Archive for Linksys

Linksys Cloud Manager Launches

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 20, 2018 by itnerd

Linksys today announced Linksys Cloud Manager, a cloud-hosted WiFi Management Platform purpose-built for small business environments that reduces costs and increases operational efficiencies. The solution offers centralized visibility, management and control of a wireless network without the cost and complexity of traditional hardware controllers, overlay software, or annual hosting costs.

Linksys Cloud Manager enables IT administrators and other authorized users to remotely monitor, manage and troubleshoot single or distributed wireless networks in real time via a single dashboard and sign-on. This plug-n-play platform helps provide secure remote access to Linksys Business Wireless-AC Access Points, which are built with enterprise-grade, high-performance hardware, and is competitively priced with no licensing or maintenance fees for five years*. The included cloud license fits any budget and provides a complete solution for IT solutions providers and their SMB customers. 

Simplifying SMB Network Management

The Linksys cloud architecture provides a feature set designed to streamline administration and improve productivity, giving users more control over network uptime and the ability to ensure QoS in real time.

  • Comprehensive Centralized Management via a Global Map – Manage multiple, unlimited client WiFi networks around the corner or around the world from one centralized dashboard with a single login. Visibility of all accounts, sites, access points, and devices.
  • Remote Monitoring and Network Insights – Provides alerts and real-time statistics so network administrators can anticipate potential network issues without the need for on-site monitoring and troubleshooting.  View through a web browser, historical and real-time traffic on the network, at-a-glance analytics about top clients and devices, including uptime, signal strength, connection duration, etc.  Built-in troubleshooting tools to identify problems using features such as a Ping Test, Blink LED, RF Environment Scan, and Rogue Access Point Detection.
  • Tremendous Scalability Scales seamlessly from single sites to unlimited networks worldwide; suitability for distributed networks (e.g., retail/branch offices).
  • Rapid Deployment with Zero-touch Provisioning – Configure APs even before unboxing them enabling a quick and simple installation process. After deployment, Linksys APs automatically connect to the cloud over SSL and can be configured remotely, whether they are offline or online. Users can provision the network in minutes with a few clicks.
  • Over-the-air Upgrades – Firmware is automatically updated.
  • Email and Text Push Notifications – Message alerts and warnings on network and device connectivity and network health re: power loss, downtime, or configuration changes.
  • Extremely Easy to Use Management Portal – An intuitive, browser-based dashboard and responsive user interface enables IT administrators to provision networks on the go from a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, with no additional app to download.
  • Flexibility – With no vendor lock in, customers can use a local interface to manage Linksys APs if cloud is no longer required.
  • Multi-role Platform – Multi-management level accounts give users the ability to set roles (owner, admin, viewer) and provide key users access to specific networks.
  • Exceptional Warranty Terms and Technical Support – Linksys goes beyond the forum and email only support and offers 24X7 live customer support.

Unlocking Profitability for IT Solutions Providers

Limited resources, constrained spending budgets, and the proliferation of devices and IoT are further complicating wireless networks, and as a result, driving SMBs to move toward network managed services where an IT partner is responsible for the network on an ongoing basis.  The migration to cloud-based applications and everything-as-a-service presents a big growth opportunity in the SMB space for IT channel providers.

Linksys Cloud Manager is an ideal solution for resellers and IT solutions providers looking to develop a managed service model and generate recurring revenue. For those who already are, it’s a compelling alternative to pricier cloud solutions and will help round out their product portfolio to address customers with smaller IT budgets.

Availability
Linksys Cloud Manager is pre-installed on select Linksys Business Wireless-AC Access Points, on the LAPAC1200C.

  • LAPAC1200C: MSRP $199.99  Linksys Cloud Manager included at no extra cost. (Available in late October in Canada)

 

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Linksys Announces New Gigabit POE+ Switches

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 13, 2018 by itnerd

Linksys has unveiled new custom-designed business-class smart switches to meet the growing power demands of networked devices in the modern workplace. The company’s latest offerings include an 8-Port Business Smart Gigabit PoE+ Switch – 130W (LGS308MP) and a 26-Port Business Smart Gigabit PoE+ Switch – 384W (LGS326MP) which features 24 PoE+ gigabit Ethernet ports +2 gigabit SFP/RJ45 combo ports. These new Linksys Smart Gigabit PoE+ Switches are designed to offer business-class management, security, speed and quality of service (QoS).

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology allows network switches to transmit both power and data through a twisted pair Cat5e Ethernet cable. PoE affords IT personnel greater flexibility when designing network architecture, simplifying device deployment by reducing the need for AC power outlets and wiring. This enables technicians to install wireless access points and other IP-based equipment, in otherwise hard to reach areas.

