08 December 2011

Meraki: Level 1 PCI DSS Certified

Retailers rely on us to provide a wireless solution that helps them meet PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) compliance requirements, and the feedback on some of our security features such as two-factor authenticationhas been very positive. Meraki has passed a level 1 PCI DSS v2 audit and earned the corresponding Report on Compliance (RoC), providing an additional layer of security for retail and other sensitive environments.

Out-of-band control

Customers have been using Meraki to build PCI-compliant networks for years, and since Meraki’s cloud architecture is out-of-band, our cloud is out-of-scope of a retailer’s PCI audit. However, we wanted to go above and beyond and deliver an additional level of reassurance. To increase our security, we submitted our cloud networking environment to a complete, on-site level 1 PCI DSS audit (the most rigorous audit level), including audits of our data centers.

Level 1 PCI DSS certified

Even though the Meraki data centers are out-of-band and thus out-of-scope for a retailer’s PCI audit, those who need to meet the requirements of a PCI audit now have the additional reassurance that Meraki’s out-of-band cloud networking architecture also meets those requirements. As the only cloud networking wireless provider to pass a level 1 PCI DSS v2 audit, we’re leading the way to provide the highest level of confidence for security-conscious customers, including those who are looking for infrastructure that meets the same PCI DSS requirements they must adhere to. This also streamlines the audit process for customers going through their own PCI DSS audit.
Meraki’s security features address all of the PCI DSS requirements and help customers to build and maintain a secure network, protect cardholder data, maintain a vulnerability management program, implement strong access control measures, and monitor network security. Retailers who use Meraki to maintain a secure retail environment include Starbucks, Burger King, United Colors of Benetton UK, Design Within Reach, and Applebee’s. You can read about their deployments, and other retailers’ deployments, at http://meraki.com/customers/retail.
Design Within Reach uses Meraki for secure WiFi at all 47 stores nationwide

01 December 2011

Granting Wireless Wishes this Holiday Season

What did you wish for this holiday season? Perhaps some shiny new Meraki WLAN features such as PCI reports, WIPS enhancements, group policies by device type, or Teleworker VPN split tunnels? If so, you’re in luck because our engineering elves have been hard at work. There’s something for everyone including retail, enterprise, education, and remote workers. Even better, these enhancements don’t cost you a thing. Thanks to our cloud-based architecture, there’s nothing you need to do to install or enable them. Just wait for them to show up intime for the holidays! For now, here’s a quick preview.

(Oh, if your wish is to build awesome features like these, then apply to join our Engineering Elves!)

PCI Compliance Reports for Retail

Meraki’s dashboard makes it simple to deploy a PCI compliant wireless network, and now we’ve taken it one step further. Our new PCI compliance reports check your network settings such as firewall rules and password policies against PCI requirements and present a summary report which you can print out. If something’s out of compliance, the report provides guidance on what changes need to be done. Bonus points: we’re also the only cloud networking wireless vendor topass a level 1 PCI DSS v2 audit.
PCI Report Ouput

WIPS Enhancements for Enterprise

Earlier this year Gartner rated Meraki as “Promising” in the 2011 MarketScope for Wireless LAN Intrusion Prevention Systems. Never one to disappoint, we’re delivering on that promise with the new ability to detect and visually map wireless intrusions including rogue APs and DoS attacks. Wondering who’s attacking your wireless network and where they are? Now you can quickly locate and physically remove the intrusions, or use the Meraki access points to wirelessly contain the rogue APs.
Group Policies by Device Type for Everyone
Last year we rolled out group policies, an easy way to automatically assign VLAN tags and firewall rules to specific groups of users. Teachers and students can connect to the same SSID, but based on their RADIUS or active directory groups, be assigned different policies. Now you can also auto-assign group policies to specific device types, so iPads or mobile phones might be restricted to web-only access, no matter who the authenticated user might be.
Group Policies by Device Type
Teleworker VPN Split Tunnel for Branch Offices and Remote Workers
Meraki’s teleworker VPN solution can be configured in a few clicks. Remote locations just plugin an access point and they instantly have secure access to corporate office resources. With the split tunnel enhancement, you can direct specific traffic to use the VPN tunnel while non-corporate traffic (YouTube, Netflix) stays local.
Split Tunnel for Teleworker VPN

10 November 2011


Meraki, the recognized leader in Cloud Networking, today announced the availability of the second major feature update to its MX series multi-service router product family. Designed specifically for the branch, the MX provides complete networking and security, centrally managed via the cloud.

Meraki released the MX in January of 2011. Built on Meraki’s five years of experience in the cloud, the MX brought out-of-the-box centralized management and zero touch deployment to firewall services, site-to-site VPN, branch routing, layer 7 application traffic shaping and more, all in a single powerful hardware platform.

2nd Major Upgrade Packs Dozens of New Features
Today, Meraki announced the second major firmware upgrade for the MX platform. This upgrade includes dozens of new features, enhancements, and performance improvements. Available immediately and at no cost to all new and existing MX customers, this update is delivered seamlessly to users from the cloud. Highlights include:

Enhanced Auto-Negotiating VPN
The original MX featured the industry’s first auto-negotiating site-to-site VPN, a revolutionary feature that lets administrators instantly create secure distributed networks. This technology delighted customers by eliminating the headaches of site-to-site VPNs - routing tables, authentication, association parameters, key
exchanges, etc. - replacing them with point and click configuration and on-demand, automatic provisioning from the cloud. This latest update adds interoperability with third party site-to-site VPNs, enabling heterogeneous network environments and facilitating phased MX deployments.

