WiFi is one of those services that people simply expect to see these days. When you walk into just about any public building you are going to start looking for the “free” WiFi that they have. Most people do not stop to think about that that looks like behind the scenes especially when you are in a smaller business. In a large business you have multiple wireless access points (WAPs) that are run by a central controller. This centralized control system makes it relatively simple to control both the business side and the guest side of the wireless network. These tools can be very expensive and out of the budget range for most small companies. Instead a small business will end up with either an edge device with built in wireless (and really bad service), a single WAP or multiple individual WAPs that need to be managed independently and have their own problems.
For the majority of people the term wireless means a simple router or access point (AP) and that is that. However, when you look at wireless on a larger scale you have to have a means to control access points in your organization with a little more efficiency. The thought of going from AP to AP and manually making changes to ensure proper coverage or channel plans is one that would keep most network engineers up at night. However systems that offer a centralized management point for multiple Aps are typically out of the range of small and even medium sized businesses. NETGEAR has stepped in and created a few products to cover this market. We have their WC7600 Wireless controller and a pair of WN370 Access Points in the lab, so let’s check this bundle out and see how it fits in.
Before DEF CON 22 started we published an article that the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) was going to host a very interesting competition called SOHOplessly broken. This competition was to features a large array of common SOHO (small office home office) routers and put them to the security test. As you might imagine the competition revealed that security is not the primary focus of this segment of the market. In all a total of 15 zero day vulnerabilities were uncovered during the competition in four common routers.
Home Theater PCs, Streaming Media devices, and other homer entertainment electronic devices are an interesting market. It is also one that has died and been resurrected more than once. Right now it is on an upswing with devices from multiple companies dropping products on the market. We have been taking a look at a few of these not only from a technology perspective, but also from a usage standpoint. Some of these are very basic with limited functionality and, to be honest, are not worth the price that the manufacturers are asking. However, as with any product, there are ones that stand out. We are taking a look at one of these today in the form of the NETGEAR NeoTV MAX.
In the world of the enterprise bandwidth is everything. If you do not have enough or you cannot keep your systems running then you are sure to lose money. The problem is getting the bandwidth you need without spending too much to get it. The current backbone to client standard is 1Gbe (Gigabit Ethernet). This give you plenty of bandwidth for client operations as well as voice traffic (which is typically about 20% of your data usage. Now this is great when you are talking about client to server traffic, but what happens when you need servers to talk to each other or servers to talk to storage? Here you need significantly more bandwidth than you do out to clients. Right now at the high-end of the spectrum you have 40Gbe (with 100Gbe coming very soon) and just under this is 10Gbe. Traditionally 10Gbe has been the playing ground for fiber optics or for TwianAixal cables. The problem is that these are not all that economical and end up out of the hands of all but larger enterprise networks. Things have changed though, just like 1Gbe over 10 years ago, 10Gbe is now hitting the price range that puts it into the hands of small and medium sized businesses. We are going to take a look at one of these options today in the form of the NETGEAR ProSafe XS708E 8-port 10Gbe Ethernet Switch.
802.11ac wireless was introduced at CES 2012. Unfortunately when the devices were launched there were no adapters to support it. This meant that people were buying expensive wireless products without having any way to support the speeds they were capable of. Fortunately at CES 2013 a couple of manufacturers started releasing 802.11ac adapters. However, there are two schools of thought about how to implement these adapters. We will be taking a look at both in the next couple of weeks, but we will kick things off with a look at the USB 2.0 NETGEAR A6200 Dual Band 802.11ac WiFi Adapter. Let’s dive in and take a look.
Netgear has decided to upgrade their existing line of media players and has come out with three new ones. They hope that these will be decent competition for Apple TV and Roku's streaming boxes. The basic model the Neo TV will be available for $49.99, while the NeoTV Pro and NeoTV MAX will go for $59.99 and $69.99 respectively. The new line will have HTML 5 support and more content sources compared to previous models, also it will have Push2TV media streamer for pushing media from smartphones or laptops to the big screen.
We have our third victim… um test subject in our continuing Network Attached Storage (NAS) device reviews. This time it is from a company with a fair recognizable name in the industry, NETGEAR. For many the name NETGEAR means low cost consumer networking products and maybe a lower reliability rating. We have to agree that some of that reputation was rightfully earned in the past, but they have since changed things around and are now making some fairly solid products for the consumer, SMBs and the enterprise. We have already covered their ProSafe WNDAP360 wireless access point and found it to be a well put together product. Now we are going to dive into their pro line of NAS products with the ReadNAS Pro 6. This is a 6 bay device that can support up to 12TB of RAW storage and has more than its share of features to boot. So let’s take a look at what you get with the ReadyNAS Pro 6 from NETGEAR.
In my time in IT I have worked with a number of wireless devices for the consumer and for businesses. These have ranged everywhere from simple $40 products that are only meant to get you online (not fast, but online) to multi-component wireless systems costing thousands of dollars. All of these still use the same basic technology to get you connected and to pass traffic between your device and the internet. At their heart is going to be a wireless radio, but this does not mean that all wireless products are the same; quite the opposite in fact. There is a clear line between wireless for the average home and wireless for the average business. The factors are mostly in the software used and the features that you have at your disposal, but you also will often have more advanced hardware under the hood as well. Today we will be taking a look at standalone wireless access point that is aimed at the business market (although there are many things that consumers will like about as well). This is the NETGEAR WNDAP360 ProSafe Dual Band Wireless Access Point; let’s see if worth the $290 it will cost to put one of these in your office.
You may have heard that Apple’s new OS, Lion is making all of the NAS appliances incompatible. Well, we can tell you that the reports of these appliances demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact three days before the launch we heard from multiple vendors that they have new firmware updates that will be available to keep compatibility with Lion and its new version of Time Machine.
NETGEAR has even sent us theirs and we are at work testing is on their ReadyNAS Pro 6. So when you hear about how this or that product does not work, remember… you are listening to people that are ALWAYS trying to get a scoop sometimes they might not take the extra time to verify things before they push something like this out.
Keep checking back as we work to demystify some of what is out there on the net and give you the straight information.