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Setup

Meraki goes out of its way to make the purchase and setup experience as simple as possible. If you're making the purchase on your own vs. working with a Meraki reseller, you just go to their online store, where you'll be first directed to choose a Cloud Controller (as per Figure 2), then select your access points from the options shown in Figure 1.

If you choose the less expensive "Pro" cloud controller, you'll still be shown the more expensive 802.11n MR series APs, with a note that they require an upgrade to the "Enterprise" Cloud Controller. But if you start out with the "Enterprise" Cloud Controller, you'll be shown only the 11N APs, along with an "additional Access Points available" note and an 800 number to call for details.

Meraki says that most buyers now opt for the 11N APs, with the dual-radio MR14 the most popular choice. They also told me that most installations choose to use Ethernet to connect up their multiple APs, instead of using the mesh capability that Meraki initially built its business on.

After you receive your APs, you set them up by first creating an account at http://dashboard.meraki.com. This URL auto-forwards you to a secure site, where you enter the info shown in Figure 6.

Meraki Account Creation

Figure 6: Account creation
You can test drive a simulated network to get a feel for the feature set and Meraki Cloud Controller interface. Just go here, create an account and have at it.

Once your account is set up, you can log in and make your way to the Configure > Add access points section of the Cloud Controller (Figure 7). Entering your order number (included on the order confirmation email) is the easiest way. The order in Figure 4 had two APs, which are shown after I pasted the order number in the left side box.

Add APs

Figure 7: Add APs

By default, Meraki places your APs on a Google map based on the street address on your order. You can also upload floorplans or other images that can be used to show AP locations. Figure 8 shows a simple map I uploaded that represents the lower level of my home.

Uploaded  floorplan for map

Figure 8: Uploaded floorplan for map

Once your APs are recognized, you'll probably want to vist the other Configure section pages to tweak your setup a bit. But, in keeping with Meraki's design philosophy, the controls are pretty simple and don't let (or require) you to futz with individual AP settings.

The Network-side settings page is a good example of this. You'll need to look at the larger version of the page to see all the settings, which include disabling the lights on APs, how to handle clients directly-connected to AP Ethernet ports, when to scan for Rogue APs, setting a maintenance window for Meraki to make any necessary updates to your APs and enabling public access to nework status information.

Network-wide settings
Click to enlarge image

Figure 9: Network-wide settings

There is also a Radio Frequency Settings section which provides only controls for setting Country, 2.4 GHz channel, Dual-band selection and Channel spreading. If you leave the 2.4 GHz channel and Channel spreading controls to their "auto" defaults, then Meraki's algorithms can have free reign on optimally assigning your APs' channels

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