More Features and Products from Meraki

More Features and Products from Meraki

By CWNP On 02/23/2011 - 32 Comments

Meraki is at that weird stage in a tech start-up’s life where it becomes hugely critical to grow sales, differentiate the products, and gain greater industry recognition. They seem to be meeting that challenge in stride with what seems like an unending series of new hardware and software product announcements. To quote Mr. Vanilla Ice, “Will they ever stop? Yo, I don’t know.” I bet their engineers are tired, though (rhyming unintentional).

The latest announcement came today and includes three product updates.

New Triple Stream AP: MR24
Meraki steps out as the first second (see blog comments to understand correction) vendor who is ready to target the enterprise by shipping triple stream APs. In numerical 802.11n speak, that’s 3x3:3 MIMO. Most enterprise APs today are 3x3:2, maxing out at 300 Mbps for each radio. With three spatial streams, that data rate ceiling has been raised to 450 Mbps. But, just because the AP theoretically supports three spatial streams and 450 Mbps, actualizing those gains is another story. What is Meraki doing about that?

First, it is important to understand that spatial multiplexing is a MIMO feature. It requires a radio chain and antenna for each unique spatial stream, so we need two radio chains and antennas for two spatial streams and three of each for three spatial streams. However, the presence of antennas and radio chains is necessary, but not sufficient. The other important issue that must be addressed is signal orthogonality or isolation. That is, the signals carrying each of the spatial streams must be sufficiently differentiated from one another so that the receiver can distinguish between them. If you can only get two reliable “differences” in RF isolation, you can only get two reliable spatial streams.

For example, think back to when MIMO APs were first released. They were all indoor APs. Indoor environments provide greater signal reflectivity, which provides greater signal distinction, allowing the gains of multiple spatial streams to be more easily realized. However, take that AP outside in a line of sight environment and suddenly your signal differentiation at the receiver is gone, so it can only reliably use a single spatial stream, which is half the throughput—that is, until vendors released dual-polarized outdoor APs. So, to really take advantage of three spatial streams, you must be able to produce signal orthogonality x3. I asked Meraki how they intend to achieve that goal, and part of the answer includes this picture.

The engineering jargon to pair with the image is that each antenna is elliptically polarized and spaced at 60 degree intervals from one another to maximize cross-polarization and isolation. What’s that mean? I’m not an antenna engineer (understatement alert), but the easy answer is that Meraki has implemented a new antenna system that maximizes signal differentiation, enhancing the likelihood of experiencing three spatial streams.

Surely many more triple stream APs are funneling down vendor queues soon, and as they come, we’ll see many more new antenna systems like this. Some will be better than others, but make no mistake that ordinary dipole antennas will become less common on high-end APs. Meraki is leading that charge with the MR24 (List $1199).

Meraki Teleworker VPN
In addition to a new triple stream AP, Meraki has also announced a teleworker VPN solution for their APs. They’re leveraging the deployment simplicity of their existing cloud solution to make this a “zero-touch provisioning” VPN. APs phone home to the controller (automatically), receive their VPN configuration directly from the cloud controller (automatically), and can then build the tunnel to the corporate data center or HQ office without admin intervention (automatically). It seems like the natural evolution of cloud-managed networking, and a nice use of Meraki’s existing assets.  The headquartered VPN concentrator will be a VMware image, keeping hardware cost and maintenance to a minimum.

Meraki Built-In NAC
Finally, Meraki has announced what seems to me to be NAC-lite. They’ve announced a custom integrated NAC feature in their APs and routers for software antivirus detection on client devices. Instead of requiring cumbersome-to-manage-and-deploy client agents, Meraki’s NAC uses a custom Java applet that launches and runs on client stations (through a web browser redirect and end-user acceptance) to detect the presence of antivirus or endpoint software packages from a list of supported software. I say it looks like NAC-lite because today it is focused solely on antivirus software detection and lacks more sophisticated insight into the OS, software patches, firewall settings, etc. Future developments will likely expand into these areas, but antivirus software will catch many of the most pesky client boogers and is a good place to start.

Meraki engineers, tell your slave driving managers that you need some rest.  :)  You’ve had a nice burst of product updates. Keep up the good work!

