Meraki is an enterprise wireless network device manufacture that has differentiated its service by providing a cloud solution for management and configuration of the wireless nodes. The biggest advantage of this approach is the drastic reduction in recurring op-ex for enterprises around maintenance teams and license fees. MR24 is the most advanced access point from Meraki in the indoor space.
Speed: Meraki has three models in the indoor access point category and the key difference between them is the number of radios they can support simultaneously. Being the most advanced, the MR24 can support as many as 3 streams of 802.11n connections. Given that each 802.11n stream can support a theoretical throughput of 300Mbps, the MR24 can effectively support 900Mbps. This is significantly higher than most other wireless modem in the market.
The unit also supports the 802.11b and 802.11g standards to allow for backward compatibility. However, due to limitations on the underlying technology, wireless b/g networks would not support such high speeds. 802.11b supports up to 11 Mbps and 802.11g supports up to 54 Mbps.
Network Performance: When it comes to enterprise networks, the network performance becomes extremely critical. Meraki has addressed in multiple ways through RF design, radio streams, quality of service features and sleek design. In the RF design, the router has three integrated Omni-directional antennas which provide better coverage and more importantly spatial diversity. The use of MIMO with three streams allows the router to establish and support three simultaneous streams of wireless n connections. This significantly boosts the overall network performance.
In the quality of service, the router supports Wireless Multimedia which allows transmission of real time traffic like video streaming and Voice over IP. This feature allows organisations support solutions like voice solutions on the computer and video conferencing thereby enabling enterprises to perform efficiently without investing heavily in collocating people.
The router also supports 802.1p standard which allows the router to classify the traffic at a Media Access Control level. This allows the router to provide better differentiate services to support voice, video and data traffic in an acceptable manner.
Network Security: Network Security is highly critical in any enterprise. This is more important in wireless network as it is more susceptible to snooping and stray accesses. With this in mind, the Meraki solution offers several hardware level and application level security features.
At the router level, MR244 supports Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2-PSK and WPA-Enterprise with 802.1X features. WEP is a weak security feature while WPA is a more secure solution. However, depending on the standard supported by the wireless adapter of the wireless devices, various flavors of WPA can be implemented by the network admin in the enterprise. The router also supports VLAN tagging to segregate the traffic and ensuring different set of users do not access network resources designated for other users. This feature is usually great for containing access of users to certain departments within the organisation.
Meraki also offers 24×7 intrusion detection, guest isolation and integrated firewall policy. These are further security features that ensure that external devices do not gain unsupervised access to the enterprise network.
Where to Purchase?
Meraki devices can be purchased from their site by contacting their sales team. Other distributors include TigerDirect, PC Mall, PC Connection and Zones. Given the solution delivered by Meraki, it is not worthwhile purchasing just the access point – unless additional access points are needed to expand the network. In such cases, the list price of one unit is $1,199. The entire package includes access points and licence fee for accessing the cloud controller service. As per the Meraki’s calculations on their site, a small network of 10 access points can accrue a potential savings of over 80% as compared to their competitors.
Configuring Meraki Wireless Network
Purchasing the package of access points and controller solution license allows the enterprise to create an account on the Meraki Cloud services. This account gives access to the Meraki Dashboard which is used primarily to add, configure and manage wireless access points as well as the wireless network parameters. The wireless network parameters can be configured from the Configure menu on the online dashboard.
Access Control menu allows configuration of wireless network security features like the encryption, sign on method, Client IP assignment, clients blocked on VLANs, VLAN tagging, etc. Traffic shaping feature allows the administrator to control the network bandwidth to shape the traffic and reserve bandwidth for applications that are critical for the enterprise. The best part is that this shaping can be done over the cloud, remotely. Using traffic shaper function, Meraki Cloud controller allows the enterprise to truly exploit the features of access points like MR24 to the fullest extent.