Identity Based Security Policies
This latest update also enhances the MX’s identity-based policy capabilities. The MX now features deep integration with Active Directory environments, enabling administrators to tailor policies, such as content filtering, to a user’s identity. In a school, for example, students can be subject to strict content filtering, while teachers and staff enjoy unrestricted Internet access. Unlike other identity-based policy engines, the MX configures network-wide in just minutes, and does not require agent software on the customer’s Active Directory server.

Customer Adoption Outpacing Expectations
Since introduction, customers have embraced the MX at a torrid pace. Notable customer deployments include:
• Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the worlds 2nd largest music publisher
• Syracuse University, who uses the MX to power their satellite campuses
• Westfield Malls, who deployed the MX in major shopping centers across the United States

“The branch has traditionally been an overlooked area of the enterprise network,” said Kiren Sekar, V.P. of Marketing at Meraki. “But demand for secure, reliable connectivity is exploding, with hundreds of millions of people using iPads and cloud applications from remote offices, retail stores, restaurants, clinics and hotels – often without on-site IT. The Meraki MX provides a complete solution for the branch that is easy to use and cost effective. We’re delighted to see customer adoption blow away our wildest expectations.”

27 October 2011

Numara Software Acquires Fromdistance, Leading Provider of Mobile Device Management Solutions

First Company to Deliver Service Management, Endpoint Lifecycle Management and Mobile Device Management Solutions Via the Cloud

Numara® Software, Inc., a global leader in service management and PC lifecycle management solutions for IT professionals, today announced that it has acquired mobile device management leader Fromdistance, enabling Numara to provide customers with solutions to manage and secure mobile devices across all of the major mobile operating systems. The acquisition strategically positions Numara with core mobile device management capabilities that will be integrated into its robust service and asset management solutions already providing medium to large enterprises with a comprehensive solution to track, manage, remediate and retire all endpoint devices whether they are servers, desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.

“With the acquisition of Fromdistance we are excited by the opportunity to merge leading edge mobile device management technology with our service, asset and lifecycle management solutions,” said Dave Hansen, Numara CEO. “We are now steps ahead of our competitors, as the only company that can unite the management of any device, whether it is traditional, mobile, physical or virtual.”

“Managing the plethora of mobile devices in the enterprise has emerged as one of IT’s biggest operational challenges,” said Matt Dircks, vice president of products at Numara. “Effectively solving this challenge requires an integrated solution for managing and controlling all endpoint devices, including mobile devices through their lifecycle. With the Fromdistance acquisition Numara will be the only company providing a single, integrated management context across any device, be it traditional desktop, laptop computers or mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.”

Fromdistance has been identified by Gartner as a strong niche player in its April 2011 Magic Quadrant for mobile device management software. The acquisition will not only benefit existing Numara customers, but will also benefit Fromdistance customers and partners. This strategy ultimately empowers companies to reap the benefits of consolidated endpoint management, whether they are physical, virtual or mobile. IT will be able to manage their mobile estate, whether personal or corporate and leverage its central service management and lifecycle management processes and policies.

Jouko Vierumäki, CEO and founder of Fromdistance, will assume a leadership role in Numara’s product group where he and his team will also continue working with existing Fromdistance customers. The terms of the acquisition were not revealed.

“We are very excited to join the Numara Software team,” said Vierumäki. “Strategically, incorporating our mature mobile device management technology into a broader IT operations management solution is critical. You will see other vendors follow, but Numara’s strategy is leading the way. This is a very logical next step for us and one that will have great benefit to our respective customers.”

Numara’s newly acquired mobile device management solutions are easily re-branded and able to integrate into any IT environment, making them well suited to be leveraged by MSPs, systems integrators, carriers and operators.

About Numara® Software Incorporated
Founded in 1991, Numara® Software Inc. is a leading provider of integrated IT management solutions for all types of customers worldwide. These solutions include Desktop Management, PC Lifecycle Management, Security & Compliance, Help Desk and Service Desk, and are designed to optimize the operation of IT management. Numara® FootPrints® focuses on the needs of medium to large enterprises, and Numara® Track-It!® is designed for small to medium enterprises. These products collectively support more than 50,000 customer sites.

10 October 2011

A Simple, Secure Way to Connect Your Branches

Customers who have deployed Meraki MX cloud-managed routers have really benefited from its ability to centrally manage secure multi-site networks. Using built-in site-to-site VPN capability and the link aggregation and failover of the MX70, secure multi-site networks can be deployed while reducing configuration complexity and lowering branch connectivity costs. This is best illustrated through a few examples, so part of Meraki’s network configuration is shown below.

Deploying a site-to-site VPN network

Ordinarily, configuring a multi-site VPN mesh network can be complex and tedious. Site-to-site networks need to be established with WAN routes for each peer-to-peer connection, and IPsec needs to be configured. That includes setting up authentication, security association parameters, and possibly manual exchange of keys (or configuration of a key management protocol).
Deploying MX routers into a multi-site networks eliminates the tedious manual configuration of the site-to-site VPN. Adding a site into the network’s architecture is done simply by adding the MX router into the organization, setting the local subnet, and enabling participation in the VPN. The MX routers automatically discover each other through Meraki’s cloud network so you don’t have to manually enable routes between each. Figure 1 shows the high level configuration of a typical multi-site network (only three sites are shown for simplicity).
Figure 1: MX deployment architecture
Figure 1: Meraki MX deployment architecture
On Meraki’s network, “Burlingame MX” is a router at a branch location, as shown in figure 2. Note the VPN mode, subnet configuration, and available VPN peers.

