Meraki Brings Wireless into the Cloud

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

If you thought wireless networking changed the IT landscape, get ready. Wireless networking vendor Meraki has introduced a solution that brings wireless networking infrastructure into the cloud and allows MSPs and solution providers to deliver wireless networking as a service.

Wireless networking provider Meraki has launched a breakthrough Enterprise Wireless local area network (LAN) product line that pushes wireless LAN capabilities into the cloud, allowing solution providers to offer wireless as a service to businesses of any size.

The line consists of Meraki’s Enterprise Cloud Controller and two new high-performance 802.11n wireless access points (APs), the single radio MR11 and the dual radio MR14, says Meraki CEO Sanjit Biswas. The new APs offer performance much greater than many standard 100 Mbps wired networks – the MR11 can provide up to 300 Mbps throughput and the MR14 up to 600 Mbps, according to Biswas.

Meraki hosts all backend infrastructure required via a number of globally distributed data centers, and solution providers only pay for the AP hardware, then pay a monthly fee to access the wireless capabilities, he says.

"Yes, partners must invest in the AP hardware, but we provide all the backend functionality and bill on a yearly basis," he says. "It’s much more cost-efficient than purchasing traditional network hardware," Biswas says. This recurring revenue model allows solution providers and MSPs to set their own margins, depending on how extensive a customers’ deployment is.

By pushing all backend networking infrastructure into the cloud, Meraki’s WAAS solution can cut by half the cost of deploying an enterprise 802.11n wireless network, while at the same time increasing revenue opportunities for both managed service providers and traditional networking VARs, Biswas says.

"This becomes a managed service," he says. "Since the solution offers remote deployment, monitoring and management, solution providers can troubleshoot, manage, monitor and configure off-site, further reducing complexity for them," he says.

The solution also removes some of the barriers to entry faced by many traditional networking solution providers, says Biswas. Setting up Meraki’s solution requires only that customers place and turn on the APs; Meraki’s Enterprise Cloud Controller discovers the APs and configures them automatically via an Internet connection, Biswas says.

Meraki’s Enterprise Cloud Controller and APs include all the standard enterprise-class bells and whistles, says Biswas, including centralized management, integrated security features and seamless integration for Microsoft Active Directory to ensure secure user log-ins. VLANs and VPN features are supported as well, and Meraki also has introduced in the solution the ability to manage multiple geographically distributed networks from a central location.

In addition, Biswas says the solution allows for the creation of a virtual voice network that can be configured to give priority to voice packets for customers with VOIP deployments.

"We build wireless voice into the product to prioritize voice packets, which can eliminate common problems like jitters or delays," he says.

A Meraki Enterprise Wireless LAN system that can cover approximately 20,000 square feet starts at less than $3,000 while a large system that can cover as much as 500,000 square feet starts below $75,000, Biswas says, and support and maintenance are included in that pricing.

The Meraki Enterprise Cloud Controller will ship starting June 2, and Biswas says he believes the solution will completely shift the enterprise wireless world.

"Cloud computing definitely disrupted the CRM and enterprise software world, and now we see an even bigger opportunity to do the same for enterprise networking," says Biswas.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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