PoE+ equipment operates according to a newer Institute of Electrical and Electronics (IEEE) standard, 802.3at. PoE+ switches deliver more power to each port, up to 30 Watts, compared to legacy PoE networking equipment, which accommodates a power draw of 15.4 Watts per port. Smart switches designed to the PoE+ standard, are built to support a higher power draw required by next-generation devices that companies add to computer networks: pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) and other IP surveillance products, IP connected conference solutions, digital displays, AV equipment, wireless access point and VOIP phones.

Some examples of the power required by these devices are:

  • 13W:  IP Cameras, VoIP Phones, Wireless Access Points, Networked Audio
  • 30W: IP Telephones, WiMAX Access Points, PTZ Cameras, Remote Computer Terminals
  • 60W: Door Access Systems, Video Phones, Thin Clients
  • 100W: Digital Signage Displays, Point of Sale Systems, LCD TVs, Computer Monitors
  • 200W: Larger TVs, Larger Displays, Larger Monitors, Laptops

Gigabit PoE+ Smart Switches: Key Features

  • Integrated Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+)
  • Easy configuration and management
  • Proven performance and reliability
  • Meets EEE (Energy Efficient Ethernet) 802.3az standard
  • Advanced Network security
  • IP telephony support
  • IPv6 support

Key Benefits

Quality of Service (QoS): Several QoS features ensure that traffic is prioritized to deliver the best possible user experience for real-time voice and video applications, and bandwidth-intensive graphics and video file transfers. Specifically, IGMP snooping directs IP multicast traffic only to specific ports associated with the multicast group, thus enabling the rest of the network to operate at peak efficiency.

Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+): Linksys smart switches support the latest 802.3at (PoE+) standards and provides twice the power budget for each Gigabit Ethernet port while remaining backward- compatible with the 802.3af (PoE) standard. This makes PoE+ equipment ideal for powering networked devices like point-tilt-zoom surveillance cameras, display kiosks, digital signage, and 802.11ac wireless access points.

Network Security: Unauthorized access to the network and mission-critical data is a constant concern for businesses. Linksys smart switches help secure networks with features like port authentication and MAC-based port security, requiring clients to authenticate themselves before any data is passed. Advanced DHCP snooping and IP-MAC binding functions ensure network integrity and help prevent network attacks.

Network Expansion: Linksys smart switches include features for quickly expanding and growing your network. Multiple high-bandwidth trunks between switches enhance availability and redundancy. Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) and Storm Control features help control planned or inadvertent cable loops and facilitates cost-efficient scalability.

Pricing and Availability

The new Linksys high powered Smart Gigabit POE+ switches are immediately available in the Americas through their authorized distributors.

  • 8-Port Business Smart Gigabit PoE+ Switch – 130W (LGS308MP) $249.99 MSRP
  • 26-Port Business Smart Gigabit PoE+ Switch – 384W (LGS326MP) $529.99 MSRP

 

A Follow Up To The Linksys WRT32X Firmware Issue

Posted in Commentary with tags on February 14, 2018 by itnerd

One of the things that I promised to do when Linksys released the firmware to fix the issues that popped up late last year. Now I did test a beta version firmware. But now there’s a released version. It is version 1.0.180118.3 and it is available here. Release notes are available here. If you read the release notes, there is one note that you may want to pay attention to:

Known issue: the Google/OpenDNS/Custom DNS server functionality may not work
consistently. This will be resolved in a subsequent release.

In other words, if you’re like me and you don’t use your ISP’s DNS server settings. And instead you choose to use your own settings, you may have an issue. That’s a bit of a downer. But fortunately for Linksys, that’s where the bad news ends. I can’t find anything wrong with that. Plus the speed increases that I noted in the beta are still there. Thus if Linksys fixes the custom DNS issue, which if they’re reading this I’d really like that fixed, then this firmware would be perfect.

In short, when that firmware appears, I will consider this issue fully closed. But as it stands now, if you have a WRT32X router from Linksys, you should update your firmware now.

EXCLUSIVE: Linksys Rolling Out Firmware Fixes For WRT32X & WRT3200ACM

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 17, 2018 by itnerd

I just got off the phone with representatives from Linksys who shared with me some news in relation to the WRT32X and WRT3200ACM issues that I’ve been writing about for the last month.

First, they shared with me the root cause analysis of the issues that these routers have had. One cause is this Google issue that I wrote about yesterday. But I want to add to what I wrote yesterday to say that the problems with things like Google Chromecasts and Google Home killing your WiFi also extends to Android phones. Why is this important? When I was trying to troubleshoot the WiFi issues with my WRT32X, I had a couple Android phones turned on and connected to WiFi. When they were turned off, I found that I had a much better WiFi experience than when I had them turned on. This was validated by the experiences of users who were on the Linksys Community. Now this confirmation, further validated by Google saying that they are issuing a fix for this behavior, explains what I was seeing.

