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  • Cisco Meraki for SMB in Australia

    Buy Cisco Meraki in Australia

    If you want to buy now, we  list the product range here for those looking for general advice we have listed the basics considerations for buying Meraki equipment below.

    You can also have a free consultation with an Australian Meraki expert from CiscoMeraki.com.au , who can give you a real-world explanation Meraki Pricing, Support and Buying considerations.

    Key Features and Benefits

    If you're looking to buy a Cisco Meraki Wireless Access point, Security Device or Switch for a Small or Medium business deployment - here are some of the biggest features to consider.  We are really focusing on the Wide Area Network with this article, as the other features such as Mobile Device management are not quite as novel.

    Cloud Management

    Basically, this means you only need the device to be plugged into an Internet connection at the site - after which a technician can setup, configure, monitor and manage VPN connections, security and Local connections via the internet from any location. The advantages to this are obvious - no more sending technicians to remote sites. It's a feature that makes Cisco Meraki ideal for outdoor and remote locations, or anyone with multiple sites where sending a skilled technician to each deployment or issue can be extremely slow and expensive.

    For a better idea of the features you really should trial the Cloud Management system.

    ScreenShot741

     

    Auto-VPN & MPLS Bridging

    As the name implies, configuring a site to site VPN or Wide Area Network with Meraki Security Appliances is pretty much automated through a really clean Graphical User Inteface. It doesn't require any specific Cisco expertise - other than familiarity with the basics of Wide Area Networking.  If you're looking at cross-grading your existing MPLS network with Meraki, it's also pretty straightforward.  You can simply place a Meraki inside your MPLS use it as a bridge between the rest of the Auto-VPN network (which you can expand with minimal effort) and your old, rigid MPLS network.  All sites can speak to one another via the Meraki bridge.

    Cisco Meraki’s unique auto provisioning site-to-site VPN connects branches securely, without tedious manual VPN configuration. Leveraging the power of the cloud, MX Security Appliances configure, monitor, and maintain your VPN so you don't have to.
    auto-vpn

    WAN Optimization Cache

    The whole focus of the Meraki range is expansion, mobility and flexibility.  So having the ability to add a new site (at the drop of a hat) in a remote or obscure location can lose some it's appeal when the internet speed is lacking.  By incorporating a 1 TB SATA cache into their MX80 and above security appliances, the impact of internet speed issues are somewhat reduced by allowing frequently transmitted data to be cached in the network devices at either end, and distributed on the LAN pretty smartly.

    wan-optimization

    USB / 4G Automatic Failover

    This is a really outstanding feature for all of the Meraki Security Appliances.  For years we have had to rely on ADSL being the failover for Fibre / Ethernet.  Both rely on physical cables running to the location, so certain (not uncommon) issues would affect the infrastructure that supports both connections simultaneously.  The 4G failover is a breakthrough in this arena. Being airborne, it almost never fails - but especially not at the same time as a wired internet connection.

     


     

    Product Types

    Here's an unboxing / overview of a few of the products from the Cisco Meraki 2014 range available in Australia.

     

    Meraki Security Appliances / Firewalls (MX80)

    Pictured below is the MX80 Security Appliance we used for a recent client deployment.  We didn't need to send a technician onsite - we simply asked the local tech to plug the power cable and internet in.  After that our technician saw the device 'come alive' on our Cloud Management panel.  We made a few configuration changes and easily configured a bridge to the rest of the network.  Within a few hours we had 3 more locations added to their WAN.

    Most of the MX devices have 4 LAN ports on the front for adding other devices (WAP / Switches) but essentially function as a Cloud Managed firewall / security appliance with WAN Caching.

    2014-07-03 15.43.11 2014-07-03 15.44.12 2014-07-03 15.44.23 2014-07-03 15.44.55

     

     

    Meraki Switches (MS Series)

    We didn't include a switch for unboxing as it's note a major part of the focus. While cloud managed switches are great - the wired / ethernet LAN is already a very robust technology. Honestly there are not mind-blowing features here. If you already have Gigabit switch handy it's probably good enough. That being said - if you are looking at setting up an entirely new office then a full-meraki setup is definitely the way to go to allow a single source of management and total network visibility.

