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Community Challenge: Show off your WiFi chops for a chance to win!

Community Manager

MerakiCommunity-CommunityChallenge

 

It's time for another Community Challenge! It has been a while since we ran one of these (the last one was our Video Challenge in June), and that makes us all the more excited to launch a new one.

 

This time around, we're trying a scenario-based challenge. We hope you enjoy it.

 

The Challenge

You are an IT professional in charge of deploying Meraki wireless in a conference venue. The venue was designed for flexible layouts, with movable partitions between rooms, in order to accommodate a variety of group sizes and meeting purposes.

conference-floorplan.pngConference venue with flexible layout

 The venue's WiFi requirements are:

  • Fixed number of AP’s per room; no additional hardware will be added to support capacity
  • Capacity should scale from a dozen participants to up to 600 (total across all salons)
  • Performance of business-critical applications should be maintained regardless of client count
  • Metrics should be made available for both conference center management and the specific groups running the conferences; they want to know about WiFi performance, event attendance, and engagement.

Venue dimensions:

  • 90’ x 68’ (27.43m x 20.72m) overall
  • Salons A & B are each 56’ x 34’ (17.06m x 10.36m)
  • Salons C & D are each 34’ x 34’ (10.36m x 10.36m)
  • Ceilings are 14’ (4.26m) tall

 

(By popular request, dimension info was added a few hours after we launched this challenge)

(Thanks to @BlakeRichardson for providing the metric dimensions :-))

 

Question:

Given the above scenario, what native MR features would you use and how would you configure them to best support this deployment? You can include hardware-related capabilities and RF features as well as basic network design.

 

We encourage you to include diagrams, screenshots, and perhaps even a bit of storytelling and humor to help your entry stand out!

 

How to enter

Submit your contest entry in a comment on this blog post before 11 a.m. PDT on Monday (September 24, 2018). This time around, entries won’t be made public until voting starts. After you submit your entry, you’ll see a message reading “Your post will appear as soon as it is approved.”

 

UPDATE 9/28: Voting is closed. Congratulations to the winners!

UPDATE 9/24: Entries are closed; vote with your kudos on your favorite entries!

 

How to win

Voting begins when submissions close (at 11 a.m. PDT on  Monday, September 24, 2018), and continues through the work week. Voting closes at 11 a.m. PDT on Friday, September 28, 2018. (UPDATE 9/28: Voting is closed. Congratulations to the winners!)

 

We will be selecting 2 winners:

  1. The Community Favorite — chosen by you, our Community members. Cast your vote by giving kudos (image) to your favorite entries. The entry with the most kudos from community members who aren't Meraki employees will win!
  2. The Meraki Favorite — the entry with the most kudos from Meraki employees will win the Meraki Favorite prize. Feel free to solicit your contacts at Meraki to vote for you. 😉

Good Luck! ☘️

 

 

 

The Fine Print

  • Limit one entry per community member.
  • Submission period: Monday, September 17, 2018 at 11am PDT through Monday, September 24, 2018 at 10:59am PDT
  • Voting period: Monday, September 24, 2018 at 11am PDT through Friday, September 28 at 11am PDT
  • Prize will be a selection of Meraki swag with value not exceeding USD50.00
  • Official terms, conditions, and eligibility information
25 Comments
Kind of a big deal
  • Based on the density potentially needed and this sizing article I'd go with 18-20 (MR52 or MR53 APs), Auto RF, and Auto Power Reduction.  Depending on the amount of bandwidth needed they may want to set per client bandwidth restrictions as well with bursting.  If needed, add a Meraki Gnome to the environment to minimize any wireless signal bouncing.  
  • To address the performance of business-critical applications I'd enable Traffic Shaping prioritization. Security Appliance>Traffic Shaping. In the definition section select things like VPN, Email, and Productivity and set them to High priority. 
  • To prevent vendors and attendees from setting up their own hotspots that may interfere with the venue’s networks I'd enable Air Marshal. Wireless>Air Marshal and select 'Block clients from connecting to rogue SSIDs by default'
  • Access to the wireless metrics can be provided through the Wireless Health console.  

