Demo Lab: Configure a Meraki Network
I’ve wanted to get some more Meraki kit into the office to experiment with for ages and finally got round to sourcing some and setup a test lab. If you’ve never used Meraki equipment before you should! opening up a box is like the first time you purchased an iPhone or a brand new car it feels a bit special! No I’m not weird I’m a nerdy IT guy 😉
This is high end networking equipment for enterprise and utilises a powerful cloud management platform. Setup is unbelievably easy, a firewall, switch or access point can be preconfigured in the cloud and as soon as equipment hits the internet it downloads its configuration and jumps into life. This is an Incredibly powerful feature making it super easy for global businesses to manage multiple locations with even the smallest IT team.
In my test lab I have a modest selection of devices to walk you through a basic setup, you wont believe how quick and easy it is.
- MX80 Firewall
- MS24 POE Switch
- MR18 Wireless Access Point
- MR34 Wireless Access Point
What makes Meraki so great is that everything is managed from their online cloud portal.
Create a new network
Here I’ve logged into my account and created a new network specifying a combined hardware network type (Basically means the network can include switches, firewalls and wireless AP’s together) and selecting the available hardware from the inventory. new devices can be added by specifying the serial number of the Meraki device or simply by adding your Meraki order number which is great when ordering more than ten devices at once.
Now we have a new network and you will notice there are menus down the left hand side
- Network Wide
- Security Appliance
We can now start to setup each device by going into the specific menu so lets start by going into the Security Appliance menu to configure the firewall and LAN configuration.
In our lab lets use a typical NAT configuration and track clients by MAC address.
Specify a subnet of 192.168.0.0 / 24 and set the firewalls LAN IP to 192.168.0.1.
Next setup DHCP.
I will leave the firewall rules as defaults for now but that’s it for the firewall. NAT configuration with DHCP on LAN and no port forwarding. Obviously you can configure a whole host of security filters but for now lets get the basics setup.
Now we need to configure the switch by going into the Switch menu. No VLAN’s needed in our lab but you can configure VLANS and QOS and turn POE on or off as required.
Ok that’s the switch done lets go into the Wireless menu and configure an SSID.
Here we simply enable and rename SSID 1 to ‘Southern IT Networks’
Click on Edit to configure the encryption, lets go for WPA2 and set the key. If we need to we can configure a splash screen which is great when configuring a network for a hotel or café because you can add some branding and add special offers for users of guest wireless.
Did you know if a UK business offers guest wifi they are breaking the law unless they comply with numerous regulations? Meraki offers a great feature called SMS authentication where users have to receive an authentication code to their mobile before being able to log in.
That’s it with the basics, we’ve now configured the firewall, switch and Access point. All we do now is connect the hardware to the network, wait a few minutes for the firmware to auto update and bingo! our network auto configures and we don’t have to mess about logging into each device individually, everything’s been done from the portal.
Now the hardware is online we can view the status of each unit by viewing the overview pages. Here we can see what ports are in use on the firewall and how much traffic is passing through it.
We can do the same with the switch.
The most interesting part to look at is the wireless. From here we can see all connected clients, what AP they are connected to and even see their general location on a floor plan using the magic of triangulation!
There you have it, a very quick look at how to configure a Cisco Meraki network.
We configured a firewall, switch and wireless access point before we even connected any hardware. Once the hardware was connected it downloaded the configuration and set themselves up automatically.
Enjoy great features such as automatic firmware updates, Wireless client location, and Wireless slash pages and SMS authentication. Over the coming months I’ll deep dive into some of these features so subscribe to the blog!