Meru .11n wireless experience?

8293 pts.
Tags:
Meru
Wi-Fi
Wireless networking
I've heard varying reports on how well Meru wireless APs work, and was curious if anyone has some hands on experience they'd be willing to share. Does the mesh technology cause any problems? Does it make life simpler from a management perspective? Thanks for any thoughts you could share!

Software/Hardware used:
Meru Wireless Access Point

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We have had some great experiences installing Meru in Australia into large schools, hotels and public buildings. It has several major benefits compared to traditional “Legacy” WLAN suppliers like Cisco, Aruba, Symbol, HP etc who all use the same micro-cell approach.

By contrast to those suppliers, Meru’s single channel approach eliminates the issues of co-channel interference, so APs can run at full power (typically means up to 30% fewer APs than a micro-cell approach). Doing upfront site deployments is a breeze – just need to measure radio coverage and no need to worry about channel planning. We did a 70 AP school deployment in half a day. Filling coverage holes or adding APs just means literally dropping them in – again no worries about channel planning.

The other thing we find great about Meru is they support much higher numbers of wireless clients compared to egacy vendors, which is especially important in high density sites like schools, universities and hospitals. In one school Library, we replaced 7 Cisco APs with just 2 Meru APs due to superior client density and ability to run at full power. In their new Science building, we used 5 APs when competitors were quoting 15-20 (for coverage and large numbers of students).

Meru also outpeforms the others in delivery of wireless voice quality and the single channel means there is no handovers between APs for calls made on the move. Finally, Meru’s approach to airtime fairness means all wireless users (eg b, g and n) all get a fair slice of airtime and the slower users do not drag down overall speed of the wireless network.

So for sites requiring large numbers of users, large coverage areas, high throughput (voice, video and data) and simple management, Meru is a great solution.

We have not had a lot of experience yet with Meru mesh, but it can be used to extend an existing wireless environment to fill coverage holes, where the cost of wired connection to an AP is extremely high or for increased density and coverage in specific areas. It is typically used in outside campus areas, portable classrooms, sports fields etc…

Basically the AP’s function as follows in a Meru Mesh environment
1. An AP defined as a Gateway AP is connected to the physical network and is the root of the mesh cloud
2. An AP defined as a Wireless AP is connected to the Meru controller wirelessly

An advantage of Meru is that each AP can serve clients and be part of the Meru enterprise Mesh. All security policies are assigned to all clients including those connected via the Enterprise Mesh. The Meru mesh supports a maximum of three hops.

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  • Brian23
    This answer was obviously written by someone at Meru Networks and not by someone who has real world experience with their product. They might as well have just copied and pasted a Meru press release. In response to the claims of 30% less AP's than a "legacy" deployment I would definitely say false. In moving from a Cisco environment to a Meru implementation we have seen about a 50% INCREASE in the number of AP's needed to provide 100% coverage in the same areas. I will agree that the lack of the need to do channel planning makes implementation easier, but filling in coverage holes is far from just "dropping them in". I have not seen any client issues with airtime sharing, but the density claims are misleading. Since Meru's WLAN controller takes charge of client associations, the controller will load balance associations in an area. This means a client may be directly underneath an AP but associated to an AP 50 feet away with a low signal strength. Also, the APs may not have density issues themselves, I have seen serious limitations when it comes to overall WLAN controller association density. Overall in my experience with Meru I can conclude that the planning and implementation of the product is simple and straightforward. The day to day operation and troubleshooting and less than desirable and Meru's support network is by far the worst I have experienced in my IT career.
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  • Michael Morisy
    Hi Brian23, thanks a lot for your candid response. The above was from a VAR, I believe, which does likely have a not entirely unbiased perspective. I really appreciate your chiming in, and would love to talk to you a bit more for a few minutes if you have some time. Feel free to e-mail me directly at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com. I'd love to hear how your thoughts compare to some other perspectives I've heard. Either way, thanks again for sharing your experience.
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