conference-floorplan copy.png

Comes here often

my proposition:

use  Meraki MR12-HW

with exploitation bande 2.4GHz

fonctionnement Mode: 8802.11n (HT20)

encrypt: AES and authentication WPA2-Enterprise 802.1x

Getting noticed

So ya gots to set up your AP's man! Like hang em from the celing with hangy things. hangy things.jpg

Cover that celing in a nice grid of those poe MR's. Then I think it's time to make some SSID's and traffic shaping rules.  At least 4 SSID's with strong passwords mind you!, one for each room. L3 Roaming enabled. The SSID's can be on different vlan's and restricted access to each not seeing the others can be played with.

And uh, all that is through the GUI of course; I'm not a 

L33t Hax0r!

Bam! You're done, mostly. If they bug you, just log on at home and fix it. Smiley Happy

emeril-bam.gif

 

Kind of a big deal

First the maths.

 

I'm basing my solution around an overcommit ratio of 25:1 for the access layer.  With 600 users that means we need around 24 access points (=600 users/25).

 

The total floor areas is 568.3496 m^2.  Now lets work out the floor area of each section, and how many people could potentially be in each area:

Salon A = 176.7416 m^2 = 31% = 187 people 

Salon B = 176.7416 m^2 = 31% = 187 people 

Salon C = 107.3296 m^2 = 19% = 113 people 

Salon D = 107.3296 m^2 = 19% = 113 people 

 

Now lets work out roughly how many APs should be in each area.  Note that with regular shaped spaces an even number of APs usually leads to easier placement.

Salon A: 187 people/25 = 7 to 8 APs = 8 APs (2 rows of 4) 

Salon B: 187 people/25 = 7 to 8 APs = 8 APs (2 rows of 4) 

Salon C: 113 people/25 = 4 to 5 APs = 4 APs (2 rows of 2) 

Salon D: 113 people/25 = 4 to 5 APs = 4 APs (2 rows of 2) 

So this would work out as 4 rows of 6 APs - which is conveniently a total of 24.  This maintains our design goal of a 25:1 over-subscription ratio.

 

Now lets work out the spacing of the APs:

Spacing between vertical columns: 27.43m / (4+2+1) = 3.91m 

Spacing between horizontal rows: 20.71m / (2+2+1) = 4.14m 

 

Visually this looks like:

Venue.png

Now onto equipment selection.

 

I have selected the MR53E coupled with the Downtilt Panel Omni Antenna.  The MR53E is ideally suited to dense environments with its 4x4 MIMO antenna array.  Its support for external antennas makes coupling it with the Downtilt Panel Omni Antenna an easy choice.  The Downtilt Panel Omni Antenna creates a focused beam (like a spot light) for users below, and directs all of its energy downwards.  These two would be roof mounted.

 

I would put in a stack of 3 x MS350-24X switches and add in the redundant power supply option to each switch.  The MR53E can be fed with an MGig port, and this stack would give a total of 24 MGig ports - the exact number of APs we are using.

 

The MR has very basic content filtering, and while this can be improved using the Cisco Umbrella Integration - nothing beats the control that an MX can supply.  So I would use a pair of MX250s for connecting this solution to the Internet.

 

 

Next I would create an RF Profile based on a conference room to make choosing the right settings much easier.

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 22-22-51.png

I would enable band steering - because any device operating in the 2.4Ghz spectrum is going to perform terribly.  We want everyone on the 5Ghz spectrum.  Note that (depending on your country) there are about 19 non-overlapping 20Mhz channels.  We have 24 access points.  The "Conference Room Profile" locks the radios to only using 20Mhz channels.  Because we are using focused antennas we are likely to be able to re-use a small number of channels across the venue with minimal interference.

The profile also sets the minimum bit rate to 12Mb/s to disable low speed devices that consume a lot of air time, and to encourage clients to roam to a close AP.

This is the magic of using RF Profiles - you don't even have to have a good understanding of the settings because appropriate settings have already been chosen for you.

 

Now we need to consider the SSID settings and delivering a quality experience to the end users.  To do this we'll use MR traffic shaping and QoS options.