Figure 2: Burlingame MX VPN configuration

The configuration of the Burlingame MX is straightforward, and its subnet appears at Meraki’s engineering HQ MX. The engineering HQ MX sits in Meraki’s San Francisco headquarters, and its network has several VLANs that can be selectively included in the site-to-site VPN and made available to the peers on the network. An organization-wide site-to-site firewall can enforce complex custom policies, such as limiting selected traffic between certain sites.

Figure 3: Engineering HQ MX VPN Configuration
By taking advantage of site-to-site VPN, network administrators are able to minimize configuration and management overhead for their branch networks. Using link aggregation, they can even move away from expensive dedicated lines for connecting their branches together. Check out the previous post on connectivity cost savings for more details.

04 October 2011

Oracle needs some cloud computing mojo

Oracle’s cloud computing stance has, um, evolved, to say the least, over the past few years. As the company preps for its annualOracle OpenWorld mega-show in San Francisco next week, a question lingers: Is Oracle software and/or hardware cloudworthy?
Expect a lot of cloud talk out of the conference and more on hardware-software bundles a la the company’s ExadataExalogic and new database appliance. But Oracle still has a lot to prove on the cloud front.
Oracle’s cloud problem goes back at least two years, when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison famously mocked cloud computing hype at a Churchill Club event. “What do you think Google runs on? Water vapor?” he asked. “How about databases, and operating systems, and microprocessors and the Internet?”
As colleague Derrick Harris wrote for GigaOM Pro at the time, Ellison showed a lack of understanding of true cloud benefits:
Cloud computing is about far more than simply serving applications via the network. It is, at the least, about pay-per-use billing, process automation, on-demand provisioning of additional resources and increasing efficiency through multi-tenant architectures. Many believe cloud computing is about openness. If it does not increase flexibility and efficiency while decreasing extraneous costs, it is not cloud computing.
Read more

03 October 2011

Inspire WiFi chooses Meraki to provide wireless access for guests and patients at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York

Meraki, the cloud-based networking company, today announced that its wireless LAN solution is used to provide WiFi at the Montefiore Medical Center, one of the largest hospital and care networks in New York. Montefiore’s provider, Inspire WiFi, deployed Meraki to provide WiFi across all patient and guest areas, and continues the ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and technical support of the WiFi network.

Montefiore Medical Center has more than 350 practicing physicians and includes three main divisions: the Moses Division, including the Children’s Hospital; the Jack D. Weiler Hospital; and Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center. Inspire WiFi deployed over 150 Meraki MR14 access points to provide coverage across the three divisions.

Now Montefiore’s patients and guests are able to enjoy high-speed wireless internet access inside patient rooms, waiting areas, and outdoor courtyards. According to Greg Ebbert, Vice President of Inspire WiFi, over 7,000 users accessed the Montefiore WiFi network in the first six weeks that it was live. “We are excited to partner with Meraki and Montefiore to provide this amenity for Montefiore’s patients and guests,” Ebbert said.

“Our patients and guests have been asking for WiFi, so we were pleased when Inspire WiFi was able to provide us with a carefree hospital-wide wireless solution,” said Jack Wolf, CIO of Montefiore. “We are always looking for ways to set ourselves apart and to increase patient satisfaction. Inspire WiFi provided us with a great tool through Meraki to accomplish those goals.”

“Meraki is pleased to work with Inspire Wifi to provide WiFi at the Montefiore Medical Center, one of the largest employers in New York state,” said Kiren Sekar, Meraki’s Director of Marketing. “Meraki’s innovative cloud-based wireless architecture and Inspire’s expertise in deploying and running multi-site WiFi networks have already served thousands of patients and guests across several Montefiore locations.”

Cloud Distribution outlines strategy

Distribution must add value or move aside says Dobson
Specialist distie Cloud Distribution is to add cloud based penetration testing service iViz to its portfolio as part of its plan to create a new type of VAD that avoids SaaS but embraces the channel to deliver the cloud management aspect of traditional sales.
Scott Dobson, MD and founder of Cloud Distribution highlights iViz and cloud managed wireless AP vendor Meraki as perfect additions to its portfolio. “[We partner] with vendors who deliver network infrastructure and security that is managed from the cloud in a multi-tenanted, multi tiered front end. That takes a lot of the complexity and management overhead that say a Cisco-based solution apply to their systems.”
Dobson believes that distributors that focus on just SaaS will face problems: “We don’t think there is a lot of value that distribution can add to SaaS,” he says, “If you’re a multimillion broadliner, the ability to aggregate services has value, but that’s not what we are about.”
The exclusive agreement with iViz will be formally announced over the next few months and Dobson is still looking to strengthen its portfolio based on a defined criteria. “What we looking for in the vendor community is a cloud management capability and focus on network infrastructure and security. To be honest with you, we are waiting for the market to catch up with our aspiration.”

30 September 2011

Benetton looks to benefit from new cloud-based wireless network

Meraki distributor highlights early adopter for UK launch

Benetton is one of the first UK reference customers for a new cloud-based wireless large area network (LAN) infrastructure offering.
The retailer's flagship Regent Street front and back office store operations, as well as its UK head office nearby, have been fitted with Meraki MR14 dual-radio 802.11n wireless access points (APs).
The APs bring the benefits of cloud networking to the enterprise by delivering easy-to-use wireless connectivity with central web-based administration and management the, doing away with the additional requirement for physical WLAN controllers on site.
That's according to Scott Dobson, founder and managing director of Cloud Distribution, the exclusive value-added distributor for Meraki in the UK.
"Meraki puts all the networking intelligence into the cloud so all the end user needs to deploy is the access point," he said. "This means there is no need for technical staff to maintain the wireless network in-store. And, with no controller, the solution is typically half the cost to buy of traditional WLAN kit."
In addition the provisioning, managing and monitoring can all be managed centrally by the network administrator from any internet-connected device, anywhere, he added.