     

     

    Meraki Indoor Wireless LAN / WAP (MS Series and MX60HW)

    The MX60HW is a special case for the fact it's an all in one (if you consider 4 ports to be a switch) including Security Appliance and Auto-VPN.  So if you are going to get a WAP then we highly recommend forking out a bit more to get this fully functioning firewall too.

    2014-07-03 15.46.12 2014-07-03 15.47.11 2014-07-03 15.47.24 2014-07-03 15.47.50

    In all other cases, the MR series  from Meraki are great for the Cloud management features and level of visibility they give you on the increasingly important WLAN. You can actually get a MR16 Wireless Access Point for FREE with a 1 year license by attending a webinar.  It's a great option if you're looking to start out.

    To be eligible for a free access point, participants must be an IT professional. Existing Meraki customers are not eligible. Limit of one free AP per company. You can sign up for a webinar here:

    http://www.meraki.com/company/webinars?ref=1lnTpZB

     

     

    Mobile / All in One (Z1 Teleworker)

    The Meraki Z1 teleworker is a small appliance with the pretty awesome ability to instantly add any location, home, hotel etc. as part of your Wide Area Network / VPN. The security is handled by the appliance - and the same level of monitoring is available as any other cloud-managed device.  That means traffic monitoring and shaping, connection monitoring etc.

    It is a small / portable Wireless Access Point, Security Appliance and Switch in one.

    2014-07-03 15.49.41 2014-07-03 15.50.572014-07-03 15.49.16

    Hardware + License + Power + Options

    Cisco Meraki products are more than just Network Hardware.  They have some specific licensing, and can only be acquired through approved Cisco Meraki resellers.  There is a little bit of know-how required in ordering the units to make sure you don't end up missing a key component when you unbox.

    The general formula is : 1x Hardware + 1x License + 1x AU Power Plug + Options

    mx600licenseac-power-cord-for-mx-and-ms_1024x1024antennas-and-power

     

     

    Enterprise License & Support

    Aside from buying the actual hardware, you will need to purchase an enterprise license for each device (really essential in order to use them!) The licenses are available in a range of 'years'. The most common is 3 yr as it ties most closely to the usual spend cycle for technology. Licenses are considered separate to the hardware. So while you will need (for example) 1x MR Series license for 1x MR Device, it doesn't have to be the same device.  You can upgrade the device to a newer model (in the same series) and keep using the same license.

    Included in the license is 24/7 support which is always a great thing to have.  You can access support easily via the Systems Manager (Cloud Management page).

    ScreenShot743

     

     

    AU Power Plug

    Being an international product which is shipped from a single source (ultimately) you will need a local power supply.  This is a pretty straightforward - if you order from Ironline we will include this on your quote, otherwise if you buy the items online, just make sure you get the corresponding AU plugs.

    ac-power-cord-for-mx-and-ms_1024x1024

     

     

    POE Injectors

    Most commonly, Outdoor Wireless Access Points are usually hard to reach places, and so don't use a traditional power supply but POE (power over ethernet) - as such a power plug is not needed.

    However if you don't have a POE switch then you would need a POE injector (bascically an adapter from a power plug to an ethernet cable).  It's an expensive option compared to just getting a POE switch!

    802-poe-injector

     

    Antennae

    The Meraki MR62 and MR66 Outdoor WAPs require Antennae in order to work - which (unlike the indoor WAPs) are sold separately. The antennae come in two varieties - for technical specifications visit the product pages.

    The N-Type (Omni) Antenna is sold in a pack of 2x and is the cheaper option.

    omni-pair

    The MIMO (Sector) type comes in 2 versions :  (11 dBi Gain, 2.4 GHz) or (14 dBi Gain, 5 GHz)

    sector-antenna

     

    If you would like more information please drop us a line on 1300 476 654

     

     

  • Looking for zPanel?