However, Linksys isn’t waiting for Google to fix this. The beta firmware for the WRT32X and WRT3200ACM that I told you about this past weekend has a fix for this issue in it. Now I did mention that it was a beta, but I couldn’t find anything wrong with the WRT32X variant of this firmware. Thus I feel comfortable recommending that you install it. But if you don’t want to run beta firmware, which by the way is completely understandable, production firmware is either out or will be out soon. In the case of the WRT3200ACM, that firmware is live as of now. All you need do is turn on the auto update of your router and you’ll get it. One thing that I should note is that about 50% of WRT3200ACM routers that are in production have received this update already. The version for the WRT32X is coming very soon as it’s still in the QA process. But if you have a WRT32X, you may want to proactively turn on auto update to get this firmware when it appears as it should be out sometime over the next few days. When it does pop up, I’ll post an update on what my experiences with it are.

One other thing. To further ensure that nothing else that can be classified as “bad” happens. Such as the Google fix breaking something else, Linksys will be monitoring the situation and be doing additional validation on the Google fix to ensure all their users are happy. One thing that was stressed to me on the call with Linksys is they really want to do right by their users. That’s why you saw them handing out replacement product such as Velop whole home Wifi nodes to customers. WiFi is important to everyone everywhere and Linksys gets that.

In closing, I have an ask for anyone who has a WRT3200ACM or a WRT32X. When you get this firmware update, please leave a comment below with what it’s like as I think it’s important for people to share their feedback on this. Given the results that I saw with the beta, I suspect that users will be very happy once they get the production firmware on their routers. And I think that the world should know about that.

The Linksys WRT32X Firmware Fix Works. Now How Does Linksys Make Sure That This Never Happens Again?

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 13, 2018 by itnerd

For the last 28 hours, I have been testing the firmware update that Linksys has released for the WRT32X router that according to them solves the connectivity issues that were introduced a month or so ago with another firmware update. When the firmware was released to the public, I wanted to test the firmware over an extended period time because some of the issues manifested themselves over a 24 hour period. Other issues manifested themselves when Android devices were present. Thus I threw a couple of the Android phones I keep around for testing with car infotainment systems at it as well. The results were positive:

  1. I noted that the WRT32X was faster than before as it gained just under 100 Mbps in raw speed getting up to a speed of 823 Mbps. That put it in the range of the ASUS and Netgear gaming routers which had beaten it rather handily when I tested each of those products.
  2. All the stability and connectivity issues that I noted were no longer present.

As far as I am concerned, this firmware is a winner and if you have this router (or the Linksys WRT3200ACM which had similar issues), you need to install it NOW.

So now that this story which I have been covering from a few angles since it started last month seems to be over, I want to take a moment to do a post mortem of the events of the last month as there were positive and negative points in terms of how this was handled:

  1. Seeing as a very crippling bug slipped out the door, I would hope that Linksys is reviewing their development and QA practices. Now I get that bugs get out the door from time to time. But this one was pretty bad and you have to wonder how it slipped through whatever processes they had in place. Thus a full review of how they do things from a development and QA perspective is in order. For bonus points, they should make the results public so that they can reassure their users that this was a one time event.
  2. At the start of this, my support experience when this issue first popped up was a fail. And it was apparently not isolated as Linksys customers emailed and Tweeted me saying that they had experiences that were similar to mine. Now the good news on that front is that Linksys is looking how they deliver support to their customers, and they are introducing a level 3 support group that is based in the USA (as their level 1 and 2 support is overseas) for those situations where they have a baffling issue that needs advanced levels of support. That’s a good move. But one thing that I tell my clients is that when you support customers, you have to have your best equipped and best prepared people on the front lines because they will solve issues faster and generate higher levels of customer satisfaction. I would suggest to Linksys that they look at that to head off something like this in the future.
  3. Also from the negative camp comes the fact that Linksys was slow to react to this. You would think that an influx of cases coming into their support channels, be it by phone, email, or social media would have set off alarm bells in the company. But it didn’t. From what I understand it was media coverage such as my stories on this issue that set off alarm bells inside Linksys. What I tell my clients who ask me how to head off something like this is that you have to have your ear to the ground at all times and be ready to jump into action instantly. After all, you should never find out about your bad news on CNN.
  4. When Linksys did finally react to this, they did right by their customers by offering up replacement products such as Velop mesh routers. That gave their customers the ability to get back online and it gave them breathing space to try and fix this issue. That was good and I applaud them for that. But the flipside to that was that even though they stopped selling these routers directly, they were very easy to find on the streets and online. Thus they were in effect adding to their problems every time one of these routers were sold. I would say that Linksys needs look at how to stop that from happening in the future because if I were the person who bought a router and then have it go wonky, and then I find out that this was a known and widespread issue, I would not be happy and I would not buy Linksys product again.
  5. Linksys going forward has to come up with the means to fix this stuff quickly. I say that because during the month that it took them to fix this, the following happened:
    1. Customers raged about this on social media, which is not the sort of press that I am sure Linksys wants.
    2. Customers who were fed up of waiting went to other router brands and are likely not to return to Linksys again. Not to mention that they won’t recommend the brand to their friends.
    3. Both Netgear and ASUS served up routers to me in hopes that I would review them, which I did. The reason being is that they sensed an opportunity to steal marketshare from Linksys. And from what they tell me, they succeeded on that front. And it’s a safe bet that if they did that with me, they did that with other people who review products. That’s not good if you’re Linksys.

