Friday, February 20, 2015

Cisco Meraki MR34 review


1)Intro
2)Features
3)Setup
4)Wireless configuration
5)Throughput tests (Wireless/Wired)
6)Firmware notes
7)Closing Notes
Intro: The Cisco Meraki MR34 is a enterprise level wireless access point that is affordable for small to medium businesses, has lots of features, is cloud managed so it can be controlled and administrated from any computer with an internet connection, and can tolerate a lot of heavy usage that enterprises require.  
Features: The MR34 features the following:
1) Dual band 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz operation with 3 x 3 MIMO connectivity at up to 1.75Gbps with dedicated 3rd radio for Air Marshall/WIDS/Spectrum (Note: 3rd radio only works in 802.3at mode and NOT in 802.3.af mode!)
2) 1 wired Gigabit LAN/PoE port (802.3at/af)
3) 4 3x3 mimo  x 5dBi  dual band internal antennas with 20dBm output power for great wireless coverage
4) SSIDs with configurable VLANs for each one providing more security then standard guest networks
5) Full VLAN configuration
6) Full and extremely detailed traffic shaping (QoS) and firewall controls (L3 and L7)
7) Fixed and DHCP client address assignments
8) Fully customizable user/group policies
9) And lots more
Setup:
1) Power is over injector or PoE ports
2) Setup is done over Meraki cloud controller and is able to be done before you get the AP so it’s plug n play!
Let's take a look at the really helpful status page that tells us all our status.

Wireless Configuration:
Here’s the WLAN config screens:
Radio Settings:

Security Settings:

The MR34 supports WPA/WPA2 and supports PSK and Enterprise authentication types that can be different for each SSID. Selecting “Enterprise” allows you to use Meraki Authentication, which allows you to define a username and password rather then a static key, allowing for more fine control over your wireless network. User based controls allow you to define limits PER USER so that if let’s say, they get fired, you just delete thier user account and not have to change the ENTIRE NETWORK’S encryption key.
Traffic Shaping:
You can do traffic shaping to make sure each client has equal bandwidth and also to make sure certain clients that are more important have more bandwidth then other clients like important servers, mission critical workstations, etc. Very useful.

RF analytics:
Note: There is a 3rd radio for spectrum, however you need an 802.3AT power source and will NOT work with 802.3af
This is a very neat feature of the MR34. You can see a real time spectrograph of the RF!
Pros: awesome display and eliminates the need to always have spectrum tools all the time
Cons: does not list sources of non 802.11 interference like bluetooth, xbox, cordless phone, baby monitors, etc
 



Updated note: I just got a response from someone at Cisco Meraki and here's what they do have to say about the RF monitor:

The RF Spectrum page DOES show all the interference, it's just that it's not deciphering those into various types in the UI. However, interference from non 802.11 sources IS included in the Auto RF channel assessment.
Throughput Tests: (Wireless)
I will be using LAN Speed test for the throughput tests and PRTG to generate the graphs. It also is a comprehensive enterprise level network monitoring software and it can record uptime, transfer rates, errors, etc.
Test environment: (Set 1)
Specs of Building: This is going through about 32 ft through 2 walls, a solid all-wood dresser, and a chimney. The room has plaster walls in some places.
Specs of server :(my machine in the same room as theMR34): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: (remote machine in other room): AGNXAndrakon/AMD Phenom 9650/4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Amped Wireless ACA1 USB WLAN connection:USB3 via a PCI-Express addon card.
5Ghz 802.11anac mode: Channel 149+ -52dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 34Mbytes/sec or 272Mbits/sec

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -45dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 10Mbytes/sec or 80Mbits/sec

Test environment: (Set 2)
Specs of Building Test Run 1: 16Ft away thru a wood door hallway right outside the office where the MR34 is located.
Specs of server (my machine in the same room as theMR34): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: HP2000-412NR/AMD E300/8GB DDR3 RAM/300 GB HDD/AMD RADEON 6310/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/RalinkRT5390 WLAN

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -27dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 6Mbytes/sec or 48Mbits/sec

Same laptop with Edimax AC600 (channel 149+ -51dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 12Mbytes/sec or 96Mbits/sec

Test environment: (Set 3)
Specs of server :(my machine in the same room as theMR34): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client (Downstairs 35ft thru 3 walls and a staircase): HP /Core 2 Duo/2GB DDR2 RAM/20GB HD/Intel GMA/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/NETGEAR A6200 WiFi USB3.0 Adapter
5Ghz 802.11anac mode: Channel 149+ -42dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 16Mbytes/sec or 128Mbits/sec

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -52dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 8Mbytes/sec or 64Mbits/sec

Conclusion:
Pros:

  • Excellent management software with lots of options
  • Very solid connectivity
  • Very high throughput
  • Cloud controller makes stuff easy as plug in play with remote deployment
  • Very robust security controls and options



Cons:
  • No non-802.11 RF interference in spectrum analysis
  • No error rate details on clients