    If you're looking for zPanel >> it's gone, and there's a lesson to be learned!

    After recently falling in love with the ease of this hosting platform - which seems to be designed with single-owner / multi-site web hosting in mind, it seems the project has been pulled.

    I'm devastated!  I literally only just started using this  awesome web hosting control panel.  This was one of the only (if not the only) hosting control panels that allowed me to manage multiple websites, as well as run on my local PC with windows.

    But not only that, its seems like (but I'm not yet sure) there is some interesting history around this development.  I'll explain later, but for now here is what happened earlier today.

    I had just finished migrating all of my sites and hosting accounts to zPanel VPS servers - and I was looking forward to writing some scripts to automate maintenance on the sites. In order to do so I was anticipating (with some excitement) the new found convenience of easily (really easily!) using an identical hosting control panel (Zpanel) on my Windows PC and my externally hosted VPSs'.  This way I could develop using all the tools of convenience coding in my native local environment - with all my preferred tools and accessories - and upload to a VPS hosting account.

    If you're not a full-time web developer / coder > you probably work with a windows or mac os rather than running your own local development environment on an ubuntu or centos machine to replicate your paid-hosting environment.

    Usually this meant running XAMPP - and having to deal with the same irritations as Cpanel (albeit with a completely different process just to complicate things even more).  An acceptable solution but not in the least ideal for anyone trying to juggle their web development skills with any other job on the same machine.

    Luckily I had just discovered that ZPANEL > the open-source control panel for VPS hosting (ideal for managing multiple sites) also comes as a super-simple installer for Windows.  A dream come true!

    So, off I went to the website to download zpanel, which in google's results still looks fine....

    zpanel zpanel - lights are on but nobody home

    But all I found was this.

    zpanel is offline

    I figured it must have been a temporary issue - as I looked a little further online to try and find some news about whether the site was having problems (and possibly an ETA)

    So I searched a little... and came up with something I (being new to zpanel) was not aware of.  It seems a few years back the developers, or someone on the team (owner, stakeholder) had a spat with someone who turned out to be a hacker... or perhaps was championed by a hacking group.

    zpanel hacked full article is linked from image

    Oh.  That's nasty!  Zpanel has been a target for hackers ever since antagonizing someone in the community back in 2013.

    To be honest though, I was unconcerned.  My little sites (no! ironlinetechnology.com.au isn't one of them) should not really be a target for hackers. There isn't anything of value - and beside that I would never antagonize any hackers because they are AWESOME and I LOVE THEM!  (please don't hack me).  I generally acknowledge that hackers can - if they choose to - get in just about anywhere.  The moral of the zpanel story is definitely NEVER to challenge a hacker!

    Anyway, that was 2013... what about now? June, 2015...

    Still unable to get onto any resources on the entire zpanelcp.com domain or subsites, I headed over to their facebook page and left a message.  I figured I might be helping them out if they weren't aware the page was down.

    The response was a bit of a shock.  I got a response that the developers had moved on to another project.

    zpanel facebook zpanel facebook gets a response

     ScreenShot682

    The plot thickens.  I must be really late to the story... cause I went and looked at the Sentora site and found a development history going back 7 months.

    sentora hosting sentora has been around a while!

    So... why is Zpanel's website offline 7 months after the developers moved on, if someone is still manning the facebook page?  Why is it offline at all > surely you would redirect the domain?  Is it that the developers have moved on from the owner (or whichever crazy bastard swore at, and then antagonized someone who clearly knows vulnerabilities).. or have they all moved on completely to greener / unhacked pastures.

    Whatever the case may be, it seems like the ZPANEL love affair is over for me the moment it started.  Oh well...

     I'm off to download Sentora for Windows !!

    What more could go wrong...

    sentora no windows version! ever! no windows version! ever!

    Havomg just found the uber-panel, the holy grail (okay maybe not) but a pretty damn great hosting platform I could easily install and manage on my local PC as well as from hosting providers / VPS ... no sooner have I adopted it but it disappears... replaced by a fork that doesn't do the one thing I really loved... NO WINDOWS INSTALLER.

