

Facebook WiFi: A Simple Way to Promote Your Business

Last week, Facebook Product Managers Erik Tseng and Joanna Lee joined Cisco Meraki Wireless Product Manager Raj Krishna for an interactive webinar on how to provide an integrated WiFi sign-on platform using Facebook.

The highlight? In two mouse clicks, you can create a splash page that lets users check-in to your business page in exchange for free WiFi, instantly providing access to your current news and deals.

What else can you do with Facebook WiFi? Not only can you offer exclusive deals to your loyal customers, but you can also learn more about the clients connecting to your network to create a better user experience and promote engagement. It’s also one less password to remember, one less hassle for your customers, and the easiest way to create a lasting connection.

Below are some of the frequently asked questions during the webinar.

How can an organization offer different deals to regular WiFi users v. those who login using Facebook WiFi?

You can do this by using two SSIDs, one for Facebook WiFi users and another for regular WiFi users. Cisco Meraki Access Points can broadcast up to 15 SSIDs so you can customize your needs across many different types of users.

Check out Facebook’s “Offers” page for how to create deals for users on your Facebook WiFi SSID:

On your regular WiFi SSID, use the EXCAP api to offer promotions to users.

Where do I get a banner to advertise Facebook WiFi?

A banner designed by Facebook advertising free Wi-Fi is available here:

What if my organization doesn’t have a Facebook account?

You’ll need to create a Facebook Page for your organization in order to use Facebook WiFi with Cisco Meraki. More information on how to create a Facebook Page is available at

What happens if a business has several locations?

A valid location is required for Facebook WiFi usage. If a business has several locations, a Facebook page can be created for each of these. Check out Facebook’s Parent-Child structure if you have 5+ locations:

Will enabling Facebook WiFi in your Cisco Meraki dashboard automatically create a Facebook business page for those that don’t already have one?

No, Facebook requires businesses to create their own page. A valid location is required to use Facebook WiFi and this is defined by the business page admin, along with other custom information.

Do users have to “Check in” or can they bypass that step?

Users who connect to your SSID using Facebook WiFi will be prompted to check in using their Facebook credentials. You can allow users to skip this step by giving them open access or requiring them to input a password of your choosing, created in your Facebook page settings.

Can you require users to “Like” your page in addition to checking in?

While you cannot require a WiFi user to “Like” your organization’s Facebook page, they will be automatically prompted to do so after checking in.

How do you ensure security?

We take security very seriously at Cisco Meraki. Cisco Meraki offers a number of tools that enable administrators to ensure the security of their network as well as the information of the users that connect, including Level 1 PCI compliance and an out of band architecture. You can find out more at

How do you deny Facebook use for employees, but allow access for guest users?

You can confine employee devices to a particular SSID with restricted access to Facebook or any number of applications. Then create a separate SSID specifically for guest access with Facebook WiFi.

What encryption methods are needed for Facebook WiFi login?

Open, encryption-free association is required for Facebook WiFi.

Are there other splash page sign-on methods, besides Facebook WiFi?

Yes, with Cisco Meraki, you can create custom captive portals, walled gardens, and splash pages that allow users to continue straight to their destination, require further authentication, or route through specified pages. More information is available at

Still curious? Check out the recording and the slides here!

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Taking packet captures to the next level

One of the most compelling benefits of cloud networking has to be the ability to troubleshoot technical issues remotely. Network engineers out there know that obtaining packet captures, an essential tool in the troubleshooting arsenal, can quickly consume time and money when supporting remote offices. Traditionally, an engineer needs to be physically present where the data is moving in order to “tap the wire” and capture detailed traffic for analysis.

In 2012 we solved this problem by giving engineers the ability to take detailed short-burst packet captures on any device in any location served by Cisco Meraki equipment. Combined with our remote cable testing feature, packet capture in the Cisco Meraki dashboard makes it far simpler to support networks on branch sites where dedicated IT resources may not be available.

The basic results of packet captures can be presented directly in the dashboard, but for more thorough data analysis, a .pcap file can be downloaded onto the engineer’s computer and opened with software like Wireshark (formerly known as Ethereal). If you haven’t worked with one before, you’ll be amazed at the detail contained in a .pcap file. It reveals everything that is passing through—from soup to nuts.

Now we’ve gone a step further and removed the need for local software by working with a new cloud service called CloudShark. Detailed packet captures can now be displayed directly in a web browser on any device.

Selecting CloudSharkSelecting CloudShark

Using CloudShark with Merkai is super easy. By default, any capture sent to the service is immediately viewable in the browser on CloudShark’s own website. If you’re already familiar with Wireshark, you’ll be right at home here. Here’s a sample :

Example Cloudshark Capture

Example Cloudshark Capture

If all of this detail looks overwhelming, the service includes analysis tools for helping you find that elusive needle in a haystack.

CloudShark Analysis Tools

CloudShark Analysis Tools

CloudShark also offers the option to host its software locally on your own server. This provides significant additional benefits, useful in larger organizations where many captures may be taken routinely and there may be a requirement to retain this data for future use or compliance purposes. With CloudShark’s Appliance software you can

  • Build a searchable repository of capture files
  • Tag captures to associate them to a location, device or trouble/support ticket
  • Annotate packets and captures
  • Securely collaborate on encrypted packet captures
  • Manage user access, even integrating with LDAP/AD

Setting up an Appliance is easy, just download it and install. Add the URL and unique API token to the Cisco Meraki dashboard, and all captures will go directly from the Cisco Meraki cloud to the CloudShark Appliance, encrypted all the way from your Access Point, Security Appliance, or Switch.

Check In to success with Facebook WiFi

cisco meraki image

Facebook now counts over 1 billion active users, so there’s quite a good chance that your customers have Facebook accounts as well. Now Cisco Meraki wireless can help you tap into the power of the world’s most popular social network to create real value for your business.