Rating:  9/10
Recommended: Yes

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Xirrus XR-520 review




1)Intro
2)Features
3)Setup
4)Wireless configuration
5)Throughput tests (Wireless/Wired)
6)Closing Notes
Intro: The Xirrus XR-520 is a enterprise level wireless access point that is somewhat affordable for small to medium businesses, has lots of features and can tolerate a lot of heavy usage that enterprises require.
Review Note: I have been provided two arrays to test the really cool roaming features.
Features: The XR-520 features the following:
1) Dual band 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz operation with 3 x 3 MIMO connectivity at up to 450Mbps
2) Two configuration interfaces - Both Local and XMS Cloud. XMS cloud is remote managed anywhere
3) 1 wired Gigabit LAN port (PoE/ ETH)
4) 4 3x3 mimo  x 5dBi  dual band internal antennas with 20dBm output power for great wireless coverage
5) SSIDs with configurable VLANs for each one providing more security then standard guest networks
6) Full VLAN configuration
7) Full and extremely detailed traffic shaping (QoS) and firewall controls
8) Full client connectivity details and monitoring.
9) Fixed and DHCP client address assignments
10) Fully customizable user/group policies
11) Full Intrusion Protection Services
12) SNMP
13) And lots more
Setup:
1) Power brick was a POE injector. Allows for just one cable into the AP.
2) Instant setup was done with the cloud management system and was easy as the Meraki one was. Took a bit longer to configure itself, however.
3) There are two config areas. One is locally served on the device and offers fine control over each array and there also is XMS cloud which has basic controls, however unifies the configuration of all arrays.
4) The 2nd array I got was only working long enough to obtain an IP address than shortly after it became offline and refused to work. Working with support on this issue. Got RMAed and a 2nd 2nd array was shipped pretty promptly.
5) Also when I set anything on XMS cloud it clears the NATIVE VLAN setting on the local config and I have to re-enable it to get clients to connect again!
6) I was told by support to remove the first VLAN (VLAN10) off the pinkiepiepie and rainbowdash SSIDs so that the “native VLAN” doesn’t need to be reset every time the XMS cloud config gets pushed through. This is the equivalent of having the VLAN untagged without switch re-config.
Let's take a look at the really helpful status page that tells us all our status. (XMS Cloud)


Status Page (Local config):

Wireless Configuration:
Here’s the WLAN config screens:
Radio Settings (XMS Cloud):

Local Config:

Security Settings (XMS Cloud):






















Local Config:

The XR-520 supports WPA/WPA2 and supports PSK and Enterprise authentication types that can be different for each SSID. Selecting “Enterprise” allows you to use Xirrus Authentication, which allows you to define a username and password rather then a static key, allowing for more fine control over your wireless network. User based controls allow you to define limits PER USER so that if let’s say, they get fired, you just delete thier user account and not have to change the ENTIRE NETWORK’S encryption key.
Roaming:
The roaming works pretty well, however in order to avoid the sticky client issue the transmit power has to be carefully configured and tweaked in order to avoid that. By default the transmission values did not allow for the actual roaming to occur and for my case they needed to be set to 1dBm for the upstairs in 2.4Ghz and 2dBm for the downstairs in 2.4Ghz. 5Ghz has 7dBm downstairs and 12dBm upstairs. I will note the values go up to 20dBm!
There’s also something called “roaming assist” to help with sticky client issues, which I have a lot on Samsung phones.  
Throughput Tests: (Wireless)
Note: These are done on one array at a time and the 2nd array was disconnected to give you raw throughput PER ARRAY and the coverage values have been reset to factory default (20dBm)
I will be using LAN Speed test for the throughput tests and PRTG to generate the graphs. It also is a comprehensive enterprise level network monitoring software and it can record uptime, transfer rates, errors, etc.
Test environment: (Set 1)
Specs of Building: This is going through about 32 ft through 2 walls, a solid all-wood dresser, and a chimney. The room has plaster walls in some places.
Specs of server :(my machine in the same room as theXR-520): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: (remote machine in other room): AGNXAndrakon/AMD Phenom 9650/4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Amped Wireless ACA1 USB WLAN connection:USB3 via a PCI-Express addon card.
5Ghz 802.11ac mode: Channel 161 -72dBm
ISSUES WITH LARGE TRAFFIC VOLUME. AMPED’S PROBLEM

2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -64dBm
ISSUES WITH LARGE TRAFFIC VOLUME. AMPED’S PROBLEM
Unable to complete due to client adapter difficulties.
Test environment: (Set 2) Same room as XR520
Specs of Building Test Run 1: 16Ft away thru a wood door hallway right outside the office where the XR-520 is located.
Specs of server (my machine in the same room as theXR-520): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: HP2000-412NR/AMD E300/8GB DDR3 RAM/300 GB HDD/AMD RADEON 6310/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/RalinkRT5390 WLAN
2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -46dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 4Mbytes/sec or 32Mbits/sec


Test environment: (Set 2a)
Specs of Building Test Run 1: Same room as XR520
Specs of server (my machine in the same room as theXR-520): Intel i5 3570K/16GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 RAM/Nvidia Geforce 650Ti/Samsung 840 120GB SSD/Windows Server 2012 Standard/Realtek GBE NIC
Specs of client: HP2000-412NR/AMD E300/8GB DDR3 RAM/300 GB HDD/AMD RADEON 6310/Windows 7 x64 Home Premium/Amped UA230
5 GHz 802.11an mode: Channel 161+ -45dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 3Mbytes/sec or 24Mbits/sec


2.4 GHz 802.11n mode: Channel 11 -53dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 3Mbytes/sec or 24Mbits/sec

I also have an Edimax AC600 adapter that uses the same chipset Realtek RTL8811AU

That is how the UA320 shows up on a different system where windows plug-n-played it without the amped wireless driver. 

I got much better performance with it!

5 GHz 802.11an mode: Channel 161+ -45dBm
LAN speed test: 25 stream 6GB file: 9Mbytes/sec or 72Mbits/sec


Conclusion:
Pros:
Ø Excellent management software with lots of options
Ø Lots of RF tools to configure the WLAN radios to your needs
Ø Powerful coverage and throughput with customizable roaming
Ø Very robust security controls and options
Cons:
Ø Pricey
Ø No external antennas
Ø VLAN Issues with XMS config pushes
Rating:  7/10
Recommended: Yes