Tips For Meraki WLAN Deployment Part 1: AP Addressing

December 29th, 2017
Tips For Meraki WLAN Deployment Part 1: AP Addressing

Meraki cloud-managed network infrastructure has brought a new level of manageability to the network, and many of High Availability’s customers have found out just how easy it is to operate a Meraki-based network infrastructure. For this series of articles, I wanted to recap a few tips for making the deployment go smoothly as well. Listed below are five often-overlooked topics essential for a complete and trouble-free Meraki installation.

  1. AP Addressing (Static or DHCP)
  2. Naming
  3. Tagging
  4. Installation Photos
  5. Floorplans

We will be discussing each of these topics in the next few blog articles.

AP Addressing

By default, Meraki access points will request an IP address through the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). If you are putting your APs on a client-serving network (which can be OK in a small office environment), that’s usually all they need to get started. However, larger, more complex network designs often dictate that access points’ management interfaces live on a dedicated AP VLAN or maybe a common infrastructure management VLAN. In those cases, DHCP may not be enabled by default. There are a few options in this situation.

First, DHCP can be enabled for the VLAN. If this is done, the approach I like to take is to set that DHCP scope up on the router or layer 3 switch serving the VLAN, rather than on a Windows AD server or similar. Why? Well, the simple fact is that VLANs used for infrastructure are easy to ignore, and sometime in the future the DHCP scopes might be migrated or the server decommissioned, with little or no attention paid to the DHCP scope defined for a non-user VLAN. In this case, the stability of a layer 3 switch to provide the DHCP may be desirable. Also, unlike client workstations, there is no strong need to have reverse-DNS PTR records registered for the APs or anything like that so putting the APs’ DHCP scope on a network device keeps all the configuration needed for the APs “in the network.”

Now, there may be times when DHCP addressing for your access points is not feasible or desirable. One support issue I’ve encountered more than once occurs when the DHCP scope that supplies IP addresses to the APs is exhausted (this usually occurs when a client-facing subnet is used for the access points). Eventually the AP is unable to renew its IP address, and it stops working. If this is the only option for addressing, DHCP may not be a good choice. Perhaps security policy prohibits the management network from providing the DHCP service. Or maybe administrator simply prefers that all infrastructure devices have fixed IP addresses. In this case, there are two ways to assign static IPs to your Meraki APs.

If you can initially provide an IP address via DHCP, the AP will check into the Meraki Dashboard, and assigning a static IP is simple.

First, go into the access point details page under Wireless > Access points, and click the access point in question. To the left of the main browser pane, you will see the IP settings. Click the pencil icon to edit them:

A small box will appear, in which you can select the addressing type. Here, you can select “Static IP:”

The box will expand and you can enter the AP addressing details, like this:

After filling in the appropriate details, click the Save button. The AP will reboot, and should come up at its new, static IP address. Rinse and repeat for the other APs. Note that the “VLAN” field only needs to be populated if the AP’s management VLAN is not the untagged/native VLAN for the connected switch port.

What about an instance where you cannot bring the AP up on DHCP initially? If the AP must be statically addressed from the start, before it can even reach the Meraki Dashboard, you need to locally connect to the AP.

In this case, power up the factory-fresh AP and it should begin broadcasting an SSID of “Meraki Setup.” Connect to this SSID, and then open your browser and go to “ap.meraki.com.” You should see a status page like this:

Switch to the “Configure” tab at the top, and when prompted for a Username and Password, enter the serial number of the AP under the Username and click OK, like this:

The Configure screen will allow you to choose the Uplink addressing mode:

As before, select Static, then fill in the addressing details and click Save at the bottom of the screen. After restarting, your AP should be able to connect to the Internet and the Meraki Dashboard via the statically-programmed IP address.

Hopefully, this blog article has been helpful in getting your Meraki access points addressed and connected to the Meraki cloud in a reliable manner. As always, the networking experts at High Availability are available to assist you with your networking project.

Next time, we will cover tips for deploying your Meraki hardware using the Meraki mobile app and taking advantage of some special Meraki features!

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