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 22-32-12.png

Using an overcommit ratio of 25:1 and with a 500Mb/s Internet circuit we will limit each user to getting 20Mb/s of bandwidth (=500Mb/s / 600 users * 25).  We will also enable the default QoS rules to prioritise traffic appropriately.

 

 

Most likely the SSID for events would be configured to use a splash page.  The splash page system makes it easy for venue management to customise per event by uploading event logos and messages.

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 22-41-48.png

Splash pages can be as simple as providing a click through message, to self registration to pre-paid billing options.  This provides venue management with considerable flexibility in how they want to provide and charge for the service.

 

Another interesting option that could be offered is Cisco Meraki Systems manager in BYOD mode.  If this would deployed for an event it would allow those running the event to deploy files to all users (via the Systems Manager Backpack) and deploy any apps that might be supplied by those booking the venue. 

 

 

Either after or during an event considerable information can be supplied to those hiring the venue and for venue management themselves.

 

A location heat map can be provided showing how people moved through the event with time, or simply where people dwelled the most.

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 22-45-14.png

 

Location Analytics can be provided that show a wealth of information such as the number of visitors to the venue, how long they stayed at the venue, etc.

 

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 22-48-38.png

 

The Organisation Summary Report for WiFi also provides a wealth of information including may "Top" table reports.

 

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 22-50-46.png

 

When it comes to operating the network there are two standout features.  The first is Wireless Health with gives a quick oversight that everything is working ok, and if it is not, what is going wrong.

 

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 23-01-27.png

The other is Air Marshal which monitors and protects the security of the WiFi network.

Screenshot from 2018-09-20 23-02-08.png

Comes here often
  • Use Traffic Shaping to limit per-client bandwidth and to set priority fro business applications that will be used at the conference.
  •  Use Air Marshal to disable Rogue APs.
  • Ensure Location Analytics is enabled to capture wireless analytics and user engagement.
Conversationalist

A little Christina Aguilara Remix for you...

 

What a client wants, what a client needs,
Whatever makes them happy and is close to free.
What a client wants, what a client needs,
Whatever keeps them wanting more.
And they may thank you for being there for them.

 

Like a rock you waited so patiently, while I got it together.
While I figured it out, I only looked but I never touched,
'Cause all I got was a picture of your environment,
We went hand-in-hand, making plans,
And it's lucky for me, you understand.

 

MerakiContest.png

Conversationalist

[ Hardware ]

- According to this documentation, each MR AP can hold up to 128 client theoretically. So, I assume that real-world value is 80% of theoretical one, therefore each MR will hold up to 100 clients. Then, we need at least 6 MR APs.

- I'll take MR53 because of 4x4x4 MIMO and Multigigabit uplink.

 

[ Placement ]

- I'll put 6 AP's evenly on the ceiling. Height of ballroom is 14' (approx. 4.3 meters). It's just about 2 stories, not too crazy high to mount APs.

- Plus, if APs are mounted on ceiling, no need to rearrange APs when there are layout changes.

 

[ Features ] 

* Monitoring *

- Clients : Most basic, but most powerful feature of Meraki dashboard. Since there are only MR's in network, every clients are wireless clients. Using Clients dashboard, you can check how many client are connected to network now, how many clients were connected last few days, and even which AP is most popular(have most associated clients) one. In addition, you can check which and how much traffic is used by applications.

- Map & floor plans/Location Heatmap : I think this is one of the most nice feature of Meraki wireless. Add ballroom's floor plan to dashboard, and arrange APs on them. And set markers to 'Current clients', because it'll give you insight about current attendance status. Plus, you can use 'Clients for past day' and 'Usage for past day' to check last day's attendance status.

- Wireless Health : This page can give you about overall status of wireless network - how many clients are using now, how many users are suffering wireless problems, etc.

- Bluetooth beacon : Enabling Bluetooth scanning and beacon, you can track clients via BLE, and it'll give you how many attendees in ballroom. You can use it to push conference information to them, too!

 

* Performance *

- Radio settings : Create new RF profiles based on "Auditorium Profile" because even it's separated into four rooms, it's basically one large auditorium. It'll limit coverage area per AP to avoid signal collisions, and that's good for wireless performance.