Tagged with: Meraki, MR24, VPN, teleworker, NAC, antivirus, spatial multiplexing, 3x3:3

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03/02/2011 at 09:46am
Thanks for the corrections and input everyone. I'm glad to know you all have my back when I goof. Jeremy, I do find the HP website for wireless products a bit confusing, but I take all the responsibility for not knowing. :) Though, I do find it odd that there was such a delay between product availability and shipment (at least a month ago) and all the announcements, which just seemed to hit this week.

03/01/2011 at 17:58pm
We ordered 90 of the HP MSM460 APs in late Janaury and received them less than a week later. They have great coverage and amazing performance.
They are definitely shipping!!!!

02/27/2011 at 21:07pm
Competition is good. Makes all the players better...even with a little smack-talk every now and then. May the best win.

02/27/2011 at 10:10am
To you guys that come out with a 3x3:3 before us... live it up while you can. :)
" advice to you is this: run and hide."
Andy Garcia - Ocean's Eleven

02/26/2011 at 13:20pm
I was just correcting misconceptions
1. "Meraki steps out as the first vendor who is ready to target the enterprise by shipping triple stream APs."
2. "FYI the HP 3×3 is shown on their website, but is not shipping to customers. The MR24 is available to you today."
Both statements were not true, so I was just setting the record straight. I think I refrained from using all of the talking points and spin. If I started down that road, my post would have been much longer :-)

02/26/2011 at 03:23am
I am loving this vendor neutral (DMZ) discussion and debate . This the perfect place to specialize in "Talking Points" and "No Spin".

02/26/2011 at 02:06am
HP's MSM430, MSM460, and MSM466 have all been shipping to customers for about two months.
Marcus said "I was just looking at HP’s APs the day before I posted this. Not sure how I missed that."
Sounds like we need to work on our website :-)

02/25/2011 at 21:08pm
Rob, who said you could take a break? Get back to work.

02/25/2011 at 15:26pm
I was just looking at HP's APs the day before I posted this. Not sure how I missed that.

02/25/2011 at 14:06pm
Clever. ;) Love the sense of humor.
I think I set myself up for failure on that one...the song is long enough til their had to be a come-back line...nice choice.
In regards to the trials, Aerohive too, first. ;)
Like my daughter used to say, "It's on like Donkey Kong."


02/25/2011 at 12:55pm
FYI the HP 3x3 is shown on their website, but is not shipping to customers. The MR24 is available to you today.
As for the rest of Devin's comment, I'll just respond to the last part, because it is the one part that I wholeheartedly agree with: don't listen to marketers like Devin and myself, try the products! Meraki has a free trial program wherein we'll ship you out a handful of APs free of charge, with no commitment. Most other vendors will do this too if you push them. Try out our traffic shaping, try out our NAC, try out our teleworker VPN, and see for yourself if it's the right technology for you.
"To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle"

02/25/2011 at 08:22am
Hi Marcus,
HP was the first to market with a 3x3:3 AP, beating Meraki by over 2 months.
Meraki's new antenna wasn't developed by Meraki, but rather by Senao, who developed most of what's in Meraki's new system. Meraki just put it into a plastic case. With a low-end CPU and a low-power radio, this unit is another example of rushed-to-market, feature-poor, SMB-class gear marketed as enterprise-class, where many features/functions are over-stated or non-existant. When you see 3x3:3 APs from vendors like Aerohive, Aruba, and Cisco come to market (shortly), then would be a good time for range, throughput, feature set, high-density, and architecture comparative analysis.
Just because a vendor says something in their marketing materials doesn't mean it's necessarily true. Sometimes it's just spin or wishful thinking.
Devinator says:
Deadly when I play a dope melody
Anything less than the best is a felony

02/24/2011 at 22:57pm
HP has had a 3 Stream AP for a few months now.

02/24/2011 at 12:43pm
We're living in the past, Rob. Thanks for joining me. :)

02/23/2011 at 18:59pm
Not that tired...
"Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it ever stop yo I don't know" (Vanilla Ice)

02/23/2011 at 13:28pm
[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Juan Carlos Basurto, Marcus Burton. Marcus Burton said: New CWNP Blog Post: More Features and Products from Meraki [...]

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