Meraki Rated “Promising” in Leading Industry Analyst Firm’s MarketScope for Wireless LAN Intrusion Prevention (WIPS) Systems

Meraki, the leader in cloud networking, today announced that it has been rated “Promising” by Gartner Inc. in the 2011 MarketScope for Wireless LAN Intrusion Prevention Systems:

This MarketScope analyzes the performance of vendors that have focused on the WLAN IPS market from the second half of 2010 through the first half of 2011. Gartner’s evaluation is based on (in order of importance) continuing discussions with Gartner clients that are using and evaluating these products, survey responses from the vendors, and interviews with reference customers that were provided by the vendors. The ratings shown quantify Gartner’s opinions of each vendor’s performance in the market and should be used as just one input in your buying decisions.

Gartner “MarketScope for Wireless LAN Intrusion Prevention Systems,” John Girard, John Pescatore, and Tim Zimmerman, July 12, 2011.

Indeed, by integrating WIPS functionality seamlessly into its cloud controlled wireless LAN, Meraki provides a highly secure wireless environment out of the box. Built-in security features include:
Two-factor authentication
Third party security audits: penetration testing, PCI compliance, SAS-70 Type II datacenter audits
Rogue AP detection, classification, and alerts
Stateful policy firewall with LAN isolation and identity-based policies
Layer 7 application firewall to block unwanted apps

Design Within Reach, a leading furniture retailer, recently deployed Meraki’s Cloud Networking solution across its 50 retail stores, warehouses, and headquarters. The deployment succeeded in preparing the network for iPads and guest WiFi, while maintaining security standards necessary in a retail environment. “While DWR extends connectivity to our customers, we must maintain strict PCI compliance,” said Roger Mueller, Director of I.T. at Design Within Reach. “Meraki gives us powerful new tools to provide the security, capacity, and management that we need in a premium retail environment.”

Meraki’s cloud platform delivers features like two-factor authentication and daily third-party security audits that are not feasible in traditional architectures. Meraki’s out-of-band control plane provides the benefits of the cloud while maintaining PCI and HIPAA compliance. Meraki includes complete wireless security at no additional cost, with no extra hardware or software licenses to purchase. Meraki also integrates seamlessly with third-party WIDS/WIPS systems.

About Meraki
Meraki is the recognized leader in Cloud Networking. 100% cloud-based from day one, Meraki’s architecture delivers out-of-the-box security, scalability, and management to enterprise networks. Meraki has been deployed in over 18,000 customer networks worldwide, including Stanford University, British Telecom, Burger King, Starbucks, and M.I.T. Meraki is located in San Francisco, California, and is funded in part by Sequoia Capital and Google. For more information, visit http://meraki.com.

About the MarketScope
The MarketScope is copyrighted 2011 by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The MarketScope is an evaluation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner’s analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the MarketScope, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest rating. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

28 September 2011

Renton School District Selects Meraki for Nation’s First Campus-Wide 3-stream 802.11n Network

Meraki, the Leader in Cloud Networking, today announced that Renton School District selected Meraki’s MR24 cloud controlled wireless access points to provide enterprise-class WiFi to Renton’s 16,000 students, faculty and staff. The Renton School District deployment covers 28 sites, including elementary, middle and high schools, the district office, facilities, and the football stadium. Renton is the first school district in the nation to adopt the latest generation of 802.11n WiFi, featuring 3-stream, 900 Mbps performance.

Meraki’s high performance MR24 access points are centrally managed by the award-winning Meraki Enterprise Cloud Controller. “Meraki allows me to manage the network across the entire district, and I’m a team of one,” said Todd Baker, Network Administrator for Renton School District. “The capabilities of Meraki’s Cloud Controller are incredible. There’s one dashboard for everything, from provisioning APs to troubleshooting client issues. The ease of use and powerful tools greatly reduce my site visits.”

The Meraki MR24, an ultra high-performing 3-stream 802.11n access point, is ideal for dense classroom environments and high-bandwidth applications. Renton is rolling out 352 MR24s in a deployment totalling more than 415 Meraki access points. The campus-wide coverage supports Renton’s Computer on Wheels (COW) program, which provides classrooms with “COW carts” to stream video, data and other media.

Renton leveraged Meraki’s contract with the Washington Learning Source (WLS), which facilitates deployments for Washinton state school districts. Prior to selecting Meraki, Baker carefully evaluated a number of networking vendors. In a performance test of 2 finalists, the Meraki MR24 outperformed in WiFi range. Moreover, the ease of use and reliability of Meraki’s cloud controller impressed Baker. “I’ve had a controller go bad on me in the past. With Meraki’s cloud controller, I’ll never have to deal with that again,” Baker said.

In selecting Meraki, Renton School District saved $1 million, enabling it to invest in new classroom learning technologies. “This project was funded by our community from the 2008 voter approved Technology Levy,” said Stosh Morency, Director of Information Management Services. “Working with Meraki allowed the district to add wireless building-wide in 28 facilities and still finish $1 million under budget. These savings will fund additional technology in our classrooms helping keep our students ahead of the curve.”

