Cisco Meraki : Easy to Deploy Cloud-Based & Infrastructure Solutions

Keller Schroeder IT Engineer Mike SanfordMike Sanford – [Wireless Consultant]

Do you need to be able to bring a remote office up quickly without an on-site visit?  Do you want one place to monitor wired and wireless connectivity?  Are you looking for a cloud-based solution that can provide wireless access points, switches, firewalls as well as video cameras?  If you can answer “Yes” to any of those questions, Cisco Meraki has a solution for you.

MCisco Meraki Logoeraki was founded in 2006, gaining interest as a cloud provider of wireless services.  In 2012, it was purchased by Cisco and has since branched out into the other areas of IT infrastructure mentioned above.  Their focus is providing technology that is easy to deploy and manage.  Keller Schroeder has successfully deployed most of these Meraki hardware solutions, with the exception of the video camera solution which was released in the last quarter of 2016.

Cisco Meraki DashboardWhen connected to an internet ready network, Meraki devices “phone home” and are immediately configurable from the web based Meraki Dashboard.  The Dashboard offers a single pane of glass to configure devices as well as monitor devices for up/down time and keep an eye on end user traffic.  The Dashboard provides the ability to adjust allowed bandwidth utilization and whitelist or blacklist web traffic, giving you the ability to maximize your infrastructure and internet performance.  Traffic for each piece of hardware, network and end user device is tracked and displayed in easy to view, drill-down graphs.  Information such as user, total amount and percentage of usage, applications and sites visited are available.  This information can then be used to quickly throttle bandwidth hogs, or to limit internet access by type of site or by specific site.

Meraki also offers an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution called Systems Manager.  With Systems Manager, applications and network policy can be deployed to mobile and desktop devices.  Once the easy on-boarding process is complete, a device can be monitored for location, security posture and software inventory.  The devices can also be protected by enforcing encryption policies, network access control and there is a remote enterprise wipe feature.

To learn more about our cloud solutions including Meraki, or to ask about how Keller Schroeder can perform a wireless assessment of your environment, give us a call at 812-474-6825 or contact your Keller Schroeder Select Account Manager.


The Evolving Use Cases for Wireless Networking

Ty Nixon[Network Consultant]

Since its official conception in 1997, the standardized group of technologies commonly known as Wi-Fi have greatly evolved to meet changing business needs and environmental demands.  The use cases for wireless networking have grown exponentially from the basic data services of the late 90’s.  Below is a list of needs that today’s wireless solutions commonly seek to fulfill.


Data Services

Just as with the original 802.11 standard, today’s current amendment of 802.11ac allows for data services.  However, the similarities end there.  Historically, perhaps the most significant hurdle with migrating data services to wireless technologies has been the severe limitations of wireless connectivity speeds, in comparison to speeds of wired devices.  The recent amendment of 802.11ac promises to significantly narrow the gap between the technologies.  The 802.11ac theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps dwarf the speeds of earlier amendments.  The vertical markets now being targeted by wireless technology manufacturers are virtually endless.


VoWIFI

Voice services over Wi-Fi (VoWIFI) have been brought to the forefront of the use cases for wireless over the past decade.  Aided by the adaptation of VOIP technologies, enterprises of all sizes can now offer support for mobile devices within a geographical area using unlicensed radio frequency bands.  IEEE and Wi-Fi Alliance publications have also provisioned means by which to integrate robust wired networking feature sets such as Quality-of-Service (QoS), Network Access Control, multicast routing support, and Power Save with these devices.  These advancements allow a fully-converged and collaborative network to extend beyond the wires.


Location-Based Services

Location-based services such as RFID, GPS, and asset tracking systems have been brought into the spotlight in many vertical markets.  These technologies allow real-time tracking, reporting, and analysis of wireless devices throughout a property or facility.  Manufacturing, distribution, and physical plant management groups now use technologies such as Wi-Fi to aid in obtaining the location of infrastructure and assets.  Many times, data generated from a wireless location service can be fed to other analytical applications, creating a more streamlined and meaningful business process.


Ptp and Backhaul

Though less common than other applications, the practice of leveraging Wi-Fi technologies for use as site-to-site links is a perfect fit for some business needs.  Often, such as when bridging between two physical locations, the cost of extending networks via wireless equipment proves to be far less than the cost of installing buried or aerial cabling.  With the advent of 802.11 amendments such as “n” and “ac”, speeds and resiliency equivalent to wired Ethernet can be achieved.


Overall, wireless technologies have never been more prevalent than they are today.  With recent amendments by the IEEE and the Wi-Fi Alliance, speeds of modern wireless networks often approach or surpass those of wired Ethernet.  Wireless technologies have also gained traction in environments with mobility and location needs.  Additionally, wireless technologies can offer resiliency and redundancy that meets or surpasses the redundancy seen on wired Ethernet networks, often at a fraction of the cost.

Keller Schroeder offers full solutions centered on wireless technologies from multiple manufacturers.  Our company also performs comprehensive pre-installation and post-installation site surveys, using industry-leading tool sets.  To learn more about how Keller Schroeder’s wireless offerings can help meet your business needs, contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager.


