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Archive for February, 2011

County elects to use Wi-Fi cloud service

February 7th, 2011 Comments off

California’s Sacramento County has moved much of its Wi-Fi networking onto a cloud management services platform and is considering adding a similar routing component to the environment.

Wi-Fi startup Meraki’s cloud service is giving the county more for its budget dollars and the management reporting depth it needs, says Joshua Voelkert, a senior IT analyst.

In 2007, the county sought change, primarily for budgetary reasons. It was running autonomous Cisco access points (AP) in about 20 of its 200 locations. At issue: the high cost and bulky design of Cisco Aironet 1230 802.11g and 1250 802.11n APs.

The county installed the 1230s and 1250s in special enclosures in certain areas, such as courtrooms, to improve their aesthetics, which made these installations even more costly.

As the network grew, the county sought a more economic alternative. The reigning Wi-Fi architecture in vogue, of course, was centralized, controller-based WLANs coupled with lightweight (managed) APs. But the county was lukewarm about that option because of the cost and “non-green” nature of controller equipment.

“We wanted to cut down on energy and capital costs, but we might have needed many [controllers] to support all our APs and still more for redundancy,” Voelkert explains.

“At the reporting end, the WLAN [controller options] required we put in more infrastructure for servers on the logging side,” Voelkert adds, explaining that the county likes to keep logs to study usage.

Meraki sells enterprise-class Wi-Fi APs that customers install locally, but hosts and maintains a WLAN controller farm in the cloud, obviating the need for buyers to purchase, install and maintain them on their own premises. Customers play a flat per-month subscription fee for the ability to access their own WLANs through a Meraki Web portal. They can thus configure, provision and manage their networks without the controller capex investment.

Voelkert says that moving to the cloud setup has yielded approximately a 45% decrease in capital expenses and about a 30% decrease in support costs.

The cloud trend is picking up: Aerohive and Aruba Networks offer similar cloud management services. And Meraki recently added a branch office routing component to the mix, which Voelkert is evaluating so he could get “a fully managed environment through a single portal.” Not to be outdone, Aerohive recently acquired Pareto Networks, a cloud routing management company, and will offer a similar option later this year.

Voelkert describes the dual-radio MR16 AP from Meraki as an “inch high, with an Apple-ish design that’s easy to hide even though it’s in plain view,” and thus requires no extra costs for special enclosures.

The county makes use of the mesh (AP-to-AP communications) capabilities of the MR16s in places where installing data network cabling is difficult or impossible. Those managing department WLANs can also use Meraki’s traffic shaping feature to manage congestion: “A department can cut a video stream to use no more than 256Kbps or 512Kbps or completely shut it off,” Voelkert says.

“A lot of departments [in Sacramento County] have not embraced wireless because of budget issues. But with Meraki, we’re able to do much more because their APs cost less,” concludes Voelkert.

Thanks Network World:

Here are Small Business Technology Solutions we are your local Meraki Partner specializing in large scale Wi-Fi deployments using their technology. Contact Us today for more information on how we can help to save you money!

Meraki Unveils Industry’s First Cloud-Managed Router

February 3rd, 2011 Comments off

Meraki today announced the release of a networking first: cloud-managed routers. In addition, details were released on a new pricing model for customers. 

The Meraki MX series of cloud-managed routers feature cloud-based centralized management. Businesses can deploy these routers in a data center and manage their networks remotely via a Web browser without the need for deploying any local network monitoring solution. MX routers can be deployed in single, stand-along networks or in massively distributed networks with thousands of branches.

The MX series comes in two models: the MX50, designed for small infrastructures, and the MX70 for larger ones.

The MX50 and MX70 are offered in two editions: Enterprise, which provides cloud-based centralized management, routing, and application shaping; and an Advanced Security Edition, which, in addition to the above features, includes site-to-site VPN and next-generation firewall capabilities.

Other features include automatic detection and monitoring of printers and showing printer ink levels across remote offices.

Meraki has also created a new Networking as a Service pricing program, a new pay-as-you go pricing model for cloud-managed network infrastructures. Networking as a Service is available for all Meraki enterprise wired and wireless products, with wireless LANs starting at $25 per access point per month and branch routers from $35 per router per month. The subscription fee includes all hardware, software licenses, support, maintenance, and upgrades. Customers can trade in their hardware for an upgrade at any time, at no cost.

Under this new pricing model, customers obtain MX routers through an annual subscription, with no upfront hardware costs. MX routers start at $35 per month. This price includes hardware, software licenses, ongoing upgrades, maintenance, and support.

Remember we are your local Wisconsin Meraki vendor, stay tuned for more information!

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