- Traffic shaping : Limit Per-client bandwidth. As far as it's not related to traffic-intense job, 2~5Mbps per client is usable for Web browsing and messaging. It can prevent bandwidth shortage when number of user is increasing. Plus, if some client need more network power, just add it to whitelist to exclude it from shaping policy.

Comes here often

Dear Team,

 

Greetings to all Meraki people !!

 

As we have an interesting scenario here to work with, let me just share my idea and design as follows.

 

Capture_0014.JPG
As we can see there are 2 types of salon structure here as the salon A,B shares the same structure and salon C,D shares the same.

 

  • 90’ x 68’ overall
  • Salons A & B are each 56’ x 34’
  • Salons C & D  are each 34’ x 34’
  • Ceilings are 14’ tall

Therefore, I suggest the usage of MR52 (4x4 MIMO, wave 2, 2.5Gbps max frame rate) or MR53 (4x4 MIMO, wave 2, 2.5Gbps max frame rate) series access points for the high density usage as total 600+ devices are in the area.

For a scenario like this usually we need to do a predictive wireless heatmap to understand the wireless premises, coverage, weak points etc.

However, out of experience i suggest to place 4 MR devices in salon A&B, and 3 MR devices in salon C&D.

Also suggest to enable the features below,

 

1. MDM (as its a salon people will walk in with BYOD).

2. Layer 7 application control and traffic shaping (you can control the types of apps in your network, and do traffic shaping also).

3. Embedded location analytics reporting and device tracking .

4. Global L7 traffic analytics reporting per network, per device, & per application (you can generate complete monitoring reports for your network).

5. MR with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Beacon support can also track and monitor the Bluetooth deices and Bluetooth network in your area.

 

 

This is however a predicted network design and for exact results I prefer to go with a wireless survey.

Thanks a lot folks, hope it was somehow useful !!

 

love Meraki !! Smiley Happy

 

Regards,

Varun Cheloor.

Network Consultant.

CCNA, CCNP, CCNA Wireless, CMNA.

 

PFS
Comes here often

Hi there, 

 

i would allocate to rooms A & B MR52, one in each room.

This considering that only half of the people will be using full capacity of what the equiment coud give us.

 

In rooms C&D two MR42, one in each room also.

 

In the middle of the whole saloom i would alocate another MR52 only for performance issues that could be felt in case of all the people were using more than one device at the same time.

 

Thanks,

Comes here often

1 AP per room

 

Guest traffic Shape 5 Mbs with Burst

 

Band steering to 5Gzh

 

Disable 11B

 

 

 

Conversationalist

Hello,

 

MR53

Hardware features

  • 4 radios: 2.4 and 5 GHz, dual-band
  • WIDS/WIPS, and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • 4-stream 802.11ac Wave 2, up to 2.5 Gbps
  • 1 × Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 1 × 2.5 Gbps Multigigabit Ethernet Port
  • PoE: 802.3at
  • AC adapter available

 

Salon  A 

Total of AP's 12

Salon  B

Total of AP's 12

Salon C

Total of AP's 8

Salon D

Total of AP's 8

 

Here to help
For this deployment the key things I focused on were:
  • High density environment
  • Room sizes that can change
  • 600 max participant limit
  • Availability of metrics to conference staff as well as clients
 
I designed the venue using an even layout of 16 Meraki MR52 APs being fed from a Meraki MS120-24 switch being fed from a Meraki MX250 security device. These devices were chosen because of their compatibility with each other and because they serve the perceived capacity requirements of the venue.
 
Most Meraki APs can serve a theoretical max of 128 clients (per Meraki documentation here: https://documentation.meraki.com/MR/WiFi_Basics_and_Best_Practices/Approximating_Maximum_Clients_per...) but, for design purposes I prefer to keep the equipment specified for double the peak utilization to preserve performance and provide excess capacity in case of failures. Working from the number of 600 participants and having done wireless administration for some time, you realize that most participants typically bring two devices with them (laptop, mobile). Some bring 3-4 (tablets, watches, etc)! So a more realistic capacity number would be 1200 devices. Since I wanted to keep the design a little simpler (too many more APs and we’d have to add an extra switch for power requirements). I went with 16 of the MR52 APs (and I chose MR52 because those are designed with high density in mind) and they can all be powered off one MS120-24 switch from Meraki. I should make a small mention about doubling the security gateway and switch for redundancy purposes but, felt that might be beyond the scope of this scenario.
 