    #%$%%!@#~

  • Adopting Adobe Creative Cloud? Some thoughts...

    Is your business adopting Adobe Creative Cloud?

    By moving to Adobe Creative cloud, whether you're an individual or a business you can gain alot of benefits :
    - Cash Flow
    When considering your business' expenses you should always factor in some cost of administration for outright purchases.  That huge chunk of money taken from your account all at once can be a massive burden on cash flow.  Most companies would finance this expense anyway, making it a monthly expense but adding interest to the cost
    Tips for managing Adobe Creative Cloud for Teams
    However it is not all roses with Adobe Creative Cloud .  Many companies find Creative Cloud difficult to manage, with users recieving redundant instructions from the Creative Cloud interface - which is fundamentally built on the notion that the users are self-managing.
    below are some of the key problems with Adobe Creative Cloud, and our top tips to work around them.
    - Cloud is just a Catchphrase
    The software does not run in the cloud.  It must be downloaded and installed on the local computer.  The cloud part comes as Adobe do offer a few GB of cloud storage for each user - but it has some big problems,
    1, most businesses already have a cloud data storage solution (dropbox, sugarsync etc) - one that can be used for any purpose.
    2. an issue shared by Microsoft and Google (business) cloud offerings... you cannot pool the team's cloud allowances together.  This is an absurd idea that businesses software vendors continually ignore.  As a business, the data belongs to the company - not the individual.
     A company with a high staff turnover will end up having an IT helpdesk specifically for 'farming' data from individual user accounts.
    When the user leaves the company and their email address is decommissioned - their data is left in the cloud.
    - Sharing Licenses
    Adobe's creative cloud licensing allows you to allocate the licenses to individuals based on their email address. But to reallocate the licenses each time requirments change is an time consuming task
    Many IT managers breathed a sigh of relief when Creative Cloud licensing came along.  But it still doesnt follow the basic idea that the license belongs to the company.  For whatever reason, Adobe have simply moved the license from 'computer-allocated' to 'user-allocated'... despite the previous point.
    Lets say you're an architecture firm using Adobe Creative Cloud.  You have 50 people who need intermittent access for a few hours each day.  John wants to use Adobe Photoshop in the morning, and then Jill wants to use it in the afternoon
    - someone will need to manually reassign the license from john@company.com to jill@company.com

    Installing Adobe Creative Cloud Software

    When you send an indidual an invite to join creative cloud (and assign them a license) the workflow will take them through the process, and then continue to introduce them to the features of the cloud and encourage them to download and install the software.... even if you have already deployed it.  It's incredibly annoying that deploying the software is easy, but Adobe still encourage the user to download (4GB) worth of files.

    Assigning Licenses :

    Something we have recommend to our clients is to setup a rolling license system.  Here's how it works :
    1. setup a shared mailbox.  if you are on Office 365 this doesnt require a license.
    2. add as many email addresses to the mailbox as licenses.
  • Google Cardboard - Finding & Buying Lenses, cutting Cardboard or Buying Premade Kits in Australia.


    Google Cardboard - an ironic hipster low-tech marketing gimmick.

    If you've been on Facebook, IFL Science or pretty much any tech news sites lately you would have seen a lot of hype about the Google Cardboard do-it-yourself VR headset announced at the Google I/O event. An evolutionary product - though not revolutionary ( an ongoing trend in 201X) - that takes an idea that was around since at least the 80's and applies modern technology to improve it. Then, applies ancient materials to make it "stunningly minimal" (gag!) 80sviewmasterI've been waiting since 1992, when 'The Lawnmower Man' came out to immerse myself in the humming digital warmth of Virtual Reality.  So, I was pretty excited - however it seems that not only does the Cardboard Kit requires quite a bit of fiddling - it also involves sourcing your own parts. Some of which are hard to acquire because the lenses sold out shortly after the announcement. (they have just come back in stock) We are going to give you the truth, to save you the headaches.  Like everything 'tech' - its no way near as simple as they want you to believe and the total cost of all the components is almost as much as buying the manufactured product. To skip my hyperventilating & rambling back story - go straight to the bottom of the post and see your REAL options to buy or make a smartphone Virtual Reality system. Otherwise sit tight and enjoy while we blow this marketing BS wide open.

