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Meraki Adds To Cloud Networking Lineup

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Networking provider Meraki on Wednesday added three products to its cloud-based platform, unveiling a triple-stream access point, integrated network access control (NAC), and a plug-and-play VPN device geared for remote and mobile workers.

The lineup was developed with what Meraki refers to as "open networks" in mind. The phrase is intended to reflect the diminishing control administrators have over their corporate networks, according to Meraki director of marketing Kiren Sekar.

"People are bringing iPads into their offices. People are bringing their laptops home. People are expecting home access. They're mixing HD YouTube videos with cloud-based applications," Sekar said in an interview. "When we talk to our customers, this shift has been unsettling to many of them."

The new MR24 wireless access point features triple-stream MIMO technology, which means each radio can use three antennas simultaneously, producing 900 Mbps throughput.

Sekar hopes the new Meraki NAC, which is built into the company's WLAN routers rather than acting as a standalone device, will foster better adoption of the security technology, especially among smaller companies. Existing Meraki wireless routers will get the NAC option by a free software download, and the functionality will now ship as an integrated feature on new devices.

"With the exception of large enterprises, practically no one is deploying NAC," Sekar said. "Everyone likes the idea of having more protection and safeguards on their network, but I think the complexity has really just been too high a hurdle." He said a key feature of the Meraki NAC is a policy-based control that will check every client for antivirus software before allowing it on the network.

Meraki's networking systems are managed online. Though networking might not draw the attention that servers or certain software applications do in the cloud, it has considerable benefit to both vendor and customer, according to Sekar.

"It lets us have a very high-end enterprise feature set, but have something that's accessible to businesses of all sizes," Sekar said. Meraki has roughly 17,000 networks deployed worldwide. Sekar said that although Meraki has some very small customers -- as well as some very large ones -- most of the company's current client base tends toward the midmarket.

"Our traditional customer base has been in the 100 to 2,000 [employee] range," Sekar said.

The Teleworker VPN product was developed for remote and mobile workers -- it creates a plug-and-play secure VPN tunnel into corporate networks from any Web-enabled location without client-side software.

"The IT administrator doesn't have to configure anything manually," Sekar said.

Sekar said the product is device-agnostic and will work with just about any hardware. The Teleworker VPN will not secure Internet traffic outside the corporate network. That's by design, so as not to clog up company bandwidth.