The MX250 security device was chosen as the gateway/router/etc because it has a capability to handle up to 2000 clients and 4Gbps of bandwidth. This fits our capacity requirements without going overboard or under designing (MX100 only recommends 500 clients and the MX450 is overkill with 10,000 clients).
 
The MX250 also allows the use of traffic shaping which would be a critical component to cover the requirement of keeping up the performance of business-critical applications. I would create 2 separate WiFi SSIDs for the venue, one for onsite venue staff/management and one guest network for attendees and vendors. For the guest network, I would setup a click-through splash page just so the venue can have a way for users to agree to a TOS. On the guest network, I would setup traffic shaping so that there was a per-client limitation of 5Mbps and a Per-SSID limitation of 475Mbps. This would reserve at least 25Mbps for the venue staff/management SSID. Depending on the needs of the business critical applications, adjustments to those numbers could be made.
 
As for the configuration of the APs themselves, I would likely create an RF profile for the site and then set Band Selection to Per AP and I would turn off band steering.I know vendors promote band steering but my experience shows that most of the time it fails to meet expectations and sometimes actually inhibits devices from connecting. I would set minimum bitrate per SSID and set a fairly high minimum bitrate (18Mbps) to encourage devices to switch to their nearest APs quickly. I would also set client balancing to ON since this will be a high density environment and there is the possibility to overwhelm a particular AP with client connections without this feature enabled. Channel width would depend on the location for me but, I would likely set the channel widths to 20MHz for the 5GHz band so that RF could be reduced with a higher selection of available channels (DFS decisions would be made dependent on location proximity to an airport). I would also set radio power to automatic. As the rooms can change sizes and devices could be anywhere within the venue, radio signal strength needs to be automatically adjustable by the system to compensate for the room changes and device locations. There should also be discussions held with the venue management about disabling the 2.4GHz band if there are no devices that need it in an effort to reduce RF interference for the bluetooth devices that attendees are likely to have with them.
 
For the metrics in this scenario, I would say a combination of a the Location Analytics report and the Organization Wireless Summary Report would give all the performance and details of attendance and engagement that would be desired. These could be piped out to a web page through the Meraki API or the summary report could also be emailed on an event by event basis to whoever would need it. 
 
MerakiChallenge.png
Getting noticed

The following layout should work for the conference room:

 

Meraki.jpg

 

By using the MR-52's' throughout the space we will have excellent coverage due to the 4x4:4 radios. Separate SSIDs could be created for each space in order to segregate traffic, and allow for the Location Analytics to be used in each space, based on the proximity to each of the APs. 

 

Thanks to the built-in intelligence of the Merakis, no manual RF configuration would be needed, as the APs will auto-select the most appropriate channels to produce the least amount of interference between spaces. 

 

The rest of the Meraki dashboard will allow the center management and group organizers to view the performance of each network, using the Wireless Health section. The location analytics provides great insight into overall attendance, plus the ability to see numbers in each partitioned area (as long as the APs have been pre-tagged).

 

Who doesn't love seeing everything every user is viewing while we're at it? Using the clients page we can get a general sense of what people are doing. Are they all bored to death and watching Netflix? Or maybe you're showcasing a new app, and everyone has downloaded something from the app store?! (Hurray!)

Kind of a big deal

Interesting mix of ideas here, some look a lot more expensive than others to deploy. Looks like some people have put a lot of time into their entry as well. Good luck everyone!

 

I would have entered but we are right in the middle of getting budgets sorted for 2019 so I don't have much spare time at the moment. 

Community Manager

Voting is now closed! Stay tuned for the announcement of the winners (in a couple of hours, though if you are really eager you could figure it out yourself 🙂)