     


     

    Did Google invent this?

    google_cardboard_2 Cardboard already existed. So did the product. Google Cardboard's components are  Cardboard, Rubber Bands, Magnets and ...a Durovis Opendive Lens Kit. Durovis is a brand from Shoogee - a German Company that makes a product called Durovis Dive.  There seems to be some contradictory info between Durovis and Google over how the idea started.  Google credits David Coz and Damien Henry at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris however below you will see durovit claiming their 'dive' is the first of its kind.  Considering it existed long before Google Cardboard - and the Durovis components are touted as the recommended lenses - I'm going to go with the notion that they are in cahoots (google gets the credit, Durovis gets the sales). "The Durovis Dive is the world's first hands-free smartphone holder that allows you to get immersed into virtual reality." MAY 2013.

    Before being made from cardboard, it seems this idea had been around for more than a year.

     


     

    How much does making Google Cardboard cost?

    NFC Tags (pack of 10) - $15 Rubber Bands (pack) - $6 Velcro - $3 Ring Magnets : $12 Ceramic Magnets : $7 Durovis OpenDive Lens Kit: $10 Google Cardboard Parts from Amazon total not including shipping :

    ~$50 AUD 

    + Not Available in Australia...

    Pretty much none of the essential parts were available for shipping to the Sydney CBD. 6 out of 8 products displayed this message in the cart.  Including the essential Durovis Lenses.  The only parts we could get from Amazon were the rubber bands and velcro.

     We're sorry. This item can't be shipped to your selected destination. You may either change the shipping address or delete the item from your order. 

     

    Here are the REAL options...

     


     

    google-cardboard-myoOPTION 1 > Make Google Cardboard by hand : $50 AUD+

    Good > You get the satisfaction of having made it yourself. Bad > You have to spend hours fiddling about with cardboard and glue. Bad > At the time of writing this article, the essential parts are not available in Australia.

    1. Order the parts (the lenses are not available in Australia.)
    2. Buy some cardboard and glue.
    3. Print the templates.
    4. Spend the day cutting, gluing.
    5. Wait for the parts to arrive.
    6. End up with this ...

    *You could also get the cardboard computer-cut from services like Ponoko > but that will cost an additional $20-$30 and requires some understanding of EPS and laser cutting.

     


     

    google_cardboardOPTION 2 > Buy a Google Cardboard Kit : $35 AUD

    Alot of websites will joyfully relay to you the marketing line that it's so awesome that this is made of carboard because that makes it 'stunningly minimal'. However ultimately you're buying something you could have bought 6 months ago just because it is now made from a worthless material.

    1. Buy the kit online.
    2. Wait 4-6 weeks for your kit to arrive.
    3. Put it together.
    4. Hope it never gets damp.

     

     


     

    dive-smallOPTION 3 > Buy a Durovis Dive : ~$90 AUD

    At the end of the day, we suspect this is what Google intends with the promotion of a product made of cardboard that requires components of another product in order to be anything more than a piece of cardboard origami.  They provide links to the Durovis site from the Google Cardboard instructions... knowing full-well that anyone embarking on this project might be very tempted to opt for a pre made beauty like this, rather than a piece of cardboard.

    1. Click here to buy Durovis Dive VR Smartphone Headset

    2. Recieve the item in 7-9 Business Days and begin using it.

     

     

     


     

    Note about NFC:

    Notably absent from any other posts I've read is some explanation of NFC- how they work etc.  Everyone wants to pretend that all you need is some cardboard, glue and a smartphone.  Sadly - most people are going to be enraged by the smug presumption that anyone knows what an NFC tag is, or where to get one. Near Field Communication (NFC) Tag > in the Google Cardboard this is used to tell your smartphone that it's in the goggles... which then activates the app.  So it is OPTIONAL. You can switch the app on before putting your phone into the goggles and save having to use NFC.