Spotlight On…

Employee Owner: Lee Lamey


LeeLameyLee has over 11 years of experience in the Information Technology field. He was the lead Network Administrator for a large healthcare organization where he designed and implemented the Cisco network infrastructure including Route/Switch, Security, and Wireless. He also assisted in maintaining the Microsoft Active Directory domain services in an environment with over 300 servers. His most recent efforts have been centered around planning and designing networks for several small and medium businesses for all infrastructure areas including Local and Wide Area Networks as well as voice and data servers. In addition to these infrastructure projects, he has acted as the lead deployment and troubleshooting engineer for a large radiation therapy manufacturing company where he focused on network connectivity and server systems on the radiation machine. Within his role at Keller Schroeder, Lee supports clients’ Networking, Microsoft, VMware and NetApp Virtualization solutions. Lee is a Senior Systems Consultant.


Lee’s certifications include: Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)


Lee and his wife Beckie have been married 16 years and have 4 children, Brayden, Ava, Easton and Owen. His free time is filled with family, camping and CrossFit!


Contact the Keller Schroeder Account Team to learn more about Lee and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.


Meraki (Balboa) II

Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director


The deployment and support of wireless networks continues to grow both in prevalence and in complexity. Whether organizations are seeking to support mobility among traditional laptops, expanding their wireless support to provide connectivity for devices such as tablets and smartphones, or providing guest wireless access to their customers, the requirements continue to drive the installation or modification of wireless infrastructure. As that complexity increases, many organizations are looking for ways to simplify the deployment and management of those networks and the devices which use them.


Meraki, a recently acquired part of Cisco, provides a complete networking infrastructure solution aimed specifically at solving that complexity issue for both wireless and wired networks. Meraki’s products offer completely cloud managed networking.


The benefits to the organizations that deploy those solutions include functionality such as:

  • the ability to manage all network devices from a single dashboard
  • the ability to control applications and devices
  • the confidence of a PCI and HIPAA-compliant infrastructure
  • a platform that scales from small sites to the largest of enterprises
  • the removal of a requirement to install or maintain wireless controller hardware and management software


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Meraki offers products in the wireless, switching, and security spaces, as well as a no-cost mobile device management solution that supports iOS, Android, Windows, and OS X devices on any network. All of the Meraki solutions can be deployed, configured, and maintained from their cloud-based network management platform. This allows for simple centralized administration of network hardware across any number of remote sites, includes easy to configure network visibility and management functionality for alarms and reporting, natively supports role-based administration and auditable change logs, and can provide application and user device visibility across managed devices.


The control traffic that communicates with the Meraki cloud management software operates in a manner that keeps network management data completely separate from user data. Management data (configuration, monitoring, performance) flows from Meraki devices to the cloud management platform over a secure Internet connection. An organization’s private data does not flow through the cloud; it always flows directly through the company network to its intended destination. This architecture provides considerable scalability by eliminating controller bottlenecks, great reliability through redundancy in the cloud management application and allowing traffic to pass even if management traffic is interrupted, and maintains full compliance with HIPAA and PCI requirements.


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Meraki has taken a very detailed approach to ensuring the security of their cloud-based offering. They have five geographically diverse tier-1 SAS70 Type II certified data centers that host their environment, and customers’ configuration and usage metrics are replicated across three independent datacenters with real-time data replication. Beyond the physical security of the data, they offer functionality like two-factor authentication, password policies, idle timeouts, role-based administration, configuration change alerting, configuration and login auditing. All of these features are provided as native functionality of their Systems Manager solution that is part of each of their devices.


If simplified network deployment and network management are valuable to your organization, or if your organization is looking for ways to have a better view and control of the traffic and devices that are using network resources, Meraki’s solutions may be a good fit for your needs. Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager to schedule a time to further discuss your organization’s network needs and the Cisco Meraki solution.



Finding MIMO – Cisco’s 802.11N products are here!

Have a need for faster wireless access? Cisco is now offering 802.11n Access Points capable of speeds as fast as 300 Mbps over both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio frequencies. This is accomplished using MIMO (pronounced “mee-moh”) or Multiple Input, Multiple Output technology for enhanced reliability.

The following are highlights regarding the two current 802.11n Access Point models from Cisco.


Aironet 1140 Series

 

  • Indoor access point
  • Integrated 2.4 GHZ & 5 GHz antennas
  • Gigabit Ethernet connection required
  • Currently only available in LWAPP mode

    Aironet 1250 Series

     

  • Indoor Rugged access point
  • First enterprise-class access point to support IEEE 802.11n draft 2.0 standard
  • 3 RP-TNC external antenna connectors per frequency
  • Gigabit Ethernet connection required
  • Available in LWAPP or IOS mode


    With new technology comes new responsibility – and often new questions. Below are a few of those you may find yourself or your co-workers asking:What about my current Cisco wireless infrastructure?
    No need to worry about incompatibilities with your current WLAN the 802.11n APs from Cisco are fully backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g!Can I simply upgrade my current Cisco 1100/1200 Series AP to 802.11n?
    Unfortunately, current access points are not upgradeable to 802.11n.Will my current Cisco Wireless LAN Controller support 802.11n?
    Absolutely! We may need to install the latest WLC software, but 802.11n is supported!Could I build a wireless bridge using the Cisco 1250 AP?
    Yes, the 1250 can be configured for bridging in autonomous mode. This would provide a quick ROI when compared to monthly circuit costs.For those readers that enjoy geeking-out or just reading up on the technical specifications of new products, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the following: 802.11n: The Next Generation of Wireless PerformanceIf you think the new 802.11n speeds are for you, contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more or discuss the benefits of implementing 802.11n technology within your environment.