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.

Cloud Hosting – Infrastructure as a Service

Via Cloud Tweaks

As the fiercely competitive modern business environment continues to evolve, companies of every size are becoming increasingly aware of the many benefits presented by cloud computing. Just as mainframes eventually evolved into the current sever environment, the image of a roomful of computers in a large building will soon begin to fade. The speed, flexibility and reduced cost of cloud hosting have begun to trigger the next evolution in the IT industry.

Defining IaaS

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is one of the three primary applications of cloud hosting. Along with Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), IaaS functionality is delivered through the web in an on-demand format. Services are usually available through a fixed-price monthly subscription or billed as pay per use. In either scenario, usage and pricing can be scaled up or down to accommodate current and future needs.

From a foundational standpoint, IaaS allows virtually any application to run seamlessly across a wide variety of infrastructure elements. This includes servers, networks or storage components. IaaS provides exceptional flexibility as it conforms to the needs of the client in the private cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

Providers of IaaS hosting are available to accommodate the requirements of every business regardless of size. Issues relating to cost and privacy usually dictate how a company chooses to access IaaS through the cloud. Cost and accessibility tend to have an inverse relationship as security is enhanced and service levels increase. For example, a private cloud has substantially fewer users than a public cloud, so service costs are typically higher.

The emerging landscape for cloud hosting and IaaS continues to rapidly evolve. While many providers offer IaaS as an extension of existing hosting services, many new providers are focused solely on IaaS. This difference often revolves around underlying hardware issues, virtualization capacities and security protocols.

Benefits of Dedicated Cloud Hosting for IaaS

The benefits of IaaS within a cloud environment are so significant they are almost self-evident. The elimination of infrastructure investment is a primary driver that can result in substantial capital expense savings. On-going upgrades and asset related outlays are virtually eliminated since these services are included in package pricing. Staffing costs can be significantly reduced, and in some cases, entire departments can be eliminated. For companies with sizable investments in existing data centres, build-outs can be delayed or avoided altogether.

The size and scale of the IaaS provider presents customers with an essentially unlimited number of ways to augment business processes. Massive platforms are segmented on a per client basis which provides extraordinary economies of scale opportunities and improvements in comprehensive efficiency.

The Future of IaaS

As emerging virtualization solutions such as VMware and Microsoft Hyper- V servers continue to evolve from enterprise level implementation, IaaS through cloud hosting offers superior speed, reliability and state-of-the-art security protection.

By Jonathon Linnell/UKfast Hosting

01 August 2011

Meraki Systems Manager - Cloud Managed Desktop Management

Hi all, you may have heard about a product called Client Insight from Meraki in the recent past. This has now been re-branded as Systems Manager and is now ready for testing. 

Meraki's cloud-based centralized management provides unified views of all your devices, including mobile clients connected to third-party networks. With Meraki Systems Manager, administrators can instantly find laptops, desktops or virtual machines based on location, hostname, username or operating system with built-in search capabilities. Meraki Systems Manager operates on all commonly deployed versions of Microsoft Windows, including XP, Vista and Windows 7, as well as Mac OS X versions 10.5 through 10.6.

You can create an account by following the link above.

This link products a video overview and a features list.


INTERSPORT international chose to deploy Expand Networks’ Virtual Accelerator, for its ability to live within and accelerate out of virtualized environments. Now in place, the Virtual Accelerators are successfully protecting the performance of SAP, video conferencing and critical applications for business users across key international sites.

“Having made an investment into creating a wholly virtualized environment at INTERSPORT, it was critical that any new software must fully support VMWare in order to match the virtual network. Expand was the only product to provide this.”

Jicky Li, Network Administrator, at INTERSPORT International