aNewDomain.net—The Meraki MR24’s most complex part is the base plate. No joke, just take a look at the installation diagram pictured below.
Fortunately, everything else about the wireless access point is simple. After bringing the review unit home, I plugged the MR24 into my DSL modem, created a Meraki account (including adding an SSID and network name), and I was online. It took only minutes.
MR24’s impressive hardware includes 802.11b/g/n/ and 802.11/a/n Wi-Fi radios that deliver a whopping throughput rate of 900 Mbit/s, so fast that I was unable to tax the connection during my battery of informal tests. The best I could do was, in between transferring large files between systems, I streamed a 4K video from YouTube that managed to use 25 percent of the maximum throughput rate, according to the dashboard.
The hardware is pretty cool by itself but the cloud-based Meraki firmware is the MR24’s secret sauce. The firmware includes a dashboard with changeable settings for users to find out what is happening on their home networks.
From the dashboard administrators can observe and control all Meraki access points across a network. This includes adjusting hardware variables like signal strength, monitoring traffic use, or applying group policies. For example, a national restaurant chain can monitor and troubleshoot the entire network from a single dashboard.
Another convenient feature is the MR24’s support for BYOD, a growing concern at all levels of enterprise. The dashboard let me quickly and easily create a separate access policy for various devices and device types. For example, the MR24 let me assign one level of access to my iPad mini—allowing it to access secure shares on my home network. But I can also set up a second policy for iPads that aren’t mine—giving them access to say, only web browsing and email.
The granularity goes even further. I was able to deny access to the network for Windows machines that did not have specific anti-virus software installed.
Security is one of the MR24’s strong points. Meraki offers a service called Air Marshall that automatically detects and contains rogue SSIDs. Naturally, most of the firewall-type features system admins have come to expect with access points are also standard and controlled via the dashboard.
Meraki’s wireless access points are a compelling, easy-to-use wireless solution for small- and medium-sized businesses that require advanced wireless solutions.
Max A. Cherney earned his writing chops gathering field intelligence and reporting on international finance and investment banking. An ad industry veteran, he has extensive experience using emerging technology in interactive marketing projects. His byline has appeared in BYTE, the SF Appeal, Indiewire, TechHive, Film Maker Magazine, and others. Max also directs commercial and documentary films. His first documentary is due in summer 2013. Max holds a Master’s degree in Writing from the California College of the Arts.Tags: Business,IT Security