About Meraki
Meraki is the leader in Cloud Networking. 100% cloud-based from day one, Meraki’s architecture delivers out-of-the-box security, scalability, and management to enterprise networks. Meraki has been deployed in over 18,000 customer networks worldwide, including Stanford University, British Telecom, Burger King, Starbucks, and M.I.T. Meraki was named a visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Wireless LAN, and won Techworld’s Wireless and Mobility Product of the Year. Meraki is located in San Francisco, California, and is funded in part by Sequoia Capital and Google. For more information, visit www.meraki.com.

About Renton School District
Renton School District educates students enrolled in its 23 elementary, middle and high schools in and around the city of Renton in King County, Washington. The award winning school district is at the frontier of technology implementation in accordance with its technology plan to promote and facilitate learning with emerging networking technologies.

14 September 2011

We Worry About Security So You Don’t Have To

Security concerns are so often top of mind for networking and cloud services in general. We’ve built our cloud-based networks with a focus on security since the beginning, and recently Gartner rated Meraki as “Promising” in the 2011 MarketScope for Wireless LAN Intrusion Prevention Systems:

This MarketScope analyzes the performance of vendors that have focused on the WLAN IPS market from the second half of 2010 through the first half of 2011. Gartner’s evaluation is based on (in order of importance) continuing discussions with Gartner clients that are using and evaluating these products, survey responses from the vendors, and interviews with reference customers that were provided by the vendors. The ratings shown quantify Gartner’s opinions of each vendor’s performance in the market and should be used as just one input in your buying decisions.

Gartner “MarketScope for Wireless LAN Intrusion Prevention Systems,” John Girard, John Pescatore, and Tim Zimmerman, July 12, 2011.

Beyond protecting your network using WIPS tools, don’t forget you can bolster the overall security of your wireless networks today by using some of the security features below. Just check a box to enable:
Account security tools
Account security tools
These tools supplement other built-in security features, such as the stateful policy firewall and https / secure connections, and they’re are completely integrated into our cloud-based architecture. That architecture also enables features that aren’t possible with traditional architectures, such as daily third-party security audits of our SAS 70 Type II hosted infrastructure.

Using these features, Meraki customers can easily maintain secure wireless environments in security-conscious deployments, for example in retail, healthcare, or financial services.

Leading furniture retailer Design Within Reach recently deployed Meraki’s Cloud Networking solution across its 47 retail stores, warehouses, and headquarters. The deployment succeeded in preparing the network for iPads and guest WiFi, while maintaining security standards necessary in a retail environment. “While DWR extends connectivity to our customers, we must maintain strict PCI compliance,” said Roger Mueller, Director of I.T. at Design Within Reach. “Meraki gives us powerful new tools to provide the security, capacity, and management that we need in a premium retail environment.”

Design Within Reach MyDeco application
Design Within Reach MyDeco application

Read the case study to learn more about how Design Within Reach uses wireless to increase customer engagement.

07 September 2011

Slow Down, Rather Than Ban Student Facebook Access

A story that ran this weekend in the NY Times about how students are getting around outright Facebook network blocks at school caught my attention. As kids prepare to return to their classrooms, it might be a good moment to reconsider whether such blocks are truly effective.

Yes, the notion of proxy servers has been around almost as long as the Web itself, and students can easily find the location of dozens of these services that are used to circumvent Facebook (and other objectionable content). It takes about a minute to type in a Google search and load up your URL in their handy forms and off you go, block or no block. Certainly, some network admins are more diligent about blocking these proxy sites, but given the number of them, it is a losing battle.

I know something about this first-hand, having taught a high school networking class back in 2001-2. Back then, we had hard-wired PCs in our networked classroom, and few of the kids had their own laptops. It was a very simple matter to walk around the lab and pull the Ethernet plug out of anyone's computer who was surfing somewhere they shouldn't, and after a while, the mere threat of pulling the plug was enough to increase peer pressure to stick to the day's instruction. But now we have universal Wi-Fi and more kids toting laptops, so what can you do?

The best advice isn't to block, but to slow things down. Many network admins that I have spoken to over the years use some kind of WAN optimization/firewall appliance to detect these destinations such as Facebook and AIM and allow access, just very slow access. You can dial down the speed to specific sites and protocols, and make it something that will take just long enough that most kids will tire of waiting for the page to reload, and move on to their legit studies.

We covered these WAN optimization and control technologies in our story here.

05 September 2011

Manhattan’s Bryant Park Selects Meraki to Provide Free Public WiFi

Meraki, the leader in Cloud Networking, has announced the deployment of Meraki’s wireless LAN solution throughout Bryant Park in Manhattan. Bryant Park Corporation’s network provider, Sky-Packets, deployed Meraki to provide free WiFi throughout the 9.6-acre park for all visitors.

The award-winning Bryant Park, located on 6th Avenue between 40th and 42nd, includes the longest expanse of grass in Manhattan south of Central Park and is a prime New York City destination for locals and tourists alike. Daily attendance counts often exceed 800 people per acre, making it the most densely occupied urban park in the world.

Bryant Park has offered free WiFi since 2002. But the explosion of demand for wireless Internet access caused by the proliferation of tablets, smartphones, and laptops necessitated an upgrade. Bryant Park Corporation selected Meraki for a more robust solution that would support heavy usage and provide better management and reporting.

“Bryant Park was one of the first to offer free WiFi in the city,” explained Henry Quintin, CEO of Sky-Packets. “Their 2002 network set a standard for WiFi at the time, and many people took advantage of the free service. As new WiFi devices became popular and the demand for the network escalated, it was clear that the existing infrastructure needed a change. By implementing a Meraki wireless mesh solution, we have been able to increase coverage, capacity, and throughput throughout the Park. Bryant Park has once again set the standard for free public Wi-Fi access.”

