One of the most challenging aspects of managing large distributed networks is troubleshooting issues when the client is across town (or maybe even across the country!). Having on-site IT personnel 24/7 at even small satellite branch offices can require a very large IT staff and is too expensive for most organizations. Meraki networks offer a variety of “remote hands” troubleshooting tools, helping network admins diagnose and resolve many wireless connectivity issues without dispatching IT staff to the site. The ability to run diagnostic checks such as pinging an access point, running a throughput test from Dashboard, or reviewing detailed event logs have been integral to Meraki’s value for distributed networks and organizations with small IT staffs and large footprints.
We are now announcing a set of Live Client Tools that expose even more up-to-the-second information about who is on a wireless network, and further help troubleshoot connectivity issues. Administrators who log into their Enterprise network in Dashboard will notice several new and improved areas. On the Monitor > Overview page, there is now a new addition under the network name showing the number of clients that are associated at that moment:
If you click on the “More” link, you will see an expanded list with more information, including which SSIDs and channels the clients are using. This data is automatically refreshed as long as the “More” link is expanded.
Even cooler, Enterprise customers can change the access points map to show where clients are associated: click the “Options” menu on the map and select “Current clients.”
But the really interesting stuff is on the Access Point and Client detail pages. The Access Point detail page used to look like this:
Now, all of the live tools have been consolidated into a new, cleaner layout. Both Pro and Enterprise networks will benefit from the new layout. Enterprise networks now have two additional features in this area: Current Clients and Ping Client MAC. Clicking on the play icon next to Current Clients will pop up a list of all clients associated to that AP at that instant, including useful information about each client such as MAC, SSID, channel, signal strength, and how long they have been associated. Click on the name of a client to go to its client details page. You’ll even see clients that have associated, but not authenticated (they’re listed in grey). If you click the Ping link next to the client, you can actually ping that client in real time using ARP, as well as get additional information, such as RSSI changes over time and 802.1X identity (if appropriate).
The other new addition, Ping Client MAC, allows you to enter a MAC address and try to ping it. This can be very useful if you are trying to determine if a particular device is on your network at that moment.
There is also a new Live Tools section on the client detail page. From this page you can also ping that individual client, but there are a few additional new tools:
The Locate Client tool allows you to find out whether that client is associated on your network at that moment, and if so, where they’re associated and for how long:
Finally, the Packet Counter tool shows a real-time count of received and sent packets to that client. You can actually see the packet counters roll as you ping the client!
We think these new tools further improve Meraki’s uniquely clear approach to distributed, multi-site network management, a normally challenging task. Network administrators can more quickly resolve their wireless users’ connectivity issues and access accurate real-time data about the exact state of their network.
We’ve got two big announcements today for our enterprise customers – significant new product features, and a lifetime warranty on all indoor enterprise access points!
Lifetime Warranty on Indoor Enterprise APs
We put a lot of care into building solid, high-quality products. We think our APs should last a lifetime, and now we’re putting our money where our mouth is.
Effective immediately, all of our enterprise-class indoor access points – including our most popular model, the MR14 – are covered by a lifetime warranty. This upgraded coverage applies retroactively to existing units as well as to new purchases, and is free of charge.
We’re also offering free advanced shipping – a first in our industry. This means that if your access points need replacement, we’ll ship out new units immediately, rather than waiting to receive your APs before sending out replacements.
Since we’ve seen very few failures, these new policies won’t affect the vast majority of you. But we hope that these policies will make infrastructure budget planning easier for some, and add peace of mind for all.
New Enterprise Features
We’ve been working hard on new features for our enterprise products and we’re excited to announce that they’re available for you to use on your networks today.
We now automatically generate periodic analytics reports of the activity on your wireless network. These reports show the usage and reliability of the wireless network, bandwidth trends, device popularity, mobility, and more. These are great for network operators, as well as their staff and management. We’ve even had beta users post parts of the reports to their blogs. Wondering which operating systems are most popular on the Stanford Computer Science department’s wireless network? See here. (Hint – Apple is taking over the world.)
Check out a complete sample, from Stanford’s Computer Science Department:
Rogue AP Detection
This feature protects against 2 kinds of security risks. In one, a hacker can place an access point near your network that broadcasts the same SSID as your legitimate device. If users inadvertently connect to it, they could enter sensitive information (like their network login) into the malicious device. In the second case, one could plug a wireless access point into the wired LAN, without the appropriate encryption and access control – providing an opening into your network. More often than not, this is done by an employee who does not know that he is putting the network at risk.
These two types of “rogue APs” can be detected with dedicated software tools – provided you physically walk around your coverage area with a laptop. We’ve integrated rogue AP detection into our access points and monitoring software, so the Meraki network can continually monitor the airwaves for you and alert you upon signs of trouble.
Here at Meraki’s San Francisco office, our engineers plug in test devices left and right, giving a fertile testing ground for this feature:
We now expose fine-grained event logs in the Meraki Cloud Controller, giving precise visibility into where, when, and how devices are connecting to the network, and aiding in troubleshooting and device tracking.
Support for 15 SSIDs
We’ve upped the maximum number of SSIDs from 4 to 15. While most customers have one SSID for their secure corporate network, and another open network for guests, some of our users have dedicated virtual networks for specialized equipment and devices, SSIDs with different bandwidth limits, etc. Westmont College, one of our customers whom we’ve mentioned on the blog before, has an SSID for their WiFi-controlled HVAC system, and Stanford’s Computer Science department has a dedicated SSID for their experimental robots! Now that we support 15 SSIDs, you can have a dedicated SSID for your wireless toaster oven and not run out.
Availability (and the beauty of SaaS)
Since the Meraki Cloud Controller is a cloud-based software service, these features (and many other improvements) are available immediately – with no upgrades to purchase, and no software to download or install.
Within the next few days and weeks, we’ll dive deeper into some of these features here on the blog – exploring use cases, tips, and tricks. In the mean time, give them a spin on your networks!