Facebook WiFi with Cisco Meraki adds a layer of security to your guest network and creates a better user experience for your customers while promoting awareness of your business and engagement with your brand. With only two clicks of your mouse, create a splash page allowing users to check-in to your business page in exchange for free WiFi. It’s one less password for guests to keep track of, and one more way to create a lasting connection with your customers through social media.

Product Managers from both Facebook and Cisco Meraki will be hosting the live webinar, and they’re itching to show you the benefits of this  partnership, including:

  • Using client demographic information to tailor user experiences
  • Increasing awareness through recognition on news feeds
  • Creating a smoother, more convenient process of granting WiFi access

Sign up now for July 17’s “Facebook WiFi with Cisco Meraki” webinar!

Cisco Meraki for Hospitality at HITEC 2013

We traveled to Minneapolis, MN to attend HITEC 2013, the world’s largest hospitality technology exposition. We were excited to meet IT professionals looking to upgrade existing networking gear to take advantage of the Cisco Meraki features better suited for their hotel locations.

A lot of visitors really loved that the Cisco Meraki access points allowed them to schedule the availability of their SSIDs for conferences and other events. The hospitality-focused audience also enjoyed features like PCI-compliance, billable splash pages, and WiFi with Facebook login, which allows your guests to check in on your Facebook Page to access free WiFi. Sound interesting? Sign up here for our upcoming webinar: Facebook Wifi with Cisco Meraki.

We had hardware on display as well: our new 8-port switch gives hotels the option of plugging in TVs, VoIP phones, and lights in guest rooms that all require a wired connection to Ethernet. Check out our mounting rack to place the switch underneath a desk without changing the aesthetics of room décor!

Finally, Presence, part of our newest set of features available for Cisco Meraki wireless access points, made a huge splash. Presence analytics in the wireless dashboard can offer better visibility into how guests interact with physical locations. It lets hotels measure how long their guests linger in different areas, how frequently they come back, and compare that data across locations. Armed with that information, you can better tailor promotions and welcome frequent visitors with more personalization.

To learn more about Cisco Meraki solutions for the hospitality industry, you can read case studies and deployment stories on our website.


The Cisco Meraki Team at ISTE 2013!

Last week we made the trip to San Antonio, Texas to present Cisco Meraki solutions for education at ISTE 2013, the nation’s largest conference for educational technology. Our booth this year featured a few stations for 1:1 demos as well as a truly massive TV screen for presenting the Cisco Meraki dashboard to larger audiences. As hundreds of people stopped by the booth each day, we saw a lot of interest in our wireless access points, and we also had our security appliances and switches—including the new 8-port model—on display. As always, Systems Manager, our free tool for cloud-based MDM, was a big hit among schools and districts in need of a simple yet powerful way to manage BYOD or 1:1 devices in their classrooms. Be sure to check out to see more about how Cisco Meraki works for education environments.

Here are some photos of the booth and the team at ISTE! Head over to our Facebook page to see the full album.

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Mission Impossible: One Hour WiFi

We often get get asked if it’s really so simple to setup a Cisco Meraki WiFi network, so we decided to design a webinar to put this question to bed once and for all. In typical fashion, we did this our way—with a healthy dusting of fun—so we decided to design a webinar which would push our presenters to the limit. Could we configure an enterprise-grade wireless network in under an hour? We picked a date in the diary, and we began spreading the word through our usual social media channels. To our delight we received an tremendous number of registrations—perhaps they were all expecting Tom Cruise to make an appearance?

In order to put on a show worthy of the title, we developed a comprehensive demo designed to cover all the steps required to get a typical business-grade WiFi configuration in place, starting with a completely factory-fresh Access Point. Take a look at the demo rundown and ask yourself how long you’d expect this to take with the equipment you’re used to:

– Add the AP to a newly created network

– Place the AP on a map and an uploaded floorplan

– Create a staff SSID to include:

  • WPA2-Enterprise login with RADIUS authentication
  • Restrict all devices to a maximum bandwidth of 2Mbps
  • Block access to Facebook

– Create a guest SSID to include :

  • Login via Facebook Check-In/Code
  • Enable Network Access Control to check for the presence of antivirus software
  • Block adult content
  • Device-based group policy restricting iOS and Android devices to 1Mbps
  • Restrict total SSID bandwidth to 5Mbps
  • Apply traffic shaping to all video and music traffic, restricting it to 500Kbps
  • Configure the SSID to only be available during working hours

Just setting this up alone would seem enough of a challenge even without the strict deadline, but not for our presenters! After building this configuration, we asked them to bring the AP online so that it could collect its config from the cloud and we could test everything in front of the live audience using a real WiFi client device. Once again our team rose to the challenge, connecting an Android phone to each SSID and running through the configured features in real-time with many hundreds of people watching.  Pippa the cat played a starring role and really stole the show.


Even with all this work to do, the demo finished in just over 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time for the presentation and Q&A. Immediately following the webinar our  phones started ringing and feedback started to come in. It’s no exaggeration to say we were absolutely delighted by the response. Here are just a few of the critics’ reviews:

“To be honest we’re sold on [Cisco Meraki] now…It was was a very well structured seminar: clear and concise, easy to pick up for someone who has never seen the product before. Thanks!”

“Very well presented with a bit of cheese in it to keep you interested.”

“It was very good. I’m sure I will use Meraki for all my future WiFi projects.”

So there you have it. Clearly we have a blockbuster on our hands. If you missed the premiere, be sure to keep the popcorn handy and look out for screenings in your region. Alternatively, if you can’t wait for a live session there’s an archived recording of this webinar and many others at our webinar home page.

For now, we think it’s safe to say Mission Accomplished.