  • Google (Asus) Nexus

    More powerful and portable than ever.

    Buy Nexus 7 with mobile data and 32GB of storage and keep even more of your favorite stuff close at hand – even when you’re not close to WiFi. 

    Introducing Nexus 7 with mobile data.

    Nexus 7 is designed to go wherever you go – and now with up to 32GB of storage and the option to connect to mobile data networks – Nexus 7 can take you even further.

    Stunning 7” display

    With a stunning 7-inch display, all day battery life, even more storage, and mobile data to keep you connected, Nexus 7 is the perfect travel or commute companion. 

    Speed and performance

    Nexus 7 is built by ASUS and comes with a NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor so everything is faster – pages load quickly, gameplay is smooth and responsive, and running multiple apps is a breeze. Patented 4-PLUS-1™ design gives you processing power when you need it, and battery saving efficiency when you don’t. 

    Designed with gaming in mind

    Nexus 7 was designed with gaming in mind. With heart pounding quad-core performance, a vibrant 1280-by-800 high-resolution display, and sensors like a gyroscope and accelerometer – do a barrel roll, then tilt, touch and tap your way to the top of the leaderboards while exploring over 700,000 apps and games available on Google Play. 

    Less charging, more doing

    With over 9 hours of HD video playback, 10 hours of web browsing or e-reading, and up to 300 hours of standby time, Nexus 7 can go the distance. Whether you measure battery life in chapters read, levels completed, movies watched or minutes of backseat silence, you can spend less time charging and more time doing.

     

    Made for Google Play

    Nexus 7 was made for Google Play, putting all the entertainment you love right in your hand: the world's largest collection of eBooks, millions of songs, thousands of movies and TV shows, and the latest magazines – plus over 700,000 apps and games. 

    No wires, no hassle

    Forget about cables and syncing. Google Play stores all your digital content in the cloud so it’s instantly available and you can pick up right where you left off. 

    Millions of eBooks

    With over 4 million titles to choose from, Nexus 7 gives you access to the world’s largest collection of eBooks. As thin as a paperback book, Nexus 7 is portable enough to fit in back pockets and purses, and lets you customize your reading experience by adjusting the font, switching to day or night mode, and much more. 

    700,000 apps and games

    Get all the apps and games you love on Nexus 7 – with over 700,000 titles to choose from, Google Play has something for everyone. From games for the kids to the latest 3D epics, you’ll find the most popular free and paid apps and games on Google Play. 

    Explore Google Play

    Google Play puts all your favorite entertainment right in your hand. Explore millions of songs, thousands of HD movies and TV shows, and the latest magazines on Nexus 7.

    Best of Google

    Nexus 7 comes with all your favorite Google Apps – like Gmail, Chrome, Google+ and YouTube – putting the best of Google in the palm of your hand.

    Live in the Now

    Google Now brings you just the right information at just the right time. It shows you how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, or when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform.
    With the latest version, Google Now keeps you even more organized – get reminders about upcoming flights, restaurant reservations, and hotel confirmations – when and where you need them.

    Sign in. Stay synced

    Nexus 7 is fully connected to Google’s reliable cloud services – so your contacts, Gmail, calendar, photos, music, movies, and books are always backed up in the cloud, no wires needed. Just sign in with your free Google Account and you’ll never lose the things that matter most.

    Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

    Nexus 7 comes with Android 4.2, the latest version of the world's most popular mobile platform. Experience an improved keyboard that helps you say and do more, new actionable notifications, updates to Google Now and much more.

    A smarter keyboard, now with Gesture Typing

    Writing messages is easier than ever with Gesture Typing – glide your finger over the letters to compose emails or texts in a snap. The keyboard can anticipate and predict the next word, so you can power through your messages like never before.

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