George Townley, Director of Information Systems for Bryant Park Corporation, confirmed that new mobile devices are having a huge impact.

“We used to see a lot of laptops in the park, but now it has shifted to smart phones and iPads,” he said. “Usage is going up astronomically.”

Since the Meraki deployment, the Bryant Park network averages over 20,000 distinct clients per month. Monday night movie nights are particularly crowded, with nearly 2000 users on the network. During such busy periods, Townley utilizes Meraki’s built-in layer seven application traffic shaping to maintain quality of service for everyone.

“The very fact that we have that level of control with Meraki is great,” Townley said.

DNA Info recently named Bryant Park one of the best hotspots in the city, and Townley says users are delighted with the new network.

“We follow the Twitter feeds, and in the past we would only see comments if the WiFi was down or slow,” he said. “But since we put in Meraki, all the feedback seems to be positive.”

31 August 2011

Adtran buys Wi-Fi vendor Bluesocket - NetworkWorld

Another failing Wireless LAN vendor is snaffled up by a hardware manufacturer... consolidation in the space and survival of the fittest I guess. Read on:

Enterprise Wi-Fi vendor Bluesocket has been bought by Adtran, which plans to hammer Bluesocket's "virtualized" wireless LAN like a stake into the hearts of its WLAN rivals, Ciscoand Aruba Networks.

Wi-Fi client surge forcing fresh wireless LAN thinking

Adtran is betting that enterprises making the massive shift to pervasive 802.11n WLANs, will also want to add a virtual wireless architecture to their existing, VMware-based virtualized services. With Bluesocket's approach, customers can eliminate the costs and overhead of hardware controllers, and be sure of having the backend resources to cope with the flood of Wi-Fi devices seeking access, according to Adtran.

Announced yesterday, the acquisition was completed Aug. 4. Adtran executives had concluded earlier that a WLAN product offering was a strategic necessity and evaluated a number of possible acquisitions to obtain one. They settled on Bluesocket to leverage the rising tide of 802.11n network upgrades and offer a virtualized service that would fit easily into enterprise data centers, which are a VMware stronghold.

30 August 2011

Six Ways Retailers Are Using Mobile to Supplement the Store

More consumers are turning to tablets and smartphones to shop, but this back-to-school season major retailers are using mobile to drive traffic to stores, not necessarily to encourage online transactions.

That's not to say that brick-and-mortar retailers don't allow for purchases in mobile apps -- Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has seeded shopping in its mobile app, as have JC Penney, Target and others. Yet mobile commerce doesn't seem to be a major theme for the back-to-school season. Instead, retailers are using mobile marketing to help customers once they're at physical locations rather than to encourage them to buy through mobile devices.

"By and large, the majority of retailers at the moment are using mobile to add to the in-store experience," said Geoffrey Handley, co-founder of Meredith Corp. mobile agency the Hyperfactory.

Consumers are expressing interest in shopping on mobile devices, especially when it comes to tablets. (Though at this point, it's pretty much an iPad-only game; even Google, whose Android software competes with Apple's, launched its new Catalog app on iPad first.) The National Retail Federation found that nearly 40% of college shoppers and 30% of K-12 shoppers with tablets say they plan to use them to purchase products for school this year. That's a greater percentage than those who said they would use the device to compare prices or conduct product research, according to the survey of more than 8,000 respondents.

But with smartphones, it's a different picture. Consumers are less enthusiastic about making purchases: Nearly 20% of K-12 shoppers and 17% of college shoppers say they will make purchases with their smartphones. But more than 30% in both camps saying they will compare prices with those devices.

For mobile commerce, online retailers are definitely leading the way. In 2010, eBay reported nearly $2 billion in gross merchandise volume from mobile. The company expects to double that to $4 billion in mobile sales this year.

"The area of [mobile-]commerce is definitely growing, but most retailers are still heavily invested in stores," said Mr. Handley. "Mobile provides a quick win when it aids retail."

Here, Ad Age highlights retailers' mobile apps and strategies for back-to-school and beyond.

U.K.-based retailer TopShop has teamed up with SCVNGR, a location-based mobile gaming app, in an effort to get shoppers into its stores this season. Beginning Sept. 5, anyone near a store can play using the SCVNGR app. Players choose the reward they want, such as a 20% in-store discount or a shopping spree, and complete challenges like taking a picture of their favorite back-to-college outfit at TopShop in order to earn points toward the reward.

Finish Line
Earlier this month, Finish Line unveiled a new app that gives shoppers access to real-time inventory at the store nearest them. Users can check to see if an item is available in the style, size and color they're looking for. Transactions can be completed on the app, but it also uses geo-tracking to provide store information and directions from the user's location.

Wet Seal
The teen retailer is taking a different approach to mobile this back-to-school season by offering shoppers a free Android phone (with a new two-year plan plus data) just for coming into a story and trying on jeans. Talk about a traffic driver.

Amazon Student
Launched just in time for the back-to-school shopping season, Amazon's new app allows students to check prices and comparison shop by scanning barcodes. Users can also scan the barcode of an item they no longer want -- think books, games, movies and electronics -- to find out its trade-in value, redeemable for Amazon gift cards.

Google Catalogs
This free app for tablets enables shoppers to browse and interact with catalogs. There are all the expected bells and whistles -- find products in store, buy online, watch related videos -- as well as some cool extras, such as the ability to create collages, search for products across different catalogs and add a retailer to a favorites tab for immediate notification when a new catalog hits. Launch partners include: Anthropologie, Bloomingdale's, Crate and Barrel, L.L. Bean, Macy's, Nordstrom, Sephora, Williams-Sonoma and others.

