IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Open Mesh Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi

Equipped with a router, PoE switch, and access points, Open Mesh is an easy-to-use Wi-Fi network that MSPs can manage from their smartphones. By James E. Gaskin

OPEN MESH cloud-managed, mesh networking technology enables you to offer your SMB customers an easy-to-use wireless LAN complete with routers and access points, plus PoE switches to connect them.

Sold both through the channel and direct to consumers historically, Open Mesh will switch to an MSP-only model in January 2019. This shift comes as Datto, which acquired Portland, Ore.-based Open Mesh in 2017, fully integrates the company’s products into its Datto Networking line of offerings.

Installation and Configuration

The clean white units look like they came from Apple, so clients should like them. The G200 router (pictured above) is smaller than the A42 access points (APs). Both have a logo lit by an LED that glows red, yellow, orange, and teal, depending on various states (teal is A-OK). Ignore the terse Quick Start Guides and set up your free management console on before starting to connect and turn on the units.

Almost all setup and network management can be done via smartphone. Add devices to the console by scanning their MAC addresses into your smartphone app (faster than typing). Then start the configuration process.

Open Mesh Access Point

Do not expect the G200 router to do any Wi-Fi work by itself because it’s just the control unit. You will first need to turn on the router ports: two standard Gigabit Ethernets, two with PoE, and two WAN ports (Ethernet or SFP1). Find the port activation screen through the main overview display, drill down on Routers in the left menu, and then click on the router name. Seems a little odd for a typical home and small office router, but think of Open Mesh as a Wi-Fi system accessed through a console, like an enterprise system shrunk down to SMB level. Then things won’t seem so different.

Once the router ports are active, scan and add your PoE switch (models with 7, 8, 24, and 48 PoE ports are in the catalog) if needed. Small systems with only two access points can run without a PoE switch since the router has two PoE ports. VLANs are supported, and the router includes a rudimentary firewall. VPNs are easier to configure than with most routers since you have access to both ends of the connection through the cloud-based console. QoS settings allow multiple traffic types (gaming, social news, video, voice, etc.) to receive unrestricted, high (50 percent), medium (30 percent), or low (20 percent) bandwidth.

Configuring the access points is a snap, and they’ll do much of the work for you once the router is set up properly. Scan the MAC address, plug the APs in, and in about two minutes (seven if the firmware needs upgrading) your Wi-Fi network will be live. Each AP only pulls 4.3W, so our S8L switch could handle APs in every port.

The access point design covers all your installation needs. It can be used outside with a rubber gasket that covers the recessed ports (there are two Ethernet PoE ports, one 802.3af injector, and one 24v passive PoE input). Included attachment parts let you hang the AP from the wall, ceiling gang box, Ethernet or junction box, or suspended ceiling T-rail.

Each device can be white-labeled, including the switch. The cloud console offers some optional customization to change colors and text and add a logo.

About the Author

James E. Gaskin's picture

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

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