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MIT Ramps Up WiFi in CSAIL Facility

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is moving to Meraki wireless gear in its Stata Center. The Cambridge, MA institution will deploy 80 Meraki MR14 access points in "Building 32," a simultaneously angular and curving 720,000-square foot structure that houses the university's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), along with the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. Several MIT academic luminaries have offices in the structure, including philosopher Noam Chomsky, roboticist Rodney Brooks, and security maven Ron Rivest.

In a statement the university said it sought a replacement for an existing network that could overcome the physical challenges of the building's architecture, accommodate the growing demand for wireless, and support the sophisticated network architecture already implemented in the building. It also wanted a system that was easy to manage.

"Our technology standards are pretty high here at MIT," said Jack Costanza, associate director for infrastructure at CSAIL. "So we were impressed when we saw how much information we were getting from Meraki about our wireless network."

As an example, Costanza indicated that his team was looking at the Meraki summary reports every day to get a sense of what wireless devices were connecting to the network. iPhones have been at the top of the list in recent months, representing 35.5 percent of connected clients, above Windows and Mac OS X. "No other wireless LAN solution provides this kind of information," said Costanza. "Meraki has the feature set, and they have a system that's really intuitive and easy to manage. It's a great experience for both wireless users and IT administrators."

Meraki actually originated at CSAIL in 2003 when company founders John Bicket and Sanjit Biswas worked on a wireless project there called RoofNet. "We spent a huge amount of our time in the lab building prototypes, deploying networks ourselves, and working on technology to make wireless more reliable, accessible, and simpler," Bicket wrote in a recent blog entry. "This work and technology served as the catalyst for Meraki's formation..."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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