College bookstores beware. A bevy of apps have popped up that allow students to compare prices on new, used, electronic and rental textbooks by scanning a barcode. Students can also rent or buy directly via the app. Chegg, CampusBooks and Kno are a few of the companies playing in the space. And why not? The National Association of College Stores estimates that the average full-time student spends $483 annually on course materials.

24 August 2011

The sleekest rugged APs you’ve ever seen

It’s been a busy summer at Meraki, and today we’re excited to announce two new outdoor APs – the MR62 and MR66. They bring Meraki’s leading security, performance, and management to harsh outdoor and industrial indoor wireless networks. They’re rugged (IP67 rated) and sleek at the same time. See for yourself:
MR66 Cloud Managed AP
MR66 Cloud Managed AP
The MR66 includes dual-band, dual-concurrent radios, with speeds up to 600 Mbps for high performance in the most demanding environments. The single-radio MR62, with speeds up to 300 Mbps, is designed for value-oriented outdoor WLANs. They both have all the enterprise class features required for modern wireless networks, including:
  • Layer 7 application traffic shaping
  • Client fingerprinting
  • Stateful firewall
  • NAC
  • Band steering (for the MR66)
  • Auto RF
  • Mesh networking
The APs are designed to be deployed in harsh outdoor conditions and are able to survive temperature and precipitation extremes. They’re also ideal for harsh indoor environments, such as industrial and manufacturing applications, where dust or high particle content may be problematic. They weatherproof, dustproof, and powered by PoE 802.3af.
MR66 rear view
MR66 rear view

The new models won’t break the bank, either — the MR62 lists at $699 and the MR66 lists at $1299 and they’re available for order immediately. Our comparison table shows the Meraki outdoor AP specs side by side. Want to get your hands on one?Sign up online for a free evaluation.

Meraki's Hotzone Solution

A little known element of Meraki's Wireless portfolio is the OD2 and the Pro dashboard. The OD2 is a low cost, indoor or outdoor, 802.11b/g Access Point which is ideally suited to camp sites, marinas, apartment blocks, coffee shops etc. who are looking for low cost, easy to deploy and manage Wireless Internet Access using a cut down version of the Enterprise dashboard which you are all familiar with.


While there is limited functionality within the Pro dashboard (feature comparison matrix), it is included FREE OF CHARGE with every OD2 purchased. 


So, if you have clients looking to offer simple, cost effective Wireless Internet Access indoors or outdoors, the OD2 and Pro dashboard might just fit the bill.

The OD2 comes complete with:

23-08-2011 12-28-40.jpg

For further information, visit:
Happy selling!

Cloud Distribution

22 August 2011

5 Apps That Hog Bandwidth on Your Network

Does your wireless connection ever feel slow and sluggish? Below are five popular applications that can consume quite a bit of bandwidth. Don’t let them bog down your network!
  • Skype and VoIP / video conferencing
  • Dropbox and online backup
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pandora
Using Meraki’s built-in application visibility makes it easy to see which apps consume the most bandwidth. A look over the past month at the application categories running on Meraki’s network reveals the top three – VoIP and video conferencing, online backup, and email – and the applications that consume the most bandwidth of each of those categories. Figure 1 shows the summary.
Figure 1: Application traffic by category
Figure 1: Application traffic by category
Checking the 5 apps listed above reveals how much bandwidth each uses on the wireless network:
  • Skype and VoIP / video conferencing – 14%
  • Dropbox and online backup – 11%
  • Facebook – 0.8% (all social web adds up to 1.1%)
  • YouTube – 3.0% (all online video adds up to 8.9%)
  • Pandora 2.5% (music apps add up to 6.7%)
A deeper dive into the online backup category shows that Dropbox is the most popular online backup application, and within that, the dashboard shows the top client devices that contribute to Dropbox usage. This was eye opening – my laptop is #2 on the list in figure 2, consuming just over 32% of all the wireless network’s Dropbox usage.
Figure 2: Application details - Dropbox
Figure 2: Application details - Dropbox
Another application consuming large amounts of bandwidth is Windows file sharing. Like many organizations, Meraki uses some file servers that store and allow sharing of files. Note here that the client consuming the most Windows file sharing bandwidth uses 38% of all the Windows file sharing activity.
What should be done if these categories are out of line with expectations or business needs? The answer is simple – use application traffic shaping to throttle undesired applications by enforcing traffic policies at the network edge (at the AP). For example, figure 4 below shows how one rule can govern peer-to-peer and online backup applications, and another rule lets VoIP and video conferencing flow freely across the wireless network.
Figure 3: Traffic shaping rules
Figure 3: Traffic shaping rules
Have you looked at your wireless network recently to see what applications are using the most bandwidth? We’d love it if you share with us a little about the most popular applications on your network.

19 August 2011

OpSource Cloud Named 'Champion' by Info-Tech Research

OpSource was recently recognized as a top Cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service vendor in an independent research study conducted by Info-Tech Research Group.OpSource was ranked among the ‘Champions’ in a quadrant landscape and rated ‘Best Value’ against other vendors and products.

Info-Tech's research evaluated each vendor's product offerings, including important features such as granular control of privacy, geographical scope of data centers, SLA service tiers, ability to back-up to cloud storage, and ease of control for the user.