Linksys should take a page out of the Apple playbook when it came to that vulnerability that allowed anyone to log into a Mac with root level access. It was fixed inside of 24 hours. Sure people said that that Apple dropped the ball when it came to letting that bug slip out the door. I know that I did. But Apple dropped everything and fixed it quickly, which meant that once people installed the fix, it became a non issue and nobody discussed it. Having this firmware issue sit out there for a month doesn’t do Linksys any favors. Thus they need to have the ability to react to these sorts of situations.

Is there anything that I am missing from this port mortem? If you think there is, or you have some wisdom to share, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

UPDATE: Kieran Hannon who is the CMO of Belkin which owns Linksys reached out to me:

The tweet that he referenced says this:

What the customer (CB) is referring to is the fact that the firmware that Linksys has put out there for the WRT32X and WRT3200ACS is essentially still going through their QA process and is in effect a beta. I can see on one hand that one might be reluctant to install a firmware update that is still a beta. But consider this. The firmware works, Linksys is telling you up front that it’s a beta, and it’s a whole lot better than having a router with firmware on it that doesn’t work. Having said that, the above illustrates in a nutshell the challenge that Linksys has going forward.

Linksys Releases WRT32X & WRT3200ACM Firmware To Remedy Month Long Firmware Nightmare

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 12, 2018 by itnerd

If you’re an owner of a Linksys WRT32X or WRT3200ACM router, and you’ve been waiting for Linksys to release an updated firmware to address the connectivity issues that you’ve been dealing with for the last month or so, I’m pleased to say that this firmware has now been released. Here’s a quote from a post made by  Linksys Lucas who has been working with users on the Linksys Community on this issue:

Today I am happy to announce firmware to help resolve the issues that people have been running into with their WRT routers with networks that have Android devices on them.

I will keep the overall description short here, but this firmware incorporates a new WLAN driver that will help mitigate an issue that was discovered where Android devices coming in and out of sleep mode would crash the Wireless Network.

Both of these firmwares will eventually make their way to our update servers for regular download, however decided that a month of this issue is long enough for us to post this for all of you that have been following this in the community to download and use while we go through our final QA checks that are required before putting it on the update server. 

As of now I feel very comfortable with releasing these to everyone since we have had approximately 50 people actively Beta testing over the past week and a half or so.

The only thing that gives me cause to pause is that this firmware is still going through their QA checks. But I’ve watched the Linksys Community to see what those who have been testing the firmware for Linksys have been saying, and their feedback is positive enough for me to suggest that if you have either of these routers, that you install this firmware from the links below:

WRT3200ACM Firmware Download

WRT32X Firmware Download

One of the things that I committed to doing was to test this firmware when it appeared on my WRT32X and report back as to if it remedies the issues that users have faced. I will be doing that this weekend and I will have a report on this by Monday morning at the latest. But in the meantime, if you’ve got feedback about this firmware that you’d like to share, please leave a comment and share your feedback.

 

 

An Update To The Linksys WRT32X And WRT3200ACM Firmware Issues…. A Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 8, 2018 by itnerd

The last time I wrote about the firmware issues with the Linksys WRT32X and WRT3200ACM routers, I wrote about the fact that there did not seem to be any hope in the minds of users that this would get fixed. This despite the fact that Linksys was taking the commendable action of serving up Velops or routers to anyone who needed to get back on line.

But there may be hope for users based on this message from a Linksys employee that was posted on the Linksys Community Forum yesterday (click to enlarge):

linksysx.JPG

The fact that they have beta firmware for the WRT3200ACM is a positive sign. I say that because in the last week, this same employee have been getting more advanced users to test a piece of this firmware with largely positive results. Assuming that the users that test this encounter no issues, there may be an end to this for WRT3200ACM that is in sight. And hopefully WRT32X users won’t be far behind.

I will continue to monitor this and update you with any information that I find out.

UPDATE: A beta firmware is now available for the WRT32X (click to enlarge):

wrt32x

There is no word on how well this firmware works at this time. But I will stay on top of this story.