Specifically, the report highlighted as OpSource's key strengths:

Guaranteed latency SLA
Ease of set-up and user maintenance
24x7 phone and email support
Support for SaaS developers

Key findings of the report include the fact that one's use case is a very important factor when selecting IaaS providers. Info-Tech recommends the OpSource Cloud as an excellent place for organizations to host their SaaS and web applications. If you would like to gain a better understanding of the Info-Tech research, please view this morning's press release or refer to a summary of the report:

Download Now

18 August 2011

Wireless to the Nth Degree

Bartlett adds that because he was open about his process and available budget, the four vendors he tested came up with comparable costs. "They came to within hundreds of dollars of each other," he says.

Ease of use was eventually the deciding factor for Bartlett and his team, which chose Meraki for the district's wireless technology. Contributing to that sense of ease is a cloud-based control solution that hosts functions customarily managed by a controller, a device that sits on the network and connects to the access points.

"It's all done through a secure web browser, so an IT administrator can deploy the network with the appropriate security and guest access policy and access control without having specialized training and wireless certifications," explains Kiren Sekar, director of marketing at Meraki. While it's common practice for wireless companies to offer a web interface, they generally still require a controller.

Bartlett says the department couldn't afford the time and cost of sending an employee to a five-day course to learn how to deploy and manage the network, nor could it "open up the manual and relearn the interface" every time a change to the wireless network was required. The new solution allows IT staff to access the wireless network to make changes and find answers to questions on the fly, even from meetings and conferences, using whatever devices are available.

The Meraki access point/cloud-based control solution incorporates a couple of security features that are especially useful in a school setting. One of these is network access control, a feature that checks devices for working antivirus software before they are allowed to connect to the network. Another feature is traffic shaping, which "can limit how devices are used, when they are used, and what types of applications can be used over them," Sekar says.

That means access points can be set to allow specific educational applications but prohibit students from accessing web sites like Netflix, game sites, or YouTube. Bartlett says that this feature is especially useful in high-traffic areas near meeting rooms and classrooms where students are not able to stream video, suck up the bandwidth, or interfere with instruction.

Bartlett says teachers who are excited by the new technology continually find new ways to use it. He makes note of an iPod reading program that would never have taken place without a better wireless infrastructure. The program's results have been phenomenal, according to Bartlett. In a matter of weeks, students moved from being low-level readers to reading above benchmarks, and classes are now seeing fewer discipline problems.

With exponential growth in the numbers of wireless devices on campus, schools are forced to quickly adjust to these more complex networking challenges, often by employing sophisticated options for managing their networks. At this point, there's no doubt that 802.11n represents the best wireless technology on the market in terms of bandwidth, speed, security, and network management--at least for now.

17 August 2011

Two Different Worlds, Two Different Wireless Networks

Posted by Lee H. Badman
August 09, 2011

Just back from a whirlwind two weeks working in both Great Britain and Haiti, and I feel compelled to reflect on the specifics and profound differences of creating WLAN environments in each location as I document the efforts. Certainly the cultures are dramatically different, but so were the solutions used, and neither is what I typically deal with in my day-to-day network administration duties. It’s been interesting, to say the least.

Let's start with London. My university (Syracuse) has a remote site in London, and for years it has limped along mostly as an island when it comes to IT. It turns out the site has a respectable wiring infrastructure, but its switching, wireless and overall networking approach was disjointed, undersized and underperforming, to the point where users would often leave the building and go elsewhere to actually get work done over the network. After a site visit from one of our managers, the right words were said and my group was on the hook to make things right for our faraway colleagues by creating a solution that allowed for us to monitor the environment from across the pond while giving the London folks some much-appreciated local administrative capabilities.

10 August 2011

Fromdistance addresses government smartphone security issues

The Finnish Parliament has been looking for a more intelligent way to support and manage its numerous mobile devices. Every time settings had to be changed, or new software had to be installed, it was carried out across more than 400 devices, one device at a time. Needless to say, the procedure took up a lot of valuable time and resources.

Luckily progress was made by the spring of 2008. A general agreement with the state’s joint purchase company paved the way for a more specified contract with Sofor, a software house producing IT solutions. Sofor, together with its subcontractor BLC Wireless, provided the eventual management service for the Finnish Parliament.

08 August 2011

Meraki implement 2FA for dashboard login

We recently introduced two-factor authentication for Meraki dashboard accounts. Administrators can add an extra layer of account security to their networks by requiring more than just a password to log in. Users continue to enter their regular username and password credentials to the dashboard login page, and then are required to enter a verification code which is sent to the user’s mobile phone via SMS. It’s secure, available at no charge for all Enterprise accounts, and setting it up is as easy as 1-2-3.
Using two-factor authentication ensures account security even in case someone writes down a password and leaves it visible to others. This is especially useful for larger organizations that have multiple network administrators.
Organization administrators can require two-factor authentication for their network administrators simply by checking a box in the organization settings page.
Force users to use two-fact authentication
Figure 1: Force users to use two-fact authentication
Users add their mobile phone number through the SMS setup page, found via the my profile page.
Setup two-factor authentication
Figure 2: Setup two-factor authentication
After enabling the two-factor authentication requirement, users logging in will be sent a verification code via text message, and will be required to enter it after entering their username and password credentials into the Meraki dashboard log in page. Logging in is straightforward:

1. Enter Meraki dashboard username and password

Dashboard login
Figure 3: Dashboard login

2. Receive SMS with verification code

Incoming SMS
Figure 4: Incoming SMS

3. Enter verification code into dashboard

Enter verification code
Figure 5: Enter verification code
That’s it! This provides another layer of protection for the dashboard account. After entering the verification code the user is sent to the dashboard page for his or her network.
We’ve also added some more account security features, including password strengthening and re-use policies, and account timeouts and lockouts (see figure 1). More information about security and reliability information of Meraki’s cloud